WNY Book Arts Center announces departure of Executive Director


After three years of outstanding service to Book Arts and the WNY community, Nicole Cooke, Executive Director, will be leaving Book Arts to pursue her next adventure. The board and staff at Book Arts are extremely thankful for Nicole’s work and passion for the organization’s mission during her tenure at Book Arts, beginning as a board member, joining the staff by accepting the role as Assistant Executive Director in January 2019, and continuing her leadership as Book Arts Executive Director July of 2019.

Immediately at her start, Nicole began advancing Book Arts’ cultural impact by completing the 2019 Harvard Business School Alumni Club’s Not-For-Profit Management Program and initiating her team’s participation in StoryGrowing WNY, presented by the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and The John R. Oishei Foundation. Those opportunities served as a catalyst for Cooke’s first big project: overseeing a substantial rebrand of the organization including a new logo, a robust and highly functional website (which won a Gold Addy from the American Advertising Federation in 2020), and comprehensive public relations strategy. Although 2020 came with its challenges, Nicole led Book Arts through the dark and into triumph, securing $38,800 in relief funds from various grantmakers and SBA loan programs, protecting staff jobs by leading a transition into virtual and online revenue streams, and increasing individual giving by more than 60%, all while overseeing and completing a major capital improvement project as part of a facilities improvement grant from the NYS Dormitory Authority, began by her predecessor in late 2017.

Honored as Rising Star in the 2020 SPARK Awards by Arts Services Inc., Nicole continues to build her impact on the WNY arts community & nonprofit sector, seeking professional development and mentorship. She began working with Karen Spaulding of the John R. Oishei Foundation on Executive Coaching and long-range planning for Book Arts, received a scholarship for and then completed Linda Ray’s Fund Development Bootcamp, continued to serve on the board of the WNY Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals helping to strengthen its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility committee, advocated as a member of the Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance for the importance of the arts as an economic driver for the citizens of Erie County, and is currently participating with Book Arts board of directors in the Impact Capacity Assessment Program (iCAP), an 8 month capacity building program awarded by the WNY Foundation.

Nicole will continue to serve through November 13, with a final farewell and toast to all of Book Arts’ accomplishments at Toast to Type, Book Arts’ premier fundraiser! In the meantime, the Board of Directors has begun the process of seeking a new Executive Director to welcome into the fold, with Gail Nicholson serving as Interim Director. Any inquiries are to be directed to [email protected]

Book Arts looks forward to continuing and building on Nicole’s inspiring work as Executive Director; the organization & staff, and the WNY arts community have been extremely lucky to have her. We wish her well, and are sending along a little bit of the book arts magic, as she moves on to her next chapter.