Telluride’s Ah Haa School: Longtime Executive Director Judy Kohin Welcomes New ED Marty Wollsen!

Judy Kohin, artist and fearless leader

Telluride’s Ah Haa School: Longtime Executive Director Judy Kohin Welcomes New ED Marty Wollsen!

Martin (Marty) Wollesen has been appointed by Telluride’s Ah Haa School for the Arts Board of Directors to succeed Judy Kohin as Executive Director.

Go here to learn more about Ah Haa.  

Below Judy says good-bye and welcomes Marty.

Judy Kohin, artist and fearless leader

Judy Kohin, artist and fearless leader

Dear Friends,

It is with mixed emotions that I send you this note. As the Ah Haa School for the Arts approaches an exciting new era, I near the end of my long career at the school. There is much to be proud of and much to look forward to.

Ah Haa has made it through one of the most challenging years imaginable with our energetic staff and board intact. Further, with a projected mid-June move in date, Ah Haa’s phenomenal new facility will enhance and elevate everything we do. More space, increased exposure, state-of-the-art-studios, and diversified programming will bring art making and exploration to the forefront of our community. Ah Haa has firmly established itself as Telluride’s creativity hub—a center for endless possibilities.

I’m filled with a sense of joy and awe as I look back on the evolution of Ah Haa over 30 years—it’s been an extraordinary journey, and I’m truly humbled and grateful to have been a part of something so magnificent.

Ah Haa’s success stands on the shoulders of hundreds of enthusiasts and supporters. Our extended family of artists, teachers, students and volunteers has contributed to Ah Haa’s evolution. Our donors and supporters, who believe in our mission and vision, have enabled our doors to remain open for three decades, and now, in a forever home. THANK YOU!

To lead Ah Haa into this next chapter, I’m excited to introduce you to our new Executive Director, Marty Wollesen. Hailing most recently from Washington, D.C., Marty has a wealth of experience in the arts and non-profit management. (Learn about the highlights of his career below.) I am elated to have helped to find such an outstanding successor to take the helm of the Ah Haa School for the Arts and the American Academy of Bookbinding.

Once the Ah Haa team is settled in our new home, we’ll welcome visitors. Please set up a time to meet Marty, check out our new digs, or attend one of our opening celebrations, which will begin in July.

I’ll be here a few more weeks, until the end of May. Then I’ll take the summer off before reinventing myself. At this point I have no set plans, but I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life and whatever that brings.

With deep gratitude and lots of love,



Martin Wollesen is the new Executive Director of Telluride’s Ah Haa School.

A life-long learner, Marty Wollesen brings over 25 years of innovative leadership in the arts and arts education. Having led several multi-disciplinary performing arts organizations through significant expansion, his  wide-ranging curiosity, depth of experience, strategic visioning and commitment to community engagement should activate a new future for Ah Haa.

Currently a resident of Washington, D.C., most recently Wollesen provided executive, strategic and artistic leadership at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, where he provided oversight of the prestigious Artist Partners Program presenting national and international artists in music, dance and theater.

Wollesen also inaugurated the NextNOW Fest, an annual multi-day, multi-arts student festival of creativity; as well as a series of “Satellite Arts Partnerships” with local arts and social services organizations that created opportunities for local artists to engage with underserved communities. He renovated and opened, in partnership with the local community, a restaurant/bar/gallery/performance space; the only public-private venue of its kind associated with a university campus.

Previous to that, Wollesen founded ArtPower! at UC San Diego, a distinctive performing arts series presenting international contemporary dance, jazz, global music; classical and contemporary chamber music. He envisioned and collaboratively created a new campus venue, The Loft, a performance lounge/gallery/restaurant/wine bar where “emerging art and pop culture collide,” the first venue of its kind on a college campus.

He inaugurated the ArtPower! Film series, voted Best Film Festival in San Diego; Wonderland International Contemporary Dance Festival; and the Innovator-in-Residence Project connecting artists and scientists through creative exploration.

Wollesen also provided creative leadership at Stanford Lively Arts (Stanford University), Arts & Lectures (University of California, Santa Cruz); and Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation in several roles serving youth, teens and adults.

Wollesen began his new role with Ah Haa in April.

“We are so thrilled to have the creativity and experience Marty brings to Ah Haa School for the Arts at a significant moment of transition and growth for us as we prepare to launch a new future with the summer opening of our new building in the heart of downtown Telluride,” says Richard Cornelius, Board President. “And we are deeply grateful to Judy Kohin for her enduring leadership that has built Ah Haa into the beloved community resource that it is today. We look forward to being a part of her new chapter in Telluride.” 

The Ah Haa School will be opening a state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-foot, purpose-built facility for creative exploration in a variety of art making techniques with enhanced studios for painting and ceramics. The building will also feature a children’s art studio, and exhibition gallery, a teaching kitchen for the culinary arts, and flexible community gathering spaces that reflect its commitment to the creative culture of Telluride.

“I believe in the power of imagination and that creativity is core to the human spirit,” says Wollesen. “Ah Haa School for the Arts recognizes that everyone has something exciting to learn and something significant about themselves to share with others. I am very excited to join a team of artists, staff and community supporters who are actively nurturing the artistic soul of Telluride. Let’s have fun!”

About Ah Haa School for the Arts:

Ah Haa School for the Arts inspires people of all ages to discover, nurture and celebrate creativity through a wide range of experiential and interactive classes, workshops, exhibitions and community events. Opened in 1991 by visionary book artist, Daniel Tucker, Ah Haa is a community and destination school of highly accomplished artists and instructors serving over 10,000 children, teens and adults annually.

Ah Haa School for the Arts is also home to the American Academy of Bookbinding, a nationally recognized and accredited school for learning the craft of bookmaking and related subjects.

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