Transition announcement from Jessica Robinson Love and the Board of CounterPulse

Transition announcement from Jessica Robinson Love and the Board of CounterPulse

From Jessica Robinson Love,
Executive & Artistic Director

Dear colleagues, artists, supporters, and friends,

I could scarcely have imagined when I ascended the long stairs at 848 Community Space fourteen years ago to become its sole staff member, that “the little space that could” would become a bustling professional theater and a nationally-recognized model for building community through socially-engaged art.

CounterPulse is thriving. We have a visionary and strategic board of directors, a dedicated and experienced staff, a financial reserve that’s rare for an organization of our size, and a real estate partnership with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust that provides tremendous opportunity toward long-term security.

That’s why after fourteen years at the helm of CounterPulse, I’m preparing to pursue new professional challenges. On October 1st, I’ll step aside so that the organization can begin a new chapter under new leadership. I’ve carefully chosen this time after months of planning in consultation with our board and staff, to coincide with several major benchmarks we’ll reach in September in our journey toward securing a permanent home.

I’m thrilled that our Program Director, Julie Phelps, has agreed to serve as Interim Executive & Artistic Director and support the organization and community through this transition. Julie and I have worked side-by-side for seven years, and she did a remarkable job serving as interim leader during my sabbatical in 2012. I have boundless faith in her aptitude to lead the organization during this transition. Under her leadership and with the partnership of Shamsher Virk, Jeanne Pfeffer, Zoë Klein, and Jason McArthur, CounterPulse’s programming will continue to be vibrant, relevant and responsive to our communities of artists and audiences.

CounterPulse has been my life’s work. I’m particularly proud of building Performing Diaspora, of overseeing a successful move to Mission Street 10 great years ago, and of helping create a strategic plan that enshrines support for artists, social change, and equity in the heart of what we do. Of course, none of this would have been possible without visionary funders who have supported this work, a superhero board, the world’s best staff, and the countless hours of sweat equity that our communities have put in over many years. While I’ll miss being at the center of this incredible hub of art, ideas, and people, I plan to remain involved as a lifelong advocate for CounterPulse and as a champion for the move into its beautiful new home.

But I’m not gone yet! We have much to accomplish in the next three months, and I’ll be calling on all of you to join me in further securing the organization’s future as we launch an amazing fall season and get ready for the big move.

See you soon at CounterPulse!

Jessica Robinson Love


From Laura Elaine Ellis,
Board Chair

As a board — so proud to be serving CounterPulse — it is with deep gratitude and dedicated support that we bid our current Executive & Artistic Director, Jessica Robinson Love, best wishes as she begins her next journey. She is truly a visionary and she will forever be a part of the CounterPulse legacy!

This is an extraordinary time for CounterPulse. We recently completed a strategic plan for this organization, guided by our mission to create a space for risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. The planning and implementation of CounterPulse’s impactful work — led by Jessica — has been dutifully and passionately shared and nurtured with keen, “hands-on” involvement of the staff and board. During her tenure, Jessica has overseen a 10-fold budget increase, built a financial reserve, and set CounterPulse up for long-term sustainability by forging a partnership with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust to finance its new home at 80 Turk Street. The organization has never been stronger, and this is an exciting time for us to welcome new leadership. As we enter this next phase for CounterPulse, the board is pleased that Julie Phelps — current Program Director — will serve as our Interim Executive & Artistic Director beginning October of 2014.

The CounterPulse family of staff and board — supported by and serving artists, members, donors, and funders — looks to the future of CounterPulse readily, as we prepare to make a bold and strategic move to our new home at 80 Turk Street. As part of this vision, it is our desire to expand our impact and potential, delve more deeply into our commitment to community engagement and artistic incubation by building an art-making space that will nurture the imaginations, experiences, and explorations of artists, community members, and audiences. We’ve been presented with tremendous opportunities: a stable real estate solution, a space that will allow for expanded programming, and new partnership opportunities with peer arts organizations, social justice nonprofits, corporate neighbors, and city government. We are thrilled that Jessica will continue to support the CounterPulse family as we celebrate our ground-breaking, capital campaign launch, and risk-taking programming in our new space!

Our board and staff will be in touch with our community of artists, art lovers and supporters, as we thoughtfully and diligently work, create, and build toward this next phase of our journey. Please feel free to contact the Transition Committee with suggestions, ideas, inquiries, and gestures of support at Your thoughts are most welcome.

Our mission:
CounterPulse is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. We provide space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPulse acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, sparking transformation in our communities and our society. We work towards a world that celebrates diversity of race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity & sexual orientation. We strive to create an environment that is physically and economically accessible to everyone.

In September, the CounterPulse family will be hosting a celebration for Jessica Robinson Love, honoring her tenure and service to CounterPulse and the Bay Area arts community at large. Look for an invitation to that special event in the near future.

Looking Forward,

Laura Elaine Ellis, Board President
On behalf of the CounterPulse Board of Directors

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