New director for Vail Symposium |

New director for Vail Symposium

Cassie Pence
AE Fraidy/Ebby PU 3-2

VAIL ” The Vail Symposium is experiencing a changing of the guards.

After seven years as president, Ebby Pinson is retiring from the valley’s oldest nonprofit, which offers more than 60 educational and cultural programs for the community year-round. Created in 1971, the Vail Symposium’s mission is to host events which are thought provoking, diverse and affordable. Everything from film series to lectures on Pine Beetles to mask-making workshops have appeared on the group’s schedules. Fraidy Aber will replace Pinson as executive director.

“She’s just perfect for the job,” Pinson said. “She has a wonderful enthusiasm and knows so many people in the valley, and she loves the living here.”

When Pinson first started at the symposium, it didn’t even have a brochure or a Web site. Pinson said she had to work hard with the board of directors to improve program quality and increase recognition of the nonprofit.

“It’s a very entrepreneurial business,” Pinson said. “You have to figure out how to make it all work and be on the cutting edge.”

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Now, experts are calling the symposium to host their discussions and workshops, instead of the other way around. Pinson has a choice in programming,which, she said, is a wonderful place to be.

“Ebby has grown the symposium into such a thriving organization, that it’s a pleasure walking into it right now,” Aber said.

Aber comes to the symposium from the town of Avon, where she worked as special events coordinator and the Avon Rec Center’s collateral and marketing coordinator since 2003. Prior to that, Aber was the director of public programs for the Hudson River Park, a 5-mile stretch of land from Battery Park to 59th street along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s west side. It’s the largest public open space project in Manhattan since the completion of Central Park, Aber said. Similar to Pinson, Aber built the Hudson River Park programming from the ground up.

“The public programs grew 30 fold in those five years I was there, and they reached more than 30,000 people,” Aber said.

Aber developed all kinds of series for the park, including a blues and brew festival, a film series, swims in the Hudson River and an oyster rehabilitation lab with high schoolers. Teaching, especially using nonntraditional methods, is one of Aber’s passion, which she said fits in well with the symposium’s mission.

“I like taking education and making it fun for people,” Aber said.

As new executive director, Aber plans to continue the high level of programming Pinson has already established, but increase access to the events and try to get younger people and families involved. Pinson has already invited younger people to join the board of directors.

“These programs are so fun for so many ages,” Aber said. “I want to bring more younger people into the mix and into the fold.”

Although the summer schedule is already set, Aber said one of her ideas for the symposium is to connect film and food during a series.

“The Vail Symposium is really a service to the community,” Aber said. “We open people minds, cultivate ideas and that’s a great mission to be walking into.”

Summer preview

Here are some Vail Symposium summer schedule highlights, according to

Fraidy Aber and Ebby Pinson:

” When nature bites back: a geologist tour on sink holes, avalanches and other natural happenings due to man’s effect on the environment.

” Art tour to Steamboat Springs, featuring an insiders look at the artist community

” Green homes tour through Eagle County

” Origami workshop

What’s left of winter for the Vail Symposium:

Thursday ” Unlimited Adventure series with Jim Cole at Donovan Park Pavilion, discussing “Spirit of the Grizzly.”

Sunday ” Backyard Adventure to Silver City Dog Sled Races at Camp Hale

March 14 ” Cultural Arts: Lee MacCormick Edwards, PhD, discusses “John Singer Sargent and the Power of Portraiture” in Edwards at the Cordillera Valley Club

March 16 ” Hot Topic with Dr. Vince Matthews discussing “China and India’s

Ravenous Appetite for Colorado’s Natural Resources” at the Brush Creek Pavilion in Eagle

March 28 ” Know Your Valley: Brenda Wilmore and Dr. Jonathan G. Taylor discuss “Running from Fire?” at the Singletree Community Center in Edwards

April 5 ” Cultural Arts: Erika Ammann teaches a furniture painting workshop in the style of Bauernmalerei at Morter Architects in Vail

April 22 ” Second annual Vail Valley Earth Day Celebration at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion

Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or

Vail, Colorado

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