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Announcing our New Executive Director

We are excited to announce that Nicole Herden will be the new executive director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College! Herden is a seasoned arts leader who brings a wealth of experience to the FAC, serving most recently as the executive director of the Museum of Nebraska Art, in affiliation with the University of Nebraska. Since joining the Museum of Nebraska Art, Herden oversaw a capital campaign that has cultivated $28 million dollars, conducted extensive community outreach, and redesigned the museum’s approach to staff and facility management.

“I am thrilled to join the incredible team at the Fine Arts Center as the institution and region are both poised for tremendous growth,” says Herden. “I am looking forward to cultivating a dynamic and inclusive institution that is relevant not only to the art world but also to the lives of everyone who lives in the Pikes Peak region.”

Learn more about Nicole

Dear Community,

We are pleased to announce that Colorado College has engaged WittKieffer to conduct the search for the Executive Director. This important role requires an inspiring leader who can represent all of the constituents of the FAC into the next phase of growth. We are confident that this search firm will help us find the best candidates across the country.

Colorado College Dean of Faculty, Emily Chan, will serve as chair of the search committee and will make recommendations to both of us. The search committee includes community members, FAC staff, and faculty representation; two students will be appointed by the CC Student Government Association.

  • Stormy Burns: Museum Administrative Assistant, FAC Staff
  • Luke Cammack: Patron Experience Manager, FAC Staff
  • Emily Chan – Chair: Vice President and Dean of the Faculty, Professor of Psychology, CC Cabinet
  • Pedro de Araujo: Vice President and Dean of the College, Professor of Economics, CC Cabinet
  • Susan Edmondson: President & CEO, Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs, Community Member
  • Alie Ehrensaft: Museum Education Manager, FAC Staff
  • Susan Grace: Director, Summer Music Festival, CC Faculty
  • Carol Neel: Professor of History, CC Faculty
  • Karen Roybal: Associate Professor of Southwest Studies, CC Faculty
  • Thayer Tutt: Vice Chairman & CIO, El Pomar, Community Member
  • Blake Wilson: Partner & Appraiser, The Art Bank, Community Member

We look forward to providing updates on the progress of the search. Check back in here for more as the search progresses.


Mike Edmonds, Senior Vice President
Manya Whitaker, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff

Updates on the Search

During the week of September 13-16, 2022, members of the firm met with stakeholders to establish qualifications for the position. Sessions included:

  • Two open sessions with FAC staff and the CC campus community
  • An open community session for all members of the Colorado Springs community
  • Meetings with the FAC Foundation Board and FAC Advisory Board
  • Meetings with key faculty and specific community stakeholders
  • Introductory session with the search committee

Search firm members also met with CC leadership to establish plans for the search which will be forthcoming.

Executive Director Position Posting

The WittKieffer Team

Melissa FincherMelissa Fincher


Melissa Fincher has developed deep trusting relationships through years of higher education, non-profit and academic medicine collaborations. Her varied experiences make her uniquely qualified to support clients in attracting high-caliber leaders to address today’s complex agendas.

A New Jersey native and first generation college student, Melissa attended Rutgers University receiving a conservatory-based education in visual arts. While there, she taught art classes through the Rutgers Community Arts Program and with VSA New Jersey, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the creative power of people with disabilities. Melissa also worked at the Arts Council of Princeton in marketing and fundraising and studied art and architecture in Paris. Melissa then attended Drexel University where she received a master’s degree in arts administration with a concentration in community cultural planning and philanthropy.

Melissa launched her career at her alma mater, Rutgers, as a member of the undergraduate admissions team and then joined Johns Hopkins External Affairs and Development. She first served as a member of the senior leadership team developing critical institutional partnerships and executing priority projects and then as a human resources consultant with a primary focus on talent acquisition and career pathing. Immediately prior to joining WittKieffer, Melissa was a talent and organizational development consultant at The Ohio State University. Melissa led organizational design and assessment efforts including integration strategies for merged organizational models, a comprehensive reclassification and salary study, and workforce planning.


M.S., Arts Administration, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
B.F.A., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Sarah PalmerSarah Palmer


Sarah Palmer is passionate about connecting exceptional talent to compelling leadership opportunities in higher education, aligning skills, values and competencies to position both individuals and institutions for success. Sarah views her work as a search consultant through a varied and experienced lens, having served within academia as a talent manager, recruiter, human resources expert and admissions professional. She applies a holistic approach to talent that appreciates the interconnectedness between workforce planning, talent development, retention and recruiting.

Prior to joining WittKieffer, Sarah spearheaded the talent acquisition and talent management functions in the human resources department at Simmons University in Boston for over six years. In this role, she was a strategic business partner to senior leadership during a time of significant transformation for the university, providing effective workforce planning and talent management consultation to advance the mission and culture of the university. Among her key contributions at Simmons, Sarah led the talent acquisition strategy and execution for executive-level strategic hires across the president’s senior leadership team, along with multiple academic dean positions for established and inaugural colleges. In addition, Sarah was instrumental in advancing inclusive hiring practices.

Before Simmons, Sarah worked in professional services and was responsible for the national recruitment of management consultants for various industries. In addition, she spent over four years in Washington, DC, at a boutique legal staffing firm delivering specialized staffing solutions to prominent law firms, corporations and associations. Sarah’s talent acquisition skills were developed early in her career when she served in admissions roles, recruiting students for proprietary education institutions.


B.A., Art History, Connecticut College, New London, CT

Bree Liddell

Sr. Associate

Bree Liddell approaches her work with optimism and enthusiasm. She is passionate about identifying thoughtful, creative leaders who seek to advance their institutions’ goals and improve campus communities. In supporting a range of WittKieffer recruitments for senior academic administrators – including presidents, vice presidents, provosts and deans – Bree looks for strong, diverse pools of candidates whose values align with those of the hiring institution.

Bree understands the challenges and opportunities facing today’s colleges and universities, drawing from past administrative experience in recruiting, marketing, student advising, teaching and alumni engagement. In her most recent position, she served as graduate recruitment specialist for Washington University in St. Louis, where she managed recruiting for graduate programs within the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Prior to this, Bree worked in admission at Saint Louis University. Her career also includes roles at McKendree University, Hickey College and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.


M.B.A., Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
M.A., Philosophy, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
B.A., Philosophy, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Research and Administrative Support

WittKieffer has one of the largest research staff in the executive search industry and, arguably, the largest devoted solely to gathering intelligence on executives for roles in the higher education and healthcare arenas. The firm has 20 analysts, librarians and knowledge managers who generate original research for every search.

In addition, we assign a dedicated executive search coordinator to each engagement, who ensures optimal project management support. Responsibilities include tracking our internal search processes, coordinating client and candidate interviews, scheduling client meetings and communicating directly with the committee’s designated search liaison, among other important duties.