New faces grace convention center
The Fairfield Arts & Convention Center has welcomed two new employees in the past couple of months.
The convention center hired Cindy Woodbury to be its development director in November. The development director focuses on raising money for the center. Earlier this month, Amanda Bartos became the convention center’s operations manager, a position responsible for managing day-to-day activities.
Executive director of the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Rustin Lippincott, said Woodbury is the first full-time development director. Prior development directors had been part-time employees.
“The board of directors recognized the need to have someone who could dedicate their full attention to cultivating relationships,” he said. “The convention center requires $250,000 to $300,000 a year in donations, grants and sponsorships. That type of need requires a full-time effort.”
Woodbury and Bartos are very familiar with southeast Iowa since both of them grew up in Ottumwa. Bartos has lived in Fairfield for the past year while Woodbury maintains a home in Ottumwa and commutes.
After graduating from high school, Woodbury left Iowa and pursued a variety of occupations not just throughout the country but around the world. She was a documentary photographer for 14 years which included stops in London and West Germany.
She took photographers for any business that needed them. Among her clients were the London-based department store Harrods and Formula 1 race teams.
Woodbury also found several jobs in Michigan, where she was the director of the Detroit Symphony, the event planner for Ford Motor Company and she also did development work for the University of Michigan.
Prior to her hiring at the convention center, Woodbury was the Ottumwa Main Street director. She moved back to Ottumwa to be closer to her parents.
She said the only downside to getting the job in Fairfield is that she has to leave her dog at home.
“I have a dog that was rescued in New Orleans during Katrina,” she said. “She used to go to work with me everyday, so she was not very happy when I came here. I get ready to leave in the morning and she goes, ‘Hey! This isn’t how this is supposed to work. I’m supposed to come with you!’”
Woodbury said she has enjoyed her first four months on the job.
“I love the staff here,” she said. “Folks in Fairfield have been so warm and welcoming. You don’t always get that when you move in from the outside.”
Bartos said she, too, sought a return to her stomping grounds after venturing into other parts of the state after high school. Bartos attended Iowa State University where she studied hotel and restaurant management.
After college, Bartos worked for the hotel chain Marriott for more than five years, first in Des Moines and then in Coralville.
“When I was reading this job description, I really felt a calling to come here,” she said. “I felt it was bringing me back to my roots in the hospitality industry.”
Bartos said the convention center was not here when she grew up in Ottumwa, but she has always been drawn to Fairfield because of its rich culture.
“The town has so many draws, from the diversity of the people to the food they enjoy, and it’s tucked away here in the southeast corner of Iowa,” she said.
The transition to life in Fairfield was not difficult for Bartos.
She already had friends here and her father works as a construction engineer for the Department of Transportation in town.
Lippincott said he is relieved to have such competent employees join his staff.
“It’s exciting to have someone of Cindy’s caliber, not only to create the strategy but also to implement the tactics,” Lippincott said. “Amanda’s experience in the hospitality industry made her rise to top of the applicants, and we had a lot of well qualified people apply for both of these positions from across the country.”