Me & My Art Monday: Meet Joann Vaughan

By September 22, 2014 Me & My Art

This week’s featured artist:  Joann Vaughan, MFA Executive Director since 2008:

Maryland Bellydance Conference 2014ME:  I grew up in Oklahoma and attended the University of Virginia where I met my husband Bill. Together we have four children and have lived all over the country, in New Orleans, Carmel CA, Columbus OH.  We moved to Annapolis MD in 1999.

I have worked in the nonprofit arena for more than 30 years, first as a volunteer, then as a paid journalist, in organizational development training, nonprofit event planning and fundraising and now as the Executive Director of the Maryland Federation of Art. I love nonprofit work as it focuses on community stakeholders – the people who benefit from the nonprofit’s work – instead of bottom-line and profits. If we focus our work correctly, then funding will follow.

MY ART:  I can’t draw, sketch, design, or carve and I only paint the walls of my house. I do, however, dance – and have since I was four years old. My childhood dream was to be a June Taylor Dancer (I didn’t know about the Rockettes until I was 10). While the focus of my art has been primarily on ballet, I have taken tap and jazz as well and, at age 50, took up bellydance – a pursuit about which I am passionate.

A dance performance at the 2014 Maryland Bellydance Conference in Baltimore

Unlike ballet, which is highly structured with only a single correct presentation, in bellydance it is assumed that every woman will interpret the dance differently since her life story and her body are unique. The dance is both aerobic and isometric – great exercise – but I simply love to dance, and what other activity lets you dress up in sequins and glitter – and get away with it.

I have performed in Baltimore at the Hon Fest, at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and at other locations in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and Delaware.  I now perform with my second dance troupe, Sestraluna, based out of Severna Park.  We are performing Sunday, October 5 at 2 pm on West Street as part of First Sunday.

MFA & ME:  I came to MFA in July 2008, after starting and running the Annapolis Book Festival for six years. I knew very little about the business of visual arts, but knew a lot about nonprofit management and how to design a working business model to further the organization’s mission, promote its work, help its stakeholders and fund its programs.

At the time, MFA was struggling financially after the closure of the Baltimore gallery, and within one month of my taking charge of MFA, the stock market collapsed. To say that the job was challenging is an understatement, but previous MFA boards had planned carefully and built a large contingency fund which we desperately needed.

I loved both the people and the work. It took two years and a lot of effort and faith on the part of the MFA volunteers, but in 2010 we were close to breaking even and the organization has been in the black – or close to it, ever since. We just finished our 2014 fiscal year with a surplus of $7,000 – money that will be used to put funds back into the contingency fund, ensuring the future of MFA.



Spread the word about…YOU:   Every week, we feature an MFA member for “Me & My Art Monday.” If you would like to be featured, please submit a photo and three paragraphs: one each about YOU, YOUR ART, and MFA & YOU totaling approximately 350 words, to

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  • Hi Roopa:
    As the mother of four and over 50, my body is a lot less than picture perfect – but the dancing is still fun!
    I would love to dance with you sometime!



    • roopadudley says:

      Awesome! “Let’s Dance” – (quoted) from that famous line in Thomas Crown Affair. Thank you for your comment and kind words.

  • roopadudley says:

    Joann — You are simply an amazing lady. Always up beat, positive and totally inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing with us about your life and accomplishments which I confess I was always curious about. How beautiful that you like to dance and that is your passion — that enthusiasm is totally contagious. This means so much to me. As a practicing belly dancer myself, I have abandoned it for the last five years being hard on myself having my baby — now four years old (you know how that goes for us women) for not having the picture perfect shape blah blah blah to continue to dance. Thanks to you, I will once again find the courage to do it again…get my beautiful costumes out and let the music take over ….The Egyptian 8, The Turkish 8, The Shimmies, the Quarter Shimmies….the joy! I have been contemplating lately to start practicing it again and also get back in shape doing something so beautiful — like you mentioned it is aerobic and isometric. Perhaps one day, I will have an honor to team-up and dance with you. How much fun would that be! My husband’s dream come true that is for sure.