Change comes to the Sonoma Community Center

Posted on July 26, 2012 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Tom Montan takes over for Toni Castrone as events manager of the Sonoma Community Center.

Through dedication and hard work, The Sonoma Community Center has become a unifying center of creativity for Sonoma locals.  Over the course of the past 50 years, the SCC has supported Sonoma’s artistic and educational enrichment including classes in music, yoga, painting, and pottery.  Throughout those years, its expansion and diversification has guaranteed various programs for personal development.

A personnel shift at the center purports that change is coming – but only for the best.  The newest staff member, Tom Montan who takes over as events manager, says his days have been packed with learning his new role.  “I am excited to be joining the very talented and extremely dedicated staff at the Sonoma Community Center. After many years working as the CEO for local bookstore chain, Copperfield’s Books, I have spent the last year and half working full time as a professional artist.  When the opportunity arose to apply my skills to the nonprofit sector and this center in particular, I jumped at the chance.”

Montan went on to say that he was familiar with the SCC from his many trips to Sonoma during his 30 years as a Sonoma County resident.  “This is a great city and an even more awesome community. After coming from the ‘for profit’ side of things, I have to say that one of the most refreshing things about my new role as events manager is that there are so many people who here to lend a helping hand, and to give of their time and expertise. I know that much of the help I need is only a phone call, (or a few steps for that matter) away. How cool is that?”

Kathy Swett, executive director for the past eight years has similar feelings, remarking that, “my many responsibilities have completely engaged me and it has been a great experience.” Although Swett retired last week officially, she has decided to stay on part time to aid in the planning and progress of several projects she has overseen since the beginning. As well as wanting to focus on particular interests versus a broad scope of duties, Swett chose to retire “Because I have accomplished everything I envisioned happening. I feel youthful energy will revitalize our cultural center to the next level.”

Swett continued, saying that building the Community Center was one of the most enjoyable parts of her job, due to the dedication of the staff.  She now foresees spending her available time on developing a volunteering center, remodeling Andrew Hall, and going away to her retreat in Montana to be with horses and enjoy peace and relaxation.

Incoming ED, Toni Castrone, has been with the Community Center for four years learning the nuts and bolts as event manager. Although the strategic planning retreat lays out the foundation for executive directors, each directorship has a different style and emphasis.

“I have a passion for the nonprofit industry – the dynamic is very challenging and requires daily problem solving and creativity,” said Castrone. Swett’s path of hiring from within will enable Castrone to “stay on the course towards greatness that Kathy has laid out for me, as I feel our goals are aligned very closely.”

“To be working in such a vital and creative center is very fun! I am looking forward to diving in and learning as much as I can so that I may be of service to this community and vibrant community center. The events role is a big one as it encompasses so many important city-wide events, and with such a rich history, I very big shoes to fill.”

This sense of creativity envisioned by the Community Center’s executive directors and the rest of the staff has allowed for a seamless transition in leadership – one that will continue to foster the Community Center’s artistic flare for public programming.

Adelia Gregory contributed to this story.

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