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Meet Angela Strain: MOCA's New Director of Development

September 6, 2018 // by Nan Kavanaugh

This summer, the MOCA team welcomed Angela Strain as our new Director of Development. She brings knowledge, experience, and a passion for advocacy and the arts to the museum. We are thrilled to have her join us. We asked this dynamic new addition a few questions to better get to know her, and we hope that you say hello to her when you see her at the museum!

Meet Angela Strain
Image of Angela Strain, MOCA Director of Development. Photo by Laura Evans.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you from, and what brought you to Northeast Florida?

I originally hail from Memphis, Tennessee, which has so many overlapping historical challenges and opportunities with Jacksonville! Both are river cities, both have such a strong connection to music and the arts, and both grapple with the disparities and inequities born of Southern history. Both are also huge geographies tied together by amazing neighborhoods. My parents retired to Florida, and we wanted to be closer. Mayo was actually the incentive for my wife and I to get to know Jacksonville, and the people here made us excited to make it our home.

You have over two decades of experience working in non-profits. What is about working in the nonprofit world that keeps you motivated?

You will not find more determined, creative, innovative people in this world than those who have a passion for transforming the world into the vision of what they know it can be. Nonprofits - whether they are advocating for marginalized communities, or overhauling agricultural practices to put nutrition back in our diets, or solving the crisis of health care access, or offering pathways in education that help every student achieve, or saving a species, or introducing music as a bridge between worlds - they are the ones doing the real work of nation building, one step at a time. There is no better feeling than being on a team that is driven by this passion, and I've only found that in the nonprofit sector.  

When you are not at work, what do you do in your spare time?

Every minute I can spend in the garden is a treasure! I am a birding enthusiast and a wildlife advocate, and Northeast Florida is a perfect place to enjoy all things outdoors. My wife is an artist and I have a passion for the creative process, so our favorite travels include any opportunity for hands-on arts instruction and learning.

You left JASMYN, an amazing organization that supports our LGBTQ community to come to MOCA, so you must have a passion for the arts. Who is your favorite contemporary artist and why?

It is through the lens of art that every social movement has seen progress, so I think a love for artists rather than one favorite is the best way to describe my interest in contemporary art.  It's almost impossible to think of ACT UP and not see the work of Keith Haring flash before your eyes, or think of feminism without seeing Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, or think of Vietnam War protests without seeing John Filo's portrait of Mary Ann Vecchio at Kent State. The power of contemporary art is truly 360 degrees, from the creator to the audience and all the transformation in between. I'm excited to be part of an institution that offers these windows on a global stage.  

You have worked in other museums. Can you share a little bit about that experience and what makes MOCA Jacksonville unique?

Right out of college, I knew that museums offered a unique blend of all the things I am most passionate about, including the art and artifacts that provide context to our history and our future. I joined the staff of the Memphis Museum System and worked in as many roles as I could to learn as much as possible about operations, collections, exhibit prep, development, and guest services. One of the most exciting projects of that time was helping bring an exhibition of Etruscan treasures from the Vatican Museums to tour the United States, in partnership with Wonders: The International Cultural Exhibition Series. Central to the project was visitor engagement, education, and experience, without which an exhibit is static and lifeless. MOCA is offering our community the opportunity to engage, learn, and experience contemporary art like no other institution in our region, and it is only getting better and better as MOCA approaches its 100th anniversary in Jacksonville! 

As Director of Development, you wear a lot of hats. Can you describe them, and do you have a favorite?

The easiest way to describe my role: helping people translate their passion for a cause into tangible outcomes and results, thanks to their investment of time, talent, and treasure. That's the only equation that works! If we truly know our supporters, donors, and volunteers, and can help connect them to what they love most about the work our nonprofit does, then we have succeeded. It's as simple and as complicated as that. 

Are there any major development initiatives coming out this fall that you are particularly excited about?

What are you doing New Year's Eve?  Thanks to the vision and passion of Marilyn and Charles Gilman, MOCA will be the most amazing place to ring in 2019! There is no better way to cement downtown as a destination than to see more than 500 folks choose the Museum for their New Year's Eve celebration.

What is the one thing you hope every member knows about MOCA?

I hope that every member knows how important the “A” is in STEAM education! Research shows that young people excel in science, math, engineering and technology when you add ART. Your support is helping grow the next generation of scientists, teachers, and leaders for our community! 

Q&A  Staff 

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