Amy Kimberly is perhaps the best-known member of Carbondale’s eclectic community. She has been instrumental in carrying forth the Mountain Fair tradition since 2004, and her role as executive director of Carbondale Arts brought fresh zeal into the organization. In 2019, she was honored with the Governor’s Creative Leadership Award in recognition of all she’s done wearing that particular hat.
After more than a decade in the role, Kimberly will be stepping down as executive director at the end of this year, but plans to stay involved with the community while spending more time with her daughter and grandchild in California. She told The Sopris Sun that she enjoys paddle boarding, attending live music events and will focus energy on special passion projects.
“I would actually call it ‘rewirement’ instead of retirement,” she said. “I did just get on the board of [Thunder River Theatre Company], so I’m excited to put some more energy into other nonprofits locally.” Working intimately with various nonprofits and planning teams is nothing new for this community leader.
Kimberly was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As soon as she was out of high school, she began her journey west, stopping off in St. Louis, Missouri, for her college education. She later moved to Sonoma County, California where she ran the Commedia dell’Arte Theater Company for 10 years.
After having her first child, she moved to Telluride where she opened the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon with a partner. “The Moon” was well-known for attracting jam bands from around the country, including Phish, Widespread Panic and The String Cheese Incident. During her 18 years in Telluride, she also served as director of Telluride Arts for five years.
In 2001, she decided to move to Carbondale while her daughter attended Colorado Rocky Mountain School.
“Owning a nightclub, especially as I began to get older, I needed breaks, especially so I could be with my kids,” Kimberly said. “My plan was to go back to Telluride, but I never went back.”
Once in Carbondale, she landed a job at KDNK community radio as the development director. “There were some golden years of some fun events. … I was happy, but I could see that my future probably would lie more at Carbondale Arts instead of KDNK.”
When the position opened up for executive director at Carbondale Arts, she jumped at the opportunity. Initially, she was not chosen. In 2004, she was hired to direct Mountain Fair, which eventually became a full time position. During this time, she created the Green is the New Black fashion extravaganza, which will be returning next year under Kimberly’s direction. She felt strongly the importance of bringing Carbondale Arts beyond its “hippie” associations, by focusing foremost on quality and creativity. In 2011, when then-executive director Ro Mead retired, Kimberly got her shot at overseeing the nonprofit.
During her time with Carbondale Arts, the state’s Economic Office of Development, recognizing the importance of creative industries in Colorado, started a creative districts program. It was geared toward communities that identified artistically, and Carbondale was a shoe-in.
“I felt that Carbondale had always been known as this little funky creative arts place, but we didn’t really have much support beyond the locals. So the creative district program changed the way people perceive Carbondale and the arts,” reflected Kimberly. “This program allowed our community to come together with a cohesive vision.”
Kimberly hopes that the next executive director of Carbondale Arts will not be intimidated by the role. She mentioned to The Sopris Sun that this person does not need to “fill her shoes” but hopes that they wear their own and bring unique ideas to the table, while also keeping up with the changing community.
“I think I have really done and given this organization the best that I can, and it is now maybe time for someone else to infuse what they have,” Kimberly continued. “It is an incredible opportunity for someone that wants to bring their own vision to it and work with a great staff. Sometimes you don’t need more, sometimes you just need to wrap your arms around what is going on and be thankful that it is here.”
To review the job application, visit www.bit.ly/CdaleArtsED