Faith Raiguel, chair of Idyllwild Arts Board of Governors. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

“It’s a wonderful community here — the administrators, staff, teachers, students alumni and governors and trustees,” began Faith Raiguel, chair of the Board of Governors for the Idyllwild Arts Academy. “Some live in the community and some off the Hill.”

The board is meeting more frequently in the absence of a school head. They are working closely with the the interim heads — Dr. Douglas Ashcraft, interim head of cchool, and dean of arts for the Idyllwild Arts Academy,
and Steve Fraider, interim executive director, Idyllwild Arts Foundation and director of the Summer Program.

The school community is uniting and morale is improving, Raiguel observed. These changes may even be an accidental byproduct of the changes at the leadership level in the past several years, according to her.

This attention to detail comes easily for Raiguel. While most of her career has been associated with the arts, currently the Los Angeles Opera, she is a certified public accountant and not a professional artist.

Her accounting career has taken her from the Washington political arena to the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, the Autry Center and even Walt Disney. Currently she serves as the chief financial officer for the Los Angeles Opera.

Growing up in Claremont, she first came to Idyllwild and the school’s summer program in the late 1960s. She was one of four Claremont students with music scholarships.

Singing in the choir is how she first met former Idyllwild Arts President Bill Lowman, current board colleague and Idyllwild resident Dwight “Buzz” Holmes and the director of the children’s programs Bruce McMenamin.

“After three summers it gets in your blood,” she said. Her kinship with Idyllwild Arts was passed on to her children, who both spent summers there. Her daughter even declared her intention to attend the academy for her senior year of high school.

As an adult, Raiguel returned to the summer program for watercolor and drawing classes. Besides her personal addiction to the school’s programs, she affirms her love for the institution’s mission, which is not merely training pre-professional artists.

“There are four legs to the school and arts is only one,” she emphasized. “Academics, physical activities and personal character are the others. We need to nurture each one.”

Having seen the school’s community come together this fall and the greater board involvement, she said the governance leaders intend to evaluate the school’s structure and leadership needs before initiating recruitment for a new president.

That step may not occur before late winter or spring, but the board wants to be sure what skills, talents and qualities it needs to move forward.

“We’ll evaluate what we’ve learned from Bill’s [Lowman] time and his strengths. Maybe we’ll consider changes or a new structure,” she said. The board will conduct its assessment this fall and winter.

But she also stressed, that this would be a short-term strategic plan. “It would not be helpful to complete a long-term plan without involving the new president, who would want to do that — a fait accompli — not much room for their input,” she said.

The school’s current enrollment is nearly 300 students — town and residential. Whether the school expands beyond that level will be addressed in a long-term plan.

When her term as board chair expires, Raiguel expects to stay involved on the governing board or as a trustee. “It’s in my blood,” she acknowledged.