March 22, 2018
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Sarah Elder Steps Into Role Of Executive Director At SPCC

Dylan Roche
View Bio
March 6, 2018

If you’ve stopped by the Severna Park Community Center lately, you might have noticed a new face around the office — Sarah Elder recently joined the team as the center’s new executive director, bringing 25 years of leadership experience and a positive attitude to a place that she described as being a little bit different every day.

“The motion of this place, the rhythm of this place is so much fun,” she said of the center. “One thing that really attracted me was the opportunity to be front and center, out there interacting with people. This is the heart of the community and you see that when you walk through here. There are little children going to ballet lessons or swim lessons. There are senior citizens going to their Masters practice or swimnastics. They’re here from early morning until late into the evening. There’s an energy here that’s amazing.”

Most recently, Elder worked for the Chesapeake Conservancy, but her career has also included positions with American Urological Association Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Historic Annapolis Foundation and the National Aquarium. She brings experience in budgeting, strategic planning, staffing, operations, fundraising, marketing, retail, tourism and communications, all of which she foresees as being relevant in her new role at SPCC.

In fact, these experiences are what made Elder stand out to the center’s board of directors, according to Chairman David Orso. “We completed an extensive search and Sarah Elder stood out to our board as the perfect combination of professional experiences and enthusiasm for our mission,” he said. “The role of executive director has many facets, so it is incredibly unique to find a candidate with fundraising experience coupled with high-level operations and finance management background.”

Elder’s immediate goal at SPCC is just to get a grasp on the people and places she will oversee in her new role. Describing her first three weeks as similar to “drinking from the fire hose,” Elder has taken in as much as she can, but she admits there is still much to learn. “This is a complex property; there’s a lot going on,” she said. “My short-term goal is to make sense of the whole thing and figure out what’s needed, and figure out how to make those changes happen.”

In the long term, she plans to further SPCC’s identity as the heart of the community. “What can we improve on to make it a better experience for people coming to the center?” she asked.

The board expects that Elder will indeed be the woman to handle the challenge of furthering SPCC’s mission. “The community center is built on a foundation of caring leaders and I think Sarah Elder will leave a legacy and lead us into the next chapter of serving this great community,” Orso said.

As Elder gets acclimated, she has been eager to be introduced to all the people through Severna Park whom she will be regularly interacting with — but it has been a challenge with so much to learn in her daily routine. Until that time, she invites people to shoot her an email at or to drop by the center in person to see all the activities and opportunities available. “I’m excited to be here and looking forward to meeting the community,” she said. “The problem with drinking from the fire hose in my first three weeks is I haven’t gotten out of this office as much as I’d like to!”

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