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Getting to Know ... Leigh Donlan

Leigh Donlan has been executive director of the Athenaeum since Dec. 5. A native of Long Beach, Calif., Donlan has lived in Alexandria since 2003.

What's new at the Athenaeum?

We are negotiating with the Washington Ballet and are very pleased with this venture. There will be at least two seasonal productions, the ballet school program will be extended, and we will be including a special needs ballet program for children with cerebral palsy. The gallery will be growing too.

How will the new program differ from the previous one?

We are looking to host more group exhibits, cultural exhibits. The metro area is rich with cultural diversity, and we are looking forward to celebrating the different communities. Also, our lecture series will begin next fall. This will provide the community an intellectual outlet, the opportunity to explore and exchange ideas, discuss local and regional issues and the chance to get to know each other. The Athenaeum building will serve as a cultural hub, and we are all excited about these prospects.

How many years have you lived in the community?

Almost four years.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from the University of Oregon and studied public relations and professional writing at Georgetown University when I moved here.

What are your achievements?

I value all the work I’ve been able to do, but working with children has been especially important. We can really make a difference through children.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I always have my own personal art projects going. I’m wrestling with a large-scale sculpture endeavor right now. I also ride horses, read and dance. And I try to be of service whenever I can.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

100 King Restaurant is very good, and there are many others that I've been meaning to try.

What is your favorite place in the community?

The waterfront. And on the water, especially in the summer.

What concerns do you have about the community?

More designated open space and affordable housing.

What brought you here?

I moved here from Los Angeles to join family. I wanted to focus on professional development and started my studies at Georgetown.

What are the community's hidden treasures?

The people I’ve discovered. This community is very eclectic, and there are some truly amazing and inspiring individuals here.

What are your personal goals?

Many. So I just take one step at a time, and I seem to be accomplishing them this way.