Chandler Cultural Foundation Announces Appointment of Ellie Watland to Board of Directors

Ellie Watland

Sun Lakes resident Ellie Watland has been appointed by Mayor Kevin Hartke to serve on the Chandler Cultural Foundation’s Board of Directors. Watland, originally from Minnesota, brings a wealth of experience in arts administration and education, mediation training, and civic and cultural affairs.

She served as the executive director of the Northfield Arts Guild from 1992 to 1996, which brings performances, art exhibitions, classes, and special events to the City of Northfield, Minn.

In 1996 she transferred her skills as an arts administrator to work in civil mediation and later teaching mediation for the Minnesota State Bar Association.

“I have always found great joy in being a bridge for people,” says Watland, “to find paths where differing viewpoints, backgrounds, perspectives can come together and understand one another. The arts center is a tremendous place where people can gather and experience things from other viewpoints in a safe space. So, to me, joining the Chandler Cultural Foundation Board became a natural way to become involved in the community.”

Driven by a constant desire to take action, Watland’s career has taken her to several different industries and leadership positions, including moving to Costa Rica for 12 years to teach English to Marriott, Intel, and Kimberly Clark employees.

“Moving to a different country presented me with a challenge and an exciting opportunity to learn how to become part of a community,” says Watland. “When I arrived, I spoke very little Spanish, didn’t know anyone, but by the time I left, the neighbors were my family. The experience gave me the understanding of what it feels like to be new to a place and how comforting it is to find a community.”

She continues, “I see the arts center as a place to enjoy the familiar forms of artistic expression as well as a welcoming place where you can develop an appreciation for the unfamiliar. I value it as a community asset that brings people together of all ages, backgrounds, and interests through the arts.”

Watland moved to Arizona in 2012 and has lived in Sun Lakes/Chandler since 2016.

Watland has a bachelor’s degree in art from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minn. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including American Association of University Women (AAUW), Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, the League of Women Voters, the Scandinavian Club, and a mayoral appointment to Friendship City, an exchange program in Costa Rica.

“Ellie brings such a varied set of skills to our board,” says Board Chair David Woodruff. “Her real-world experience in running an arts center, her years creating bridges between people by eliminating language barriers and teaching mediation, and her love of diverse cultural expressions—these all make her a wonderful asset for the Cultural Foundation Board. We look forward to having her leadership.”