Name: Margaret Keller
Place of Employment: Community Access to the Arts (CATA)
Title: Executive Director
What is your 3 sentence biography?
I am passionate about the arts and how they can create connections and invigorate communities. I began my career in academia and loved how intellectually fulfilling that work was, but I wanted to have a broader impact on the world around me, and help draw more people into contact with the life-changing power of art and ideas. For the past 20 years, my career has focused on bringing the arts and humanities to ever-wider audiences
to create opportunities and strengthen communities.
Tell us about the challenges you faced on your path, and what you learned from it.
My career hasn’t been as linear or predictable as I might have imagined when I was young—with four children and a couple of cross-country moves, I’ve had to press the re-start button a couple of times. As a kid, I always loved T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, where the young Arthur is transformed by Merlin into a fish, a hawk, a badger, and more, each time learning crucial lessons that in the end he draws on to pull the sword from the stone and emerge as a strong leader. I feel like my professional life has been like that: I’ve had a few different incarnations but at each stage, I’ve developed key capabilities, all of which I’m able to draw on now to be a successful leader. I’m thrilled that the Berkshires has given me a home where I can synthesize my past experiences to
make a difference in our community.
What “secret to success” would you share with young women entering the (Berkshire) workforce?
Curiosity and the drive to learn are key in every professional field. Find something you are passionate about, something that intrigues you and gets your juices flowing and then use your natural curiosity and hard work to propel you forward. Any exciting new opportunity is going to bring with it new challenges and firsts. Don’t let these deter you. There are so many ways to learn what you don’t know. Look for mentors and soak up new ideas and life lessons wherever you go.
What Berkshire women in business inspire you and why?
I am struck again and again by the exceptional women that lead nonprofits across Berkshire County. These women expertly navigate all the challenges of any
business—budgets, staffing, strategic planning—while also inspiring our community with their vision. There are dozens of women leading nonprofits I’ve looked to for inspiration since I had the good fortune to begin my role at CATA almost five years ago—too many to name! But one person on that list is Beryl Jolly at the Mahaiwe, who has built such a strong organization while radiating a positive, collaborative presence. I also have to mention my predecessor at CATA, Sandy Newman, who had the vision to found CATA out of her living room in 1993 and was so effective at inspiring others to get on board the CATA train.