Tess Moore helps keep the doors of the Huntington Museum of Art open

Development Officer, Marshall University Graduate and Huntington native, Tess Moore, helps to keep the doors of the Huntington Museum of Art open by working to raise more than $1,000,000 since she started working there in 2012.

The HMA is a nonprofit organization that has been around for more than 6 decades. Located at the top of McCoy Road, the Museum is funded solely on donations and through their supporters. The Museum’s Open Door Membership Campaign exceeded their 1st quarter goal of $35,000 on Sept. 29, a day early when the quarter ended. Moore is responsible for raising a large portion of funds that literally helps keep the Museum doors open.

“The Open Door Membership Campaign is a yearlong membership drive I work on with a committee of Board Members and Members of the Community who helped raise $330,000 for the year,” Moore said. “Since I have been there, the committee and I have not only secured, but exceeded each membership goal which has been a huge accomplishment for the Museum because it had been a few years since the goals were met.”

“Few individuals bring more genuine enthusiasm for the Museum and its work than Tess, she is a wonderful asset to have in our Development Department,” said Huntington Museum of Art’s Executive Director, Geoffrey Fleming.

Moore found her niche in public relations and the art community in an interesting way. Moore said she started out as “a bit of a Nomad.”

“I was accepted to the University of Tennessee, went down for orientation and ended up coming home with my best friend and we both started our freshman year at Marshall instead,“ Moore said. “After a year, I transferred to Wilmington, North Carolina with a love for animals and the beach thinking I would become a Marine Biologist and swim with the dolphins – well so I thought. I quickly found out I had a fear of the ocean when I learned about everything in it and wasn’t exactly a science and math driven student. So in 2006, I transferred back to Marshall University to pursue a degree in Journalism, specifically public relations and minor in Graphic Design because neither were offered at UNCW. When I returned, I fell in love with school and knew I had made, as Marshall Universities new motto says, the ‘Best. Decision. Ever.’ and threw myself into it. I was in most journalism school clubs/organizations, Life Editor for the Parthenon, Week of Welcome logo design contest winner and I organized fundraisers. Whatever I could do I took advantage of it and enjoyed it. It paid off too, I walked away with a few awards such as Reporter of the Year and Best Graphic Design and Layout in a PR Campaign.”

Moore’s skills from Marshall University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications guided her in the PR profession and provided her with the knowledge to succeed, but Moore said her internship with the College of Fine Arts really helped her decide what she wanted to do.

“For 2 years, if not more, I interned with the Special Events Coordinator at the time, Jaye Toler, when the College of Fine Arts was its own school,” Moore said. “I loved being around all the creativity between the art, music and theater I was surrounded by all this talent and enjoyed going out on assignments. First I was writing press releases about new classes, events, star students and faculty, taking the pictures for the stories and designing pages with my work for the seasonal newsletter, Creation, the College of Fine Arts sent out at the time. I also recognized I would be able to utilize my graphic design and photography skills I was leaning and enjoying. What really won me over were the events.”

“I loved the gallery openings, helping get everything set up and then socializing once the event began. So, I knew I wanted to put my PR skills to use in that way, promoting the arts in some way, shape or form,” Moore said. “It took me a year, but I am forever grateful for that year of job searching, because I was lucky enough to land my dream and before I knew it, I was really making a difference in the arts and in the Tri-State Community, making my dream come alive. “

“Tess did not take the conventional path to a college degree,” said former professor emeritus at Marshall’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, George T. Arnold, Ph.D. “She took about twice the normal time, but along the way she discovered intelligence and talent she previously was unaware she possessed. She entered college with doubts about her abilities and after years of admirably hard work and sacrifice both in and out of school, Tess graduated confident, sophisticated and well prepared by her academic and professional experiences.”

With her job and 2 dogs, Lilly and Cato, Moore keeps busy, but said she still loves her job at HMA.

“What I love the most about my job is seeing it all come together and everyone having a blast at the event,” Moore said. “Many people think event planning is a glamorous job, but you do a lot of running, have to do lots of problem solving, work long hours and weekends and you work hard. But it’s worth all the blood, sweat and tears when you see it all come together and see everyone having a blast.”

“But what I really love is when I get to see the children coming in from all over the Tri-State for tours. The wonder and amazement in their eyes fills my heart with joy, because I know my hard work plays a role in them being able to come up and get exposure and excited about arts and culture,” Moore said. “So when I get stressed, I remind myself why I am doing this. It’s not for myself, it’s for the community, to offer them an amazing cultural center to visit and for the children to keep the arts alive for generations to come.”

The museum has several events a month and every 4th Tuesday, there is a tour from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a reception following.

All events have a full reception and are free to the public.

Desmond Groves can be contacted at [email protected].