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A Letter from Director, Emily McKown

February 1, 2020


Members, Friends, and Beloved Community,


I am overflowing with gratitude for the stars aligning in guiding me to leadership at Channing-Murray. I’m looking forward to getting to know the staff and all their talents, while finding ways to embolden our current programming and collaborate to create a bright new vision for Channing-Murray’s future.

The variety of my life experiences make this position feel like a fateful opportunity for me. I was born and raised U.U., I studied political economics and social pedagogy at The Evergreen State College, and I am a lifelong musician with a passion to make music for social change. I feel called to serve Champaign-Urbana with Channing-Murray to cultivate profound community that is social justice-oriented, radically inclusive, and  spiritually alive.

I see the task before me as no small feat. I aim to uphold the wonderful legacy of this organization and the many people who have kept it going for so long, in particular, our beloved outgoing Director Claire Szoke. This legacy will bring us the inspiration we need as we pack the house with ever more art and social justice while, as always, bringing together the many walks of life from our community.

Much of my first year at Channing-Murray will be spent capacity building while learning the ropes from the current staff. I will lean on their expertise as we refine existing systems to run more effectively and efficiently. We all have big dreams that I want to lift up with more fundraising and grant-writing. We are drawing the plans to renovate the main floor to have accessible bathrooms; keeping our building and events accessible will be a huge project, and  we’re all excited to live out our inclusive mission. Another top priority is to uphold our value of fair compensation; we would like to be able to pay our staff a living wage, but we are not there yet. Therefore, it is critical that  we are creative in finding ever more revenue streams, grants, and building up our ongoing donor membership.

We will count your contributions in these efforts with great faith- May we together build an ever more inclusive community that is a driving force for arts and activism in Champaign-Urbana.

With gratitude,

Emily McKown

Executive Director

Channing Murray Foundation