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Emily sitting on a stone step in front of a red door.
Emily Simoness. (Photo by Ben Allen)

SPACE on Ryder Farm Co-Founder Emily Simoness to Step Down

Simoness, who is also the company’s executive director, will step aside in September, citing the importance of leadership turnover.

BREWSTER, N.Y.: SPACE on Ryder Farm has announced that co-founder and executive director Emily Simoness has decided to step down from her role in September. Simoness will remain active with SPACE during the search and leadership transition processes. According to a statement from Janet Olshansky, chair of SPACE’s 15-member board of directors, an interim executive director will be brought on this fall, with hopes of having a permanent executive director in place in the first quarter of 2022.

“It has become really clear to me in the past couple of years that I am at my best and at my happiest at the beginning, in the creating and visioning of something,” Simoness said in a statement. “After 11 years, SPACE is ready for a leader who will steward its next phase. I believe that leadership turnover is healthy for continued growth and development of an organization. Changes in perspectives and skills ensure continued relevance and ability to respond to changing times in a meaningful way. People stay in these roles for too long! At SPACE, we value a dinner table with multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. It’s my belief that executive leadership should reflect this value.”

Simoness, an eighth-generation Ryder Family member, has overseen the organization’s growth from a group of friends rehabilitating structures on a historic farm into a highly sought-after residency program. Under her leadership, the SPACE team has rehabilitated the farm’s historic homes and 127 acreages, which ensured the preservation of one of the oldest continually owned family farms on the East Coast. Since 2011, SPACE has provided residencies and supported more than 1,400 creative residents.

“Emily is a generous visionary who has created something of a utopia for artists working in the theatre and on the land,” said playwright Sarah Ruhl in a statement. “Her stewardship of the land and the people on it has been so remarkable, and I know she will give the same care to the transition into a new epoch for SPACE. I so loved my time there and think the theatre world has so much to learn from SPACE as a model of how to live and work with one another. The care is palpable, and Emily’s handprint will forever be on that long picnic table where folks break bread.”

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