Member Interviews

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Julie Fei-Fan Balzer headshot

People are often curious about my middle name, Fei-Fan. My Mother is Chinese and gave both my brother and me Chinese middle names. Fei-Fan means “out of the ordinary.”

I grew up in the Boston area, headed to Brown for college, and then off to New York City to seek my fame and fortune in the theater as a director. During my sixteen years in New York, my interest in the theater became subsumed by my passion for making things. Combining my interest in art with my entrepreneurial spirit, I built my company, Balzer Designs. Much like a diversified stock portfolio, my business is made up of multiple activities: I make and sell art; host two TV shows on PBS (Scrapbook Soup, and Make It Artsy, which will debut on the PBS Create Network at the end of 2016); design products for the craft industry; teach online and in person all over the world; design projects and write tutorials for magazines and books, including my own book, Carve Stamp Play; demonstrate and sell craft products on HSN and at conventions; consult to the craft industry, vlog, podcast (Adventures in Arting Podcast, available on iTunes), and blog five days a week. One of my goals for 2017 is to seek and secure gallery representation to sell and exhibit the paintings and mixed-media artwork that is my passion.

I moved back to the Boston area a year ago and joined the Museum Council almost immediately. The Museum Council offered me both access to art and curators, and a social outlet to meet like-minded people. During my time in New York, I was a regular at the Museum of Modern Art and explored many levels of membership and involvement. I have been surprised and delighted by how much more access to curators and varieties of social events the MFA Museum Council has offered.

Have there been specific events that you have particularly enjoyed?

The Summer Party was great fun—who doesn’t like dressing up and dancing!? But my favorite event from last year was the curatorial tour of two installations at the Greenway with one curator from the MFA and one curator from the Greenway. Both men had worked with Ai Weiwei and had wildly different experiences. It was fascinating to hear the double perspectives along with learning the secrets behind the outdoor installations.


Olivia Pennock

Olivia Pennock

I’ve lived in Boston for 16 years. After graduating from Amherst College, I moved out west and spent five years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where I worked in public relations for Steamboat Ski and Resort. My move back east also spurred a move to nonprofit fundraising and I am now a director of Foundation Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital. Outside of work, my passions are the outdoors and music.

I’m really excited to have just joined the Museum Council. My friend Robin Kelly is a long-time Council member so I had attended a number of events with her that I really enjoyed. Coincidentally, when I first met my cousin Allie Powell’s new girlfriend (now wife), Hadley Powell, one of the first things she said to me was, “Haven’t I seen you at an MFA Museum Council event?” Hadley’s involvement on the Steering Committee was the tipping point for me!

I’m impressed with how much the Council has grown since the first events I attended as a guest back in 2011. That speaks volumes to the vibrant community of young arts supporters in Boston. Before I joined Boston Children’s Hospital, I spent eight years at From the Top, best known as the producer of the NPR radio show From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley, so the importance of supporting the performing arts and visual arts is close to my heart.

Have there been specific events that you have particularly enjoyed?

I have loved the Museum scavenger hunts. What a fun way to explore and get to know the MFA—and I’m proud to have been part of the first place team in 2013!

I’m definitely looking forward to running around the Museum again this year.