Jeff Dvorak, chair of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation Board of Governors.  Photo by J.P. Crumrine
Jeff Dvorak, chair of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation Board of Governors.
Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Last Saturday, Jeff Dvorak of Palm Springs, assumed the chair of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation. He was the vice-chair and succeeds Faith Raiguel, who was IAF chair since 2008.

Similar to Raiguel, Dvorak brings a financial background to the foundation. After a 32-year career, including 20 as a partner in the Los Angeles Lead Tax Services Group, Dvorak retired as a tax consultant from Deloitte LLP.

Dvorak originally learned about Idyllwild Arts from one of his former clients — Earl Fisher, a former Governing Board member. After a lunch with Fisher and attending an orchestral performance in Los Angeles, his interest was piqued.

“After I heard the students, I figured I should come up to Idyllwild,” Dvorak said. That was 1998 and a year later he was a board member.

Despite coming from a family of athletes, Dvorak said it was the arts that helped formed his self-confidence. Chorales are very popular in the Midwest where he was born and grew up. From elementary school through high school and college and into adulthood, he has sung with various choirs, although he confessed that his solo performances have been limited to his car.

“Everybody can be different and still be successful,” he said. “Arts have a special place in my heart. Without [them], I’m not sure I’d be a success.”

This recognition of the value of arts to an individual’s growth has guided him with his relationship at IA. “In so many public schools, the arts are going away. They are not spending money for these,” Dvorak said. “[Idyllwild Arts] creates great leaders whether they are or aren’t in the art world. It has shaped how they think and create.”

As he assumes the reins, Dvorak says the IA community’s next step is to begin a strategic plan. The past couple of years have involved a process of looking inward as the board has been searching for and choosing a new president.

Since Pamela Jordan of the Chicago Academy of Arts only begins her tenure on July 1, Dvorak recognizes that the long-term planning process may take some time to begin, but he is looking forward to this step.

“We’ve spent a lot of lime looking at ourselves, figuring out who we are and evaluating how we do things,” he said. “Now we can look forward … Every nonprofit organization has a life cycle. We’re still really young and growing into the next step and that does not necessarily mean bigger.”

Dvorak chaired the search committee that recommended Jordan as the institutions’ next leader. The members devoted a lot of time searching and screening potential candidates.

“We had an amazing number of people interested. There were more than 100 applications, which had to be narrowed several times,” he said, describing the process. “Eventually we had three really good finalists and each was very different.”

His investment in IA has been very valuable for him and a new path of his life. “Work has stress,” Dvork said. “This isn’t without stress, but it’s much more personally rewarding.”

The other new Board of Governor’s officers are Susan Reardon, vice chair; Tom Bliss, treasurer; and Bill Barnett, secretary.

Joining the board are Harry Griswold, Stephanie Weber (both from San Diego) and Nancy Stephens of Riverside, whose husband Glen is already a governor.

Continuing as trustees are Michael Barnett and Elizabeth Johnson, both alumni, and academy parents Eric and Erica Sklar.