Heather Pollak to begin with Duke Ellington School of the Arts
For Jericho High School alumnus Heather Pollak, the job of her dreams is not only in reach, it’s just around the corner. Following her graduation from Shenedoah University, Pollak will begin her promising career path working for a nonprofit organization associated with the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Pollak, a Jericho High School class of 2011 graduate, has had a vested interest in the arts, particularly the performing arts, for as long as she can remember. A dedicated dancer, actively involved in multiple dance programs throughout elementary, middle and high school, Pollak has known for some time that she would like to pursue some sort of career involving multiple artistic mediums.
Upon graduating high school, Pollak made the decision to attend Montclair State University, in which she would pursue a major in dance and a minor in psychology in the school’s honors college program.
It was during these four years that Pollak participated in a variety of dance department activities, often volunteering, auditioning potential new dancers and devising many choreographed solo and group performances. This level of engagement helped her discover a passion and aptitude for leadership and management, skills which she would later apply during her graduate studies at Shenendoah University.
At Shenendoah, a small private colllege in Winchester, VA, Pollak was enrolled in the performing arts leadership and management program, a perfect fusion of her interests that would propel her toward her ultimate goal of working in an administrative position for an arts-oriented institution.
“Shenendoah is very much a family kind of environment,” said Pollak with nostalgic appreciation while reflecting on her past two years at the university. “I’ve been able to develop relationships with students and administrators, and take diverse courses in leadership, fundraising, marketing and others that gave me taste of different parts of arts management, which really guided me toward what I would like to do career-wise.”
That guidance proved to be highly influential, as Pollak was recently offered a full-time position with the Ellington Fund, a nonprofit organization that serves as the charitable arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. The fund administers and supports several programs and activities at school that are not funded by the D.C. public school system, and she will soon serve as the newest development associate and special projects coordinator for the organization.
Pollak accepted the position just weeks prior to her graduation. She is both excited to begin this new chapter of her life, and confident that her experiences at Shendoah have left her well prepared for whatever the future may hold.
“I really did jump in headfirst here,” said Pollak. “It has allowed to grow as professional and understand all facets of professionalism, which is absolutely something I will take with me going forward.”
Between serving as the student government association’s vice president for graduate affairs as well as the director of professional development, Pollak has certainly demonstrated her ability to lead others and accept tremendous responsibilities. She also worked in both career services and the center for public service and scholarship, all the while receiving high marks in her classes and completing various internships in her field of interest.
As for her once beloved hobby of dancing, Pollak says she has abandoned the art in lieu of helping others participate in art forms they may be passionate about.
“Providing arts for all and making sure that the arts are accessible and not exclusionary is my passion,” she said. “I jokingly consider myself a retired performer. My priority now is helping those who want to continue dancing, and putting the work of others before my own. I’m not as passionate about dancing for myself as I am about supporting others.”