California-based educator, therapist and longtime seasonal Vineyard resident Susan Pimentel Andrien is taking up the mantle as executive director of the Chilmark Community Center summer camp.

Ms. Andrien served as interim director last summer after the director, Troy Lawson, had to leave the Island early to return to his full-time job as a teacher in California.

“I got an opportunity to really see the vibrant, very active community, the history, the joy of the non-directed play that happens in the morning,” Ms. Andrien told the Gazette “There’s some opportunities to really enhance the legacy and the magic and the history of why people really love the camp.”

Ms. Andrien’s background has primarily been in the field of education, she said, with a focus on trauma and crisis response. She previously served as the behavioral health program manager for the Oakland Unified School District.

Suellen Lazarus, chair of the Chilmark Town Affairs Council that runs the program, said that Ms. Andrien’s role will also include more support during the offseason.

While continuing her part-time work in Oakland, Calif., Ms. Andrien has already taken on the role of camp director, beginning work to “institute best practices” from her experience in the field of education.

“I want to be really thoughtful about making sure there’s voice and input from the people that are there year-round, as well as the stakeholders of families that have been coming there for generations,” Ms. Andrien said.

She first became involved with the Chilmark summer camp via her work with the Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition, through which she served as a facilitator for the Chilmark Town Affairs Council board. Her mother, Sandra Pimentel, serves as a board member on the coalition and is a year-round Island resident.

The camp has had three previous executive directors and one acting director since 2021, a heavy turnover rate that Ms. Andrien said she wants to address.

“My goal has been to understand...what were the barriers to them being successful and seeing what I could do proactively to create systems and structures that will support me and my role,” she said.

In addition to a series of planned community engagement sessions, Ms. Andrien said she is hoping to form a community advisory committee for the camp, including local youth participation.

“My role is to really spend this year doing the heavy lifting of coalition building and community building,” she said. “My hope is within the next few years we’ll be able to find our rhythm.”