Vail Symposium has new director |

Vail Symposium has new director

Daily staff report
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Symposium change-up KA 01-06-09

VAIL, Colorado ” Turns out that change was not only an influential theme for a historical political election, it was a catalyst for two young women thousands of miles apart.

In October of 2008, Fraidy Aber, the former Vail Symposium executive director, decided to put the wheels in motion to make a life-changing move to San Francisco. Here she would have the chance to live near her sister, and get involved in one of our country’s and the world’s non-profit meccas.

On the other coast, the Symposium’s new executive director, Carrie Marsh, decided to return to her home state of Colorado after spending more than 10 years in the East, where she launched her career in non-profit management and fundraising.

“Deciding to work in the non-profit arena was a no-brainer. It runs in my blood,” Marsh said.

Marsh’s family is deeply rooted in civic engagement and philanthropy. She has worked for a variety of organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

“While in New York, I had dreams of simply throwing my stuff in the back of a truck and driving back to my roots,” Marsh said.

Though a tough decision, she said, that’s exactly what she did.

The long-awaited, recent return to Colorado was filled with family, dogs and outdoor time, when she came upon the job announcement with the Vail Symposium.

“The position is such a great fit,” Marsh said. “It really synthesizes my strengths and gives me the opportunity to grow a grassroots yet worldly institution.”

In 2009, the Vail Symposium turns 38 years old, making it the second oldest non-profit in the Valley. Its history follows the trajectory of the Valley itself. Originally created by the Town of Vail to serve the newly budding community with an annual weekend Symposium, in the last 10 years the organization has morphed into one that provides high-caliber speakers, classes, films and forums for dialogue, year round.

In 1999, Ebby Pinson set out to gather a core constituency that was hungry to bring a new kind of year-round programming to the Valley. She succeeded, and after spending seven years rebuilding the Symposium, Pinson passed the torch to Fraidy Aber, the executive director for the past three years.

Under Aber’s leadership, the Symposium saw its audience more than double, its generational reach and funding base expand, and programming significantly increase. Aber is particularly proud of local partnerships that have been developed and her work with the Asia Society, development of the Active Minds series and the Healthy Homes Fair and Tour.

“Helping to build our community resource of educational engagement has been extraordinary,” Aber said. “Not only have I had the opportunity to connect with the over 200 speakers that we have presented, but, I have also had the honor of working with board members and participants, that have served as local and global leaders of their time.”

Marsh is looking forward to building upon the foundation that her predecessors built, she said.

“I am so lucky to work with an organization that is so deeply rooted in the community ” one of the Symposium’s greatest assets,” she said. “I plan to extend the organizations reach, while preserving its community focus and nature.”

Among many goals, Marsh has spearheaded an internship program in cooperation with advisory board member, Susan Makin Dolan. This opportunity will offer students the chance learn about non-profit management while meeting some of the greatest thinkers, speakers, politicians, artists and adventurers from around the world.

For more information on the Vail Symposium, visit

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