After a long and distinguished tenure marked by innovation, growth, and unwavering commitment to arts and culture, Sally Perry, the Executive Director of the NOCCA Foundation, has announced her retirement, effective July 1, 2024.
In November 1998, Perry was chosen to helm the NOCCA Foundation and carry out its mission to support the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. For over 25 years, she has led the nonprofit through capital campaigns and land acquisition to expand and enhance NOCCA’s campus; helped the Foundation grow and adapt to the changing needs of NOCCA students and faculty; and safely steered the organization through the turbulent times of Hurricane Katrina, the Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout it all, Perry has remained steadfastly supportive of NOCCA and its mission to educate the next generation of Louisiana artists.
In addition to the capital campaigns mentioned above — which themselves required raising over $30 million — Perry also committed to fund new curricula for NOCCA. In collaboration with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Perry raised funds for a summer program in Culinary Arts for high school students that was piloted over four years. She then raised even more dollars to support the development of what may be the country’s only four-year high school conservatory curriculum in Culinary Arts when that program officially launched in 2011.
Around the same time, Perry led Foundation staff to raise funds to support NOCCA’s research and development of a cutting-edge academic curriculum that would give young artists a means of learning history and biology in the same hands-on, project-based way that they train in their arts disciplines. Today, that curriculum sits at the heart of NOCCA’s full-day, diploma-granting Academic Studio program, in which roughly half of NOCCA’s student body is enrolled.
Reflecting on her time on the NOCCA campus, Perry shared her thoughts on the journey: “It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as the Executive Director of the NOCCA Foundation. Witnessing the artistic growth and achievements of NOCCA’s students has been the highlight of my career, and being able to play a role in support of them will remain one of my proudest achievements.”
The NOCCA Foundation has been a driving force in providing resources, scholarships, and support for students pursuing their passion in the arts at NOCCA. The Foundation also funds residencies with guest artists, supports professional development opportunities for NOCCA’s acclaimed faculty, and oversees a host of other programs to address emerging needs.
Shanekah Johnson, President of the NOCCA Foundation Board, expressed gratitude for Perry’s impactful contributions: “Sally has been a transformative leader, guiding the Foundation with vision and dedication. As a trained artist herself, she has a deep appreciation for the arts and arts education. Her legacy will endure in the countless students whose lives have been touched by the Foundation’s programs under her stewardship. We thank Sally for her unwavering commitment and wish her the very best in the next chapter of her life.”
Silas Cooper, the President and CEO of NOCCA, lauded Perry’s dedication and her collaborative spirit: “NOCCA has been very fortunate to have the Foundation in its corner, working tirelessly to give faculty and students the tools they need to excel. And I have been equally fortunate to have had Sally as a colleague — someone who shares my belief that the arts make the world a better place and that the best leaders are those with creative minds.”
The NOCCA Foundation has begun a nationwide search for a new Executive Director to build upon the foundation laid by Sally Perry and to continue the organization’s mission of supporting NOCCA as it nurtures the next generation of artistic talent. The search is being managed by The Jones Group of New Orleans.