Mark Davis is leaving a 24-year career in communications and marketing at UCLA to take up a new position as director of Programs at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Programs.Photo by Marshall Smith
Mark Davis is leaving a 24-year career in communications and marketing at UCLA to take up a new position as director of Programs at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Programs. Photo by Marshall Smith

Pamela Jordan, Idyllwild Arts Foundation president, announced that Mark Davis will join the Idyllwild Arts administration in a new position, director of Programs.

Davis leaves a 24-year career at University of California Los Angeles in communications and marketing, with broad-based skill sets and areas of expertise that match the growing needs of the Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program.

While at UCLA, Davis’ career responsibilities consisted of advancement work including strategic planning, board management, forming strategic partnerships, programming, customer relations, group travel, and event travel and management.

In his most recent capacity as chief operations officer and associate editorial director for UCLA Magazine, Davis was tasked with tracking and implementing new communication technologies. In 2014, he guided UCLA Magazine into new distribution platforms including tablet app, podcast and website. As Davis noted of his work at UCLA, “I was the guy usually tapped to figure out, execute and manage a new idea or project.”

In his previous UCLA positions as senior director, alumni and executive communications for alumni affairs and director of communications for alumni relations, Davis was responsible for developing brand-consistent approaches to communication strategies and implementing short and long term plans to promoted greater connectivity among UCLA’s 405,000 living alumni and 90,000 UCLA Alumni Association members. Davis was also responsible for devising an organizational framework for a 60-member alumni affairs staff to better facilitate career planning and transition programs, out of state/international student planning recruitment efforts, campus-wide volunteer management and parent and family associations.

“I loved my time at UCLA,” said Davis. “I always had to be learning something new. There were always students in the building and I got to sit down and listen to what was piquing their interests.”

It is that opportunity to sit with students, faculty and staff to discuss how best to expand the vision for Idyllwild Arts that Davis said he is most anticipating. “I get to see the work of staff that has been there for awhile, to listen, to respond and help them see the Idyllwild Arts vision from a new perspective.”

Davis noted that often, in a work culture, what has been done before is enshrined and to some degree sacrosanct. He mentioned he had asked Steve Fraider (retiring IA executive director and vice president, Summer Program) about possible staff sensitivity over pursuing new approaches. “What if I come up with a boneheaded idea?” Davis said he had asked. “Just put it in there,” Fraider had said.

“Sometimes people say we tried that before and it didn’t work,” Davis said of his own experience. “But it could have been that it didn’t work then for a variety of reasons and that now circumstances may have changed. It just means looking at things from a new angle.”

Davis said he’s looking forward to his new job. “I’m excited to put my skills and experience to work to help Idyllwild Arts achieve its mission and goals. I believe strongly in arts education and its value to people of all ages. Idyllwild Arts Academy and Summer Program occupy a unique and necessary place on the Hill and in Southern California.”

Of the challenge before him, Davis said, “We have to be open to a new perspective on Idyllwild Arts. We get to make new mistakes, resolve the old and stumble on to the new. That’s how we learn.”

In addition to being a magazine editor and communications manager, Davis is an accomplished writer, columnist, and avid singer. In interview he is thoughtful, clear in his communication and modest, qualities that can serve to enroll others and build consensus.

Davis holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with concentrated studies in English and theatre arts from the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana.

Davis and husband Eduardo Santiago have had a cabin in Idyllwild for five years but are now relocating to the Hill as full-time residents. Santiago founded and heads the popular Idyllwild Authors Series, now in its fifth season.