Hubbard Hall Center for the Arts and Education in Cambridge, NY, is thrilled to announce the establishment of the Karen Strand Endowment.  In summer of 2020, longtime Hubbard Hall supporter and advisor Curt Strand passed away, leaving approximately $850,000 to Hubbard Hall in his will, in honor of his late daughter and Hubbard Hall volunteer Karen Strand. Part of this bequest has allowed Hubbard Hall to retire the majority of its debt, and replace its aging HVAC system and will provide funding to help restore and renovate the Lovejoy building into artist housing. The majority of the money will be held in a restricted investment fund, with the annual investment earnings supporting scholarships and fellowships at Hubbard Hall, in the name of Karen Strand, who died in 2006. The fund will not support Hubbard Hall’s general operating, staff, or programming expenses.

Leaving Hubbard Hall in your will is a wonderful way to support our work. We are actively hoping others might follow Curt’s example and remember us in their estate planning. Please email with any questions on how to do so. Click here to learn more.

“The Karen Strand Endowment will help students in need access all of our classes,” says Hubbard Hall past Executive & Artistic Director David Snider. “It will also allow us to continue to support world-class fellowships here on campus for students and recent graduates. We are so grateful to Curt for his amazing gift and to Karen for loving Hubbard Hall so much. While we still greatly need the support of our donors and funders to do what we do, this new fund gives us some much needed financial stability going forward.”

“The Board of Directors is incredibly appreciative of Curt for this bequest that was established in the true spirit of Hubbard Hall, and allows us to continue to be a Center for Arts Education for everyone in our community.  The timing of this gift was especially fortuitous, coming after such a difficult year,” noted Hubbard Hall Board Chair, Margaret Surowka. “With the Karen Strand Endowment, generations will be able to participate that otherwise could not.”

 About Karen and Curt Strand at Hubbard Hall

Karen Strand became involved at Hubbard Hall in the late 90’s, first as a volunteer in the Hall’s Village Store. She eventually joined the staff and became the manager of the Village Store. Karen loved the Hall, as a welcoming place where she always felt accepted and valued. Hubbard Hall was – and is – a place dedicated to gathering people from all walks of life to create, learn, and grow together. Having Karen involved in the store was a great value to the Hall. She soon also volunteered to assist with theater productions at the Hall, often gathering and managing props in collaboration with then artistic director Kevin McGuire. While Karen worked in the store and on theater shows, her father Curt supported the Hall with donations, but also with invaluable business and fundraising advice to then executive director Benjie White. Benjie has said that he often felt Curt’s advice was even more valuable than his financial assistance, as Curt offered brilliant insights into when and how the Hall should weather budget shortfalls and fundraise at just the right moment for major projects. Mr. Strand also supported the installation of an elevator to Hubbard Hall in 2000, helping to finally make the Hall fully ADA accessible for all.

About Curt Strand

November 13, 1920 – July 11, 2020 Curt Strand, retired chairman and CEO of Hilton International, passed away peacefully in his home July 11, 2020. Mr. Strand was one of the most successful and influential CEO’s in lodging in modern history. He was a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, class of 1943. Mr. Strand served in the United States Army Military Intelligence from 1943-1946 during World War II. In 1947 he was named Superintendent of Service for New York’s famed Plaza Hotel. In 1953 he served as Hilton International’s Vice President of Planning. From 1958-1960 he was the General Manager of the Berlin Hilton, and he eventually became President and Chairman of Hilton International, and Director of Trans World Airlines. Under Mr. Strand’s leadership, Hilton International grew from one hotel in 1949, to encompass more than 100 hotels in 60countries with 35,000 employees, at his retirement in 1987. Subsequently, Mr. Strand became a senior consultant for American Express, SAS Hotels, Tishman-Speyer, Pierre Hotel and Sherry Netherlands Hotel in New York City. He lectured at Cornell University, Cornell Essec (France), New York University, Y.P.O. and University of Houston. Some of the most important practices in the structuring of brand management for hotels were created by Mr. Strand. In a January 25, 1981 interview with The New York Times, he explained that Hilton International was essentially in the business of hotel management. He stated, “We are no longer basically a real estate company, but we control the standard of operation. We not only manage them but design the hotels carrying our name”. In the New York Times interview, Mr. Strand, then age 60, revealed that he logged 300,000 miles a year, flying around the world to open new hotels, oversee construction and operations, and look into new opportunities. He shared, “I get off the plane with no jet lag, my stomach eager to enjoy all the varieties of food, and my mind eager to experience the local culture. I don’t know what jet lag feels like. I only need four or five hours of sleep. I knew I wanted a hotel career since I was 12 years old.”

Mr. Strand was born November 13, 1920 in Vienna, Austria. He moved to the United States when he was 17. At age 25, Mr. Strand met 17-year-old Fleur Lillian Emanuel at a dinner, and the two were engaged three weeks later. He remarked that she was the most intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated young woman he had ever met, and he knew he needed to move quickly, as Fleur was in New York only briefly en route from South Africa to Edinburgh to enter medical school. The two were married June 14, 1946 in New York. His wife went on to become a physiologist and pioneer of the “neuropeptide” concept, and held the title of Caroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Biology and Professor of Neural Science at New York University, and President of The New York Academy of Science. They were happily married for 65 years until Mrs. Strand died in 2011. They had one daughter, Karen, who died in 2006. Curt is survived by his brother-in-law, Frank Emanuel, and his two nieces, Gigi and Nicole. He will be remembered, honored, appreciated and missed by countless friends throughout the world. Read an interview with Curt Strand from 2019.


About Hubbard Hall

Hubbard Hall is a thriving arts center dedicated to cultivating, sustaining and promoting the cultural life of our rural community. Hubbard Hall gathers people from all walks of life to create, learn, and grow together, while developing, producing, and presenting world-class art and artists. We do this in order to enrich people’s lives – and the life of our community. We are an arts incubator, a training ground for artists of all ages and backgrounds, a magnet for artistic activity, a safe haven for risk-taking, an economic driver for our region, and the beating heart of our community. We are dedicated to cultivating, sustaining, and promoting the cultural life of our rural community. We are also committed to restoring and preserving Hubbard Hall and all of the buildings on our campus as community cultural assets.

Since 1878 Hubbard Hall has developed, produced, and presented theater, music, opera, dance, and the visual arts and in recent years has become a world-class development center for new work. Since 1977, Hubbard Hall’s current nonprofit has engaged thousands of artists, students, and audience members. As a training ground for both young and seasoned artists, Hubbard Hall continues to develop a new generation of artists and audiences while providing opportunities for individuals to take new risks and stretch beyond their comfort zone. Through classes in dance, theater, music, movement, visual arts, puppetry, creative writing, martial arts, yoga, and even gardening, Hubbard Hall gives students of all ages an opportunity to train, collaborate, and thrive.