Submitted by the Laguna Art Museum:
Laguna Art Museum hosted its annual Open House and Volunteer Recognition Reception on Tuesday, September 10. Over 200 people attended the event, which included a presentation by Executive Director Malcolm Warner and Deputy Director Ed Fosmire reviewing the past year and announcing plans for 2013-14; the introduction of the Board of Trustees, including the newest trustees, Edward Bayuk and Marnie Wall; and the recognition of longtime members and outstanding volunteers. Dr. Warner announced volunteer Store Manager Michele Monda as Laguna Art Museum’s 2013 Volunteer of the Year.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: MICHELE MONDA
In 2012, Laguna Beach resident and longtime supporter of Laguna Art Museum Michele Monda came on board to help revamp the museum store. Monda’s goal for the new store was to sell affordable, portable, and local giftware that reflected the nature of Laguna Beach, a community celebrated for its art and artists. The store offerings now include branded museum merchandise, some custom-designed by artists; art and design items from local artists, selected with an emphasis on unusual and one-of-a-kind pieces not to be found in other stores; museum publications; publications and merchandise related to current exhibitions; and books on California art generally. The goal is for the store to be a year-round destination for local people in search of unusual gifts as well as a source for out-of-town visitors who wish to take away a memento of their experience at Laguna Art Museum.
“Not long after I joined the museum, Michele and I were talking about the museum store,” said Malcolm Warner. “Frankly, it was looking a little tired at the time. When she said ‘I’d love to get my hands on that store,’ it was a fateful moment. The next thing she knew, she was the volunteer store manager. Since then, following her watchwords of ‘affordable, portable, and local,’ she has revitalized the place. The museum store is an important part of our visitors’ experience and now we have one to be proud of.”
Since Monda took over the museum store, net profits have increased by 52%.
“This is without a doubt the best job I've ever had,” said Monda. “I love coming to work where everyone says, ‘How can I help and how can we make it happen?’ The success of the store is truly a team effort—we have the best staff and volunteers and the most wonderfully generous local artists. They are the true stars of the store and our success is because of their love of the Laguna Art Museum and their desire to contribute to its future. This is more than a job—it's a passion!”
Monda was born in Indonesia and raised in Europe, visiting every museum her parents could drag her through (as she says). She attended Brandeis University, spent a year and a half studying in Paris, and did an internship with the store Au Printemps. After a year working for La Banque Française in New York, she attended Wharton Business School, earning an MBA in marketing. After a year as assistant buyer for Abraham and Straus in New York, she moved to Los Angeles and worked in advertising, both on the client side and on the agency side. While raising three boys with her husband Emil (who is the new treasurer of the museum’s Board of Trustees), she has been involved with many volunteer and fundraising functions, and is a co- chair of the museum’s annual Art Auction.