Thursday, October 29, 2015

Larissa Reece’s New Perspective

By Megan Willman

A native Louisvillian, Larissa Reece never expected to leave her hometown. As a matter of fact, her family has been in Kentucky for six generations. Everyone she knew and loved was here, so it was never on her radar to leave. So, no one was more surprised than Larissa when she took a job as vice president for development and alumni affairs at New York Medical College.

Larissa had been working in development at UofL Medical School. The current dean at UofL accepted a job in New York City and recruited Larissa for the position. Soon to be empty-nesters as their younger child went to college, Larissa and her husband saw the opportunity as the chance of a lifetime. The experience, Larissa says, opened up her worldview and provided a different lens for how she looks at the world.

New York is home to many philanthropic organizations, so Larissa had a chance to meet and network with the best in her field. She says she also fully embraced the endless opportunities to experience the arts. She promised herself that while in New York she would say “yes” to invitations, making sure that she experienced the adventure of life in the city. This big step out of her comfort zone gave Larissa a new level of confidence and self-sufficiency she’d never had before, she says. One terrific surprise was that public transit was so easy to navigate.

As Larissa had expected, New York was crowded. If she thought she’d had a unique idea for the day, she always found that thousands of others had envisioned the same “unique” plan. What she didn’t expect, however, was how welcome she felt. She’d heard that New York had a reputation for rudeness and life at a fast pace. But Larissa and her husband were regularly invited to holiday and family gatherings with new friends who didn’t want them to feel alone.

After three years, Larissa came home to visit family and encountered another career opportunity. Although Larissa’s fundraising experience had been in the medical field, The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts had been the fabric of her life in Louisville. Larissa was deeply inspired by President Kim Baker’s vision for The Center and its impact in our community and around the state. She began working at The Center as senior vice president for development and government affairs.

Larissa says her new position marries all of her experiences of the past and presents a wonderful opportunity to help develop our community’s connection to arts and culture.

Upon returning home, Larissa set another goal for herself: “to retain the openness and willingness she had found to put herself out there and try new things.” One of her first weekends back home, she went to World Fest, where she saw three friends from high school. When she was growing up in Louisville, Larissa didn’t give much thought to how often she would see people she knew out in the city, she says. It happened all the time. In New York, she could go anywhere and never see a familiar face. As Louisvillians, she says, “We should never forget how special that is.”

1 comment:

  1. I met Larissa in NYC and not only has she become a mentor for me, she has basically become a member of my family! Her dedication and commitment to the arts continues to inspire me, and although I am happy she is back home in Louisville, I know "NYC" was sad to see her go.


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