Retirement won’t last long for Cynthia Hellen.

The Arts!Longview board of directors announced Thursday that it has hired Hellen as its first-ever executive director of the city’s new Cultural Arts District.

Hellen will take over Jan. 2 — two days after she retires as senior director of the LeTourneau University S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center.

“She’s going to propel us forward,” board chairwoman Nancy Murray said. “We have a five-year plan, and I think she’s going to take care of it in a much shorter period of time.”

Hellen comes to Arts!Longview as no stranger to the movement, having served an integral part on the task force that won the cultural arts district designation earlier this year.

Task force members worked more than a year to apply to the Texas Commission on the Arts, which approved the designation on Sept. 5 and proclaimed it Oct. 10. The mission of the Arts!Longview Cultural District is to spark a love of the arts, history and culture to celebrate and enhance Longview’s creative community.

“So many people worked together to develop the plan for the cultural district,” Hellen said in a prepared statement. “I am honored to continue my involvement in this exciting project and ready to get started making the plan a reality for Longview.”

Murray said Hellen is exactly what Longview needed for the executive director position.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Cynthia Hellen on board as our inaugural executive director with her years of experience as an executive director, with her leadership (and) with her grant writing experience,” Murray said. “She is uniquely qualified to lead the arts organizations in Longview.”

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.