Ann Ruble had never seen Casper, Wyoming, when she agreed to move from Louisiana with her husband and two young boys six years ago.
It didn’t take her long for the town to win her over, with the mountain, schools and museums, including the Nicolaysen Art Museum.
It also didn’t take long to volunteer at her sons’ schools. She helped start a campaign to build the new Montessori school in Casper – volunteering to do the kind of work she’d spent a more than 20-year career in community, public and government relations.
Next she landed a job doing the kind of work she loves, as director of regional philanthropy for the Wyoming Community Foundation.
Last month the Nicolaysen Art Museum hired her as its consulting director. The museum announced the move following the resignation of Mary Koernig, who’d been executive director since 2015.
Ruble brings 27 years of experience in public, government, community and media relations.
She’s happy to lend her expertise from all areas the spectrum, from advising non-profits to consulting with donors.
“Now the shoe is on the other foot for me. I have to really practice what I’ve always preached to the nonprofits who came to me looking for financial or personnel or board support or whatever it was,” Ruble said. “It’s exciting.”
Ruble’s first life was in politics, managing political campaigns after college at Kent State. She decided she didn’t want to look for a job every time after the elections, so she started working for a petrochemical company and segued into public relations.
She’s worked in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, banking, petrochemical, gaming and energy, and gained vast experience with non-profit, for-profit and governmental agencies as in-house counsel and contractor, according to her resume.
Ruble in her previous job dealt with nonprofits around the region, including The Nicolaysen Art Museum.
Ruble advised on the Nic’s endowment, lead strategic planning sessions and served as a mediator when needed, Nicolaysen board president Michelle Bummer said. But her dedication to the Nic went well beyond her job description with a dedication to arts in the community, she added.
“With this personal investment in what the Nic has been striving for over the years, she has watched ... perhaps winced at times ... as we have gone through our struggles,” Bummer said in an email. “Given her years of experience with nonprofit organizations, marketing events, internal communications, and strategic planning she was aware of the growing need for someone to come in and help us re-imagine and strengthen our organization. It is the Nicolaysen’s great fortune that she is willing to share her expertise with us to help us get back on both feet, with a strong strategic plan, vision for the future and effective framework in place before we look into hiring a new executive director.”
Ruble said the Nic turns 50 this year, and so does she.
Her plans for the museum include helping the board with its goal make sure the Nic is here in another 50 years. That means building the endowment to ensure it is not relying only on local and state money.
She also plans to help the board with its goal to ensure exhibits are engaging and relevant. She and the board members have talked about building up to host blockbusters – perhaps a show featuring Jackson Pollock, one of Ruble’s favorites and an artist with Wyoming roots.
She’ll also help ensure that programs such as Nic Fest and the Wednesday Night Live outdoor concerts are quality offerings, as well as making sure the Discovery Center has the resources to continue and grow, she said.
Her two boys, 9 and 10, both enjoy the Discovery Center. She and her husband, Jim, are also art enthusiasts. Their anniversary tradition is to give each other a work of art, which they’ve done through the Nic’s fundraising gala sale.
Matisse is Ruble’s favorite artist, and the Nic even has a few Matisse works, along with Picasso, Dali and other notable pieces on the collection.
She’s excited to work for a part of the community that’s helped make Casper home for her, she said.
“This is one of the anchors for me,” she said. “It’s like, if they can sustain a great art museum, it must be a pretty great community. So then I never had a hesitation about moving, and I’ve never looked back.”