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Sherri Richards, Published December 25 2010

11 to watch in 2011: Trollwood leader sees big things for arts program

Kathy Anderson’s tenure as interim executive director of Trollwood Performing Arts School could have just been about survival.

Its two founding members, John Marks and Vicki Chepulis, had recently parted ways with the Fargo Public Schools arts program. It had just moved to a new facility in south Moorhead. Its budget was reduced by more than a half million dollars, costs absorbed by internal reorganization.

Instead, Trollwood thrived. Program participation increased by 30 percent, Anderson said, and overall program capacity was 91 percent.

Anderson describes her interim stint as a “proving time.” Apparently, she proved herself. She was named Trollwood’s executive director in November.

Fargo Superintendent Rick Buresh said Anderson met all the expectations, and the district was pleased with her work.

“She’s a highly effective person. She comes with a wide range of talents. She’s able to work with a wide range of people,” he said.

Anderson said she comes to the role with an open-ended vision. Her job is to oversee Trollwood’s various programs and make the budget work.

“It’s humbling to be in this role. I take it very seriously,” she said. “We are here 100 percent for the young people we serve.”

Anderson has a long history with the organization, starting as a seasonal intern in 1991. “Suddenly it’s the rest of my life,” she jokes.

She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1991 with a major in arts administration. She was operations director of Trollwood from 1993 to ’97 and director of administration from 2005 to ’09.

Anderson was named interim shortly after Chepulis announced her February 2010 retirement.

Lisa Farnham, Trollwood’s marketing coordinator, first hired Anderson as an intern. She said Anderson has provided a seamless transition period.

“We felt it was somebody who really knew the ins and outs of the organization and would work to further all the programs John and Vicki started out here,” Farnham said.

Now, Anderson would like Trollwood to develop partnerships with community-based arts groups and offer year-round programming, to complement the arts curriculum within the Fargo school buildings.

From January through April, Trollwood will offer two 10-week after-school programs for high school students, a glee choir (tapping into the popularity of the Fox network’s musical comedy series “Glee”) and an improv troupe.

“I see that exploding with possibilities,” Anderson said.

She’d also like to develop after-school programs for younger students, something she’s envisioned for 10 years and is now in the position to create.

She said Trollwood’s 2011 main-stage musical will be announced Jan. 6.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556