Camp Jabberwocky, the Vineyard Haven residential camp for people with disabilities, announced that it has hired a new executive director — the second in its 70-year history.

Adam Perry of Minneapolis, Minn. was picked from a field of about 100 candidates for the position formerly held by Liza Gallagher, the camp said in a statement.

Mr. Perry, who most recently served as the vice president of strategy and programs at Arts Midwest in Minnesota, is also a person with a disability, giving him a “profound personal connection with the long-standing mission of Camp Jabberwocky,” the organization said in its statement.

Mr. Perry, 51, was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative and untreatable genetic eye disorder.

“We had an overwhelming response to our posting of the executive director position, and conducted an extensive, thorough process that brought us a terrific group of candidates,” said Thomas Rosenbloom, who led the camp’s search committee. “Ultimately, Mr. Perry’s personal connection to the Camp’s mission, his interpersonal effectiveness, his track record of innovation in the nonprofit world, and his belief in the creation and distribution of ‘joy equity’ made him a fabulous choice.”

Mr. Perry's most recently served as the vice president of strategy and programs at Arts Midwest in Minnesota. — Courtesy Camp Jabberwocky

After 25 years in the world of arts nonprofits and a lifetime in the Midwest, Mr. Perry said he was ready for a change when he learned about the vacancy.

“At this point in my life, I wanted the next [job] to be something that landed in my soul,” he said.

With a master’s degree in theatre from the Ohio State University following a double major in theatre and political science at Wittgenberg University, Mr. Perry spent much of his education and early career on stage.

“My original intention was to get a PhD and teach theatre at insert-college-here in the U.S.,” he said.
But with time, the allure of academic theatre faded.

“I wanted to get out in the world... and so I did,” said Mr. Perry. He went on to work in Hollywood film production, Broadway theatrical touring, and even worked for entertainment monolith Clear Channel/Live Nation.

But the business world wasn’t for him.

“The for-profit side of things... wasn’t where my heart is,” he said.

Moving to Arts Midwest, Mr. Perry traveled the world for cultural exchange projects such as shadow puppetry in Malaysia and an international reading program in Egypt. His work has taken him to six continents and across the U.S. from Anchorage, Ak. to Gainesville, Fla.

But he had never visited the Vineyard, or even given it much thought, until he spotted the camp’s ad while browsing the Chronicle of Philanthropy website.

“The word Jabberwocky jumped out at me, [and] as soon as I read the description I thought... this place can’t be real,” he said.

Turning to the internet, Mr. Perry quickly confirmed the camp’s existence.

“From that point on, it’s been nothing but falling in love,” he said. “The vibe is magnetic, and it just drew me there.”

On his first visit to the Vineyard earlier this month, Mr. Perry discovered how popular the camp is among everyday Islanders as he chatted with friendly strangers.

“Here I am, a dude with a mobility cane [and] people asked what I was here for,” said Mr. Perry. “As soon as I said the words Camp Jabberwocky, everyone I talked to lit up like a candle.”

His hiring comes on the heels of multiple personnel changes at Camp Jabberwocky.

Ms. Gallagher stepped down from her post in December after more than a decade as director. She was the camp’s first paid employee when she was hired about 11 years ago. Her resignation came after the departure of two longtime session directors and a number of other volunteers who were abruptly terminated in March, 2022.

While Mr. Perry is planning to return to the Island for good June 1, he is already working the phones and email from Minneapolis as he gets to know the camp’s directors and longtime volunteers in advance of this year’s camp season, which begins in July.

“I want everybody to know I know how much this place is beloved and I want to keep it and only grow that love,” he said. “I’m very serious about doing the best I can to make everybody feel great about it all the time.”

Ethan Genter contributed to this story.