Muse Machine executive director retires, tenure notable for securing financial gains

Muse Machine, Dayton’s longstanding arts education organization, has announced the retirement of Mary Campbell Zopf as executive director after an eight-year tenure, effective July 10.

Zopf, a Springfield resident, joined Muse Machine as its executive director in July 2014. She previously served 25 years with the Ohio Arts Council as its education director and deputy director.

Among Zopf’s notable accomplishments while at Muse:

· Securing Muse’s first-ever grant for $20,000—and the only Ohio arts education recipient in 2019—from the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), after previous attempts before her; which resulted in another subsequent multi-year $50,000 NEA grant.

· Dramatically increasing individual giving and grant funding—including annual Ohio Arts Council operating support and program grants—as she actively participated in and steered Muse’s fundraising and development efforts.

· Ensuring that Muse Machine qualified for and received local, state and federal stimulus grant funding during the pandemic, thereby securing resources for staff to transition to virtual and hybrid learning.

· Bringing Muse Machine to national attention resulting in the organization being honored and presented with a $10,000 check in January 2020 as one of only 12 organizations selected nationwide to receive a Stand For The Arts Award (for empowering the community, building strategic partnerships, driving engagement via volunteerism and delivering creative programming) through a partnership between Ovation TV and Charter Communications, Inc.

“Mary has led Muse Machine through an amazing eight-year period of unprecedented challenges with undaunted professionalism, determination and energy,” said Muse Board Chair Ira Thomsen, in a release. “She intentionally orchestrated and implemented a strategic plan that focused on preparing this unique organization for sustainability, while never losing sight of the joy of inspiring students and teachers through arts-integrated education and professional development. That focus, coupled with her steadfast leadership through the pandemic in pivoting her staff to virtual and hybrid programming, has led to transformational change. Our board and staff are grateful to Mary for her passion and commitment to all of Muse Machine’s stakeholders and wish her a well-earned retirement. Mary has truly made a difference!”

ExploreSaluting Dayton’s 2021-22 Theater Season

Zopf has a lifelong career in the arts. She served as a visual arts specialist in the Dayton Public Schools, followed by several years as coordinator of public programs at the Dayton Art Institute. She also graduated summa cum laude from Wright State University with a B.S. in education. For 14 years, she served as an elected member of the Yellow Springs Board of Education, which a resident there.

Last month, the Muse Machine presented “The Addams Family,” the organization’s 37th annual student musical. In her program notes, Zopf spoke of the importance of community in light of the pandemic, specifically the integral bonds within the Muse community.

Credit: MUSE MACHINE

Credit: MUSE MACHINE

“Even as my personal world has narrowed over the last two years, I continue to feel gratitude for the compassionate people in our community who showed us how to lead, teach and love in uncertain times,” said Zopf. “Like the Addams family, we know we can manage new realities when life requires us to. We experienced the truth that ‘families’ are formed through connection to and love for one another. A perfect example of this truth is the family that is formed as the Muse musical comes to life.”

About the Author