Craft Alliance, a visual arts non-profit located in St. Louis, MO, and nationally recognized as one of the premier craft organizations in the country, announced Bryan W. Knicely as its next Executive Director. Knicely will serve as Craft Alliance’s brand ambassador in a growing artist-minded community and will be responsible for the leadership and management of the organization with a special emphasis on resource development, community engagement, and focus on long-term strategic growth and performance. Assuming his new role effective June 26, 2023, Knicely joins Craft Alliance following the planned retirement of the organization’s departing leader, Mark Witzling.

Knicely is a well-respected arts administrator with over three decades of industry experience and an unwavering belief that art can transform lives and reinforce our shared humanity.

 “It is an honor to have the opportunity to lead Craft Alliance in this next season of growth following the exceptional leadership of Mark,” said Knicely. “I truly believe everyone is creative when they are encouraged and inspired to participate in the many forms of craft. I love craft, and I am very appreciative that contemporary craft is being embraced more and more by the larger (art) community. Creative outlets are life-changing for many, if not most, people. Having the opportunity to nurture one’s creativity allows that person to grow internally, as well as within their larger community, creating a passion for their own wellbeing and enhancing their sense of place.” 

Prior to joining Craft Alliance, Knicely served as the Executive Director at Pyramid Hill in Hamilton, OH. Partnering with the Board of Directors, Knicely led all aspects of the organization’s operations, including curatorial oversight, administrative and financial management, fundraising, marketing, education, community engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI). Hired to professionalize their operations and staffing, his accomplishments for the organization included a long-range plan to prioritize Board vision, build a community collaboration of local cultural leaders, and write the first policy for DEI. 

“As Craft Alliance embarks on its next chapter, we sought a leader to propel change,” said Board Chair Peggy Holly. “After a thorough and extensive national search process, the board and staff are delighted to have Bryan lead Craft Alliance as we build on the great foundation and positive momentum built by Mark Witzling.” 

Early in his career, Knicely’s professional track brought him through St. Louis, where he served in leadership roles at Laumeier Sculpture Park and Saint Louis Effort for AIDS. During this period, he developed a deep appreciation for the arts community in the St. Louis region and additionally took ceramics classes at Craft Alliance. Other career experiences include roles with Yellowstone Art Museum, BalletMet Columbus, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and Stonewall National Museum & Archives. He is the founder of (Re)Create Consulting and has worked with the National Endowment for the Arts and has served as a grants panelist, published several articles, and presented at both national and international conferences. 

Knicely holds a Liberal Arts Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Marketing from Otterbein University in Westerville, OH, and a Master of Arts degree in Arts Policy and Administration from The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. Additionally, Knicely holds a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion from Cornell University and was selected to participate in the Harvard Business School’s Performance Measurements for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations in order to enhance the Creative Economy movement in Maine. 

Craft Alliance’s Board of Directors retained KEES, and a comprehensive search was launched, attracting a talented and diverse pool of qualified leaders. Leading the search efforts were Search Chair Terri Jacobson (Former CEO of Jacobson Staffing, Inc.), and Search Committee Members Peggy Holly (Craft Alliance Board Chair and Community Volunteer), Jackie Levin (President and CEO AFB International, retired), Lee Kaplan (Business and Strategy Consultant), Paul Ellebrecht (Strategy Consultant at Collaborative Strategies), and Samantha Menezes (Director at Cigna). The Board of Directors ultimately selected Knicely from a strong group of finalists from across the country. 

“Congratulations to the entire Craft Alliance team and community on this exciting placement,” said Heather Eddy, KEES President and CEO. “Bryan will truly help Craft Alliance launch into its next era with a vision that propels and cultivates the contemporary craft movement both locally and nationally. We are excited about the next steps in this onboarding process. Congratulations, all!” 

ABOUT KEES 

KEES (formerly Alford Executive Search) is a non-profit executive search firm that builds diverse teams with dynamic leaders in the non-profit and public sectors. A woman-owned and operated firm, KEES offers a full array of non-profit consulting services, including executive search, leadership development, interim staffing, and HR support. For more information, please visit www.kees2success.com. 

ABOUT CRAFT ALLIANCE 

Craft Alliance is a visual arts organization nurturing and inspiring creativity to educate and enrich the community through contemporary craft. Established in 1964, Craft Alliance will celebrate 60 years of partnership with St. Louis artisans and craft makers in 2024. From its 15,000-square-foot location in the Delmar Maker District, Craft Alliance offers extensive community outreach programs, exhibitions, and education classes for all skill levels in a variety of mediums, artist residencies, youth camps, and a gallery shop. Each year, 15,000+ people come through the doors to experience a full spectrum of educational resources. Nationally recognized as one of the country’s premier nonprofit craft organizations, Craft Alliance is the only organization of its kind in the region solely dedicated to contemporary craft.  

KEES MEDIA CONTACT: 

Jamie Sheffler | [email protected] 

CRAFT ALLIANCE MEDIA CONTACT: 

Heather Aliano | 301.659.0659 | [email protected]