Deborah Farris, the chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based nonprofit Danceworks, is stepping down after leading the organization for nearly two decades.
Farris joined Danceworks in 2002 as its first executive director.
“After 18 years with Danceworks, and successfully navigating the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing felt right for me to take on a new challenge,” Farris said.
During her tenure, Danceworks’ budget has grown from $300,000 to $1.4 million. It is supported by the United Performing Arts Fund as one of its member groups.
The organization offers weekly dance and dance fitness classes for youth and adults, dance programming in Milwaukee-area schools and for older adults, and regular community performances.
Its signature Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap program, now in its 15th year, has served more than 30,000 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade Milwaukee students.
“We want to thank Debbie for her years of wonderful, passionate leadership of Danceworks," said Anthony Jones, president of the Danceworks board. “The organization is in a strong financial position and has an enthusiastic and talented staff, many of whom have been mentored by her.”
The board is immediately beginning a search for its next leader while Farris stays on as a consultant to the board during the transition.