Ten Minutes with Janice Hess
Weir Farm’s executive director
Photo by Peggy Garbus
Janice Hess majored in English education at Ohio University and then directed New Product Research projects for BASES/Nielsen, where she met her husband Mike, a media expert. Over time the couple lived in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Danville, California. When Mike accepted a job on Madison Avenue in 2004, the Hess family—which by then included children Anton, Teddy, and Maddie—moved to Wilton. Janice has served as the executive director of Weir Farm Art Center since 2011.
How did the Weir Farm Art Center come on to your radar? In 2005 I attended a luncheon. The hostess mentioned that she and others were raising funds to help the Weir Farm Trust, as it was called back then, to preserve and protect the Weir Farm National Historic Site. I joined the committee for a fundraiser to be held in June 2006. The funds we raised, in conjunction with a federal Save America’s Treasures grant, made possible the restoration of the building which now houses our artist studio.
How did you morph from volunteer to executive director? I’m still a volunteer! As time went on, I became more deeply involved with the operations and fundraising for the Weir Farm Art Center. In 2009 we transitioned to an all-volunteer organization. In 2010 I took over the administration of the artist-in-residence program and then joined the board of trustees. I became Executive director in 2011.
Greatest challenge of your job? Gaining visibility in the community. Our resident artists come from far and wide, are incredibly talented, and have a lot to offer.
Greatest pleasure of your job? Working with the artists. It’s fascinating to meet people with such diverse talents and personalities.
If there were a 25th hour in the day I’d be… Reading Mindy Kaling’s latest book, Why Not Me? A tropical breeze would be blowing …
Worst job ever? Working on a paper box factory assembly line with my college roommate. Too slow and too many paper cuts. We didn’t last long.
What scares you? Ferris wheels. Give me a roller coaster any day.
What don’t you eat? Sushi. I know. Not cool. Sorry.
Any other volunteer positions? I’ve just finished terms on the Wilton Library Association board of trustees and the Parent Advisory Board for Special Services for Wilton Schools. Recently, I joined the spring benefit committee for the Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County.
Favorite Wilton haunt? The gardens at Weir Farm National Historic Site.
Best advice anyone ever gave you? Be open to new things. Look for connections. You never know what might happen.
Name three things that are never far from your reach? Phone, reading glasses, lip balm.
What’s your personal motto? Time is the great equalizer.