PEPIN -- The Flyway Film Festival’s executive director is taking a new flight path. The organization announced this week that Diana Masters-Penegor will leave at the end of August.

"Flyway has been a huge part of my life for the past 13 years," Masters-Penegor said in a news release. "I'm proud to have been part of the founding and shaping of this wonderful festival."

In June, the Flyway canceled its 2020 festival -- which would have been its 13th -- due to the pandemic. Recently, the nonprofit launched Friday Nights with Flyway as a way to share independent films since people can't gather in the small venues used by the festival. The virtual programming, including some new films and some from past festivals, is available through its website. Some viewings are free.

Like so

Diana Masters-Penegor
Diana Masters-Penegor
many film festivals, the Flyway must reinvent itself in the COVID-19 era. The board members decided not to hold an online festival in October, an idea that was discussed but does not fit the Flyway's mission: One of the most important elements is to bring people together. When the festival can do that again safely, board members and volunteers will pick up where they left off, they said earlier this summer.

“This felt like the right time for fresh eyes and new leadership to continue to propel Flyway forward," Masters-Penegor said of her departure, citing a combination of personal and professional factors.

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She added that she hopes to maintain her connection to the Flyway as the festival moves into its next phase.

With the exception of a brief hiatus in 2016, she has been a part of the Flyway since co-founding it in 2007. She has held nearly every role in the organization, from operations manager to board member to executive director.

“Diana will be greatly missed, both by the board and by the entire Flyway community. Diana's drive, can-do attitude, and extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the organization have been pivotal in the festival's success over the years,” the organization said in announcing her departure.

“As our world continues to grapple with the present reality, marked by the impossibility of predicting when we will be able to gather safely in theaters again, we are taking this time to explore new approaches to further our mission, which is to bring the best in independent film to the Lake Pepin area of Wisconsin and Minnesota for the purposes of cultural enrichment, community-building, arts education, and to inspire the next generation of filmmakers.”

For more information about Flyway, visit www.flywayfilmfestival.org.