Marc Kassouf new Art Alliance president

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The Art Alliance of Idyllwild receives a rousing “thank you” from Mayor Max for its $1,000 donation for the Idyllwild Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Idyllwild Tree Restoration Project. Presenting the check to Phyllis Mueller (center), event coordinator of the Tree Lighting Ceremony, are new AAI board President Marc Kassouf (left) and outgoing President Gary Kuscher (right). AAI, a nonprofit organization, supports art education and promotes local artists and their work.   Photo by S.N. DePetris

The Art Alliance of Idyllwild receives a rousing “thank you” from Mayor Max for its $1,000 donation for the Idyllwild Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Idyllwild Tree Restoration Project. Presenting the check to Phyllis Mueller (center), event coordinator of the Tree Lighting Ceremony, are new AAI board President Marc Kassouf (left) and outgoing President Gary Kuscher (right). AAI, a nonprofit organization, supports art education and promotes local artists and their work.
Photo by S.N. DePetris

Marc Kassouf, co-owner of Quiet Creek Inn with partner Nathan Depetris, is the new president of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, one of the most active and visible of Idyllwild’s many nonprofits.

He had previously served on the AAI board and was chosen for this demanding post because of his project management, business and organizational expertise. As AAI’s projects and activities expand, Kassouf’s background was viewed as a perfect match for AAI and its future growth. Gary Kuscher, who has guided AAI as president for the last several years, will move to vice president, a position he had previously held.

Kassouf, born in Lebanon, grew up in the Middle East and Europe before his family settled in the United States. When he first came to the U.S. as a young boy, he spoke only Arabic and French, no English. “I had this immigrant overachiever attitude,” said Kassouf, who attended middle school and high school in Riverside County (John Wesley North High School in Riverside), Cal State Long Beach, where he graduated in just over three years with a bachelor’s in Business, and University of California, Irvine where he obtained an M.B.A.

In his varied business career, Kassouf worked in the hospitality, hotel and travel industry as an executive overseeing finance, business and IT operations of luxury resorts and boutique inns. He is an award-winning travel writer and a sought-after speaker and presenter at travel and hotel trade shows, webinars and workshops.

Kassouf has received the Wave TrendSetter Award, the Oscar or Emmy of the travel-seller industry, four times and has won awards for film editing within the travel industry.

Although modest and soft-spoken, Kassouf’s résumé and areas of expertise would qualify him as a Renaissance Man — with interests and backgrounds in creative writing, film, photography, business management, financial services, travel and leisure recreation, finance, real estate law and tech management.

He said he is excited to bring his attention and abilities to the Art Alliance. He looks forward to expanding the reputation AAI is achieving nationally with projects such as the Herd Gathering/Deer Sighting installation throughout the Idyllwild business corridor. “AAI is one of the premier organizations that benefits the entire community, not just artists,” said Kassouf. “People from other cities are coming here to ask about this public art installation and how we did this.”

Asked about chairing a board, Kassouf said he always is conscious of what people volunteer, what they bring and give, and that he is grateful for those gifts. “I have worked so often as a consultant, managing teams and seeing projects through to completion,” he said. “I’m a problem solver by nature. My approach is that simple is best; it is the least prone to breaking down.”

Kassouf noted that for art to flourish, an environment must be created that allows artists to do their best work, and that requires managerial and entrepreneurial skills. “AAI is not just an art club for artists,” he said. “Some members are not artists at all. This is an association for the arts in Idyllwild at which all in the community have a voice and a seat at the table.”

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