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Art & Museums

SAMA museum system announces first female director

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018, 1:27 p.m.
Vanessa Houser of Loretto is the new director for the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.
Vanessa Houser of Loretto is the new director for the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art has announced Vanessa Houser of Loretto as its new director.

Houser began her position as the first female director of SAMA on Aug. 6.

“I am honored to join this highly talented, passionate group of staff and volunteers to ensure the future success and legacy of SAMA,” she said in a release.

Houser has more than 10 years’ experience in fundraising, most recently as the lead on fundraising activities for the Western Region of Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger Health System.

At Geisinger, Houser raised funds for a pediatric emergency medicine program, pediatric transport ambulance and specialized summer camps for patients with chronic illnesses such as pediatric cancer and spina bifida, according to the release.

The nation’s longest running satellite museum system, SAMA operates museums in Altoona, Bedford, Johnstown, Ligonier and Loretto and has served the rural populations of central and southwestern Pennsylvania since 1976.

The museum maintains a permanent collection of nearly 5,000 pieces, with a strong representation of Pennsylvania artists and other nationally acclaimed and influential artists. SAMA also provides arts programming to children in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

SAMA is accredited through the American Association of Museums and has been a partner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts since 1998.

Houser is the fifth director in SAMA’s history, replacing outgoing director Gary Moyer, who announced his retirement earlier in the summer.

A lifelong resident of Cambria County, Houser is a graduate of Bishop Carroll High School in Ebensburg and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She lives in Loretto with her husband John Paul and children Sebastian and Adelaide.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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