Darren Schilling, alumni and parent relations manager at Idyllwild Arts Academy, is the next speaker at the academy’s Spotlight on Leadership series. The series, presented by the Associates of Idyllwild Arts Foundation, is designed to bring the town and campus closer, showcasing key faculty and administration, and explaining the workings of the arts academy and its programs to Idyllwild residents.
And if anyone can tell the story of Idyllwild Arts compellingly, Schilling, who has been part of the school’s administration for 16 years, is the one. Plus, he is an engaging and thoughtful presenter, with an extensive business management background. In his years with the academy, Missouri native Schilling has served as director of public relations and as director of marketing.
His work with the academy, coordinating alumni and parent relations, requires solid people skills and puts him up close and personal with the academy’s international population — alumni, parents and students from more than 30 different countries in this year’s class.
Each year he helps coordinate international meet and greet trips to key recruiting destinations and current student home countries including Korea and China, as well as major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Denver and San Diego. Pamela Jordan, president and head of school, makes these annual trips to build engagement with the existing base of students, their parents, alumni and those interested in attending IAA.
“It’s important for our students, families and alumni to have a touch point with all those constituents and to hear updates on the work of the academy,” said Schilling. “When you have student families 6,000 miles away, it’s important for Pamela and the school to have that face time. And prospective families who attend can speak with others who are currently or have been connected with the academy about how Idyllwild Arts has influenced their lives. We want to keep the academy family connected, bring them back and continue the story.”
Schilling noted that last year, the international trip for Jordan was moved to spring break so that current students would be back in their home countries and able to attend with their parents.
Schilling, raised in Lockwood, Missouri, on his family’s farm, brings a friendly Midwest sensibility to his interaction with others. “My dad raised wheat, soybeans and beef cattle,” said Schilling. “I grew up driving a tractor by the time I was 11, just old enough to reach the pedals.” Schilling worked both stateside and internationally for Disney for 14 years directing training, development in the Disney Consumer Products division and later expansion of the Disney Stores brand in England, France, Germany and Spain.
Schilling holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Missouri State University in Springfield. His talk takes place at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at the Fireside Room of Nelson Dining Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus. Community members are urged to attend. There is no admission charge.