2017 Minnie Rubek Staff Excellence Award

Tara Richards
Director of Community Engagement
Brucemore, Inc.

At the heart of Brucemore’s 36 cultural performances, 10 months of tours, and various community events is Tara Richards. From being the central liaison with cultural partner organizations, evaluating each program’s financial and audience performance, running the box office, directing traffic, supervising volunteers, and everything in between, she seeks a positive visitor experience for each one of the over 45,000 people who visit Brucemore each year.

Tara began at Brucemore as an intern from Coe College and earned a full time position the following year. Originally serving as the Marketing and Program Director, she showed great potential and an endless amount of energy. She dove directly into an elaborate web of unique programs and quickly became the expert with a laser focus. She built relationships with nonprofit cultural organizations and corporate businesses as well as contractors, vendors, lighting designers and more, striving to keep the economic impact of events local to Eastern Iowa. Brucemore also is the stomping ground of artists, actors, and musicians who pursue their dreams and explore new directions all over the safety net of strong management and support that Tara provides.

In her current role as Director of Community Engagement, she is not only responsible for all events, tours, and programs but also covers human resources and a tourism-centered retail store. All of these functions have the added challenge of taking place at Brucemore, the setting of seven historic structures, 26 acres, and thousands of artifacts and works of art. The events and programs that Tara and her team execute each year must work within the framework of a private, historic “home,” rather than a purposefully built performance venue. Her great sensitivity to historic preservation is invaluable to making sure this irreplaceable place continues to make an impact on the community for generations to come.

Tara has a never-ending enthusiasm to explore new audiences and partners to expand Brucemore’s impact. During her tenure, the number of visitors to the estate has risen by more than 40% as well as drawn people from across the county and around the world. Constantly behind-the-scenes, she promotes, manages, and serves as a resource, at times seven days a week. She is the driver behind every experience for every visitor to the estate though many may never meet her. The Cedar Rapids community and Eastern Iowa area is stronger through her creative management and dedication to creating unforgettable experiences.