Longtime Space Needle executive Mary Bacarella has been named SIFF managing director, effective Feb. 1.  Bacarella succeeds Deborah Person, who has served as SIFF’s managing director since 2005. 

Bacarella comes to SIFF after 14 years at the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, where she served as the vice president of brand management. Over the last three years, she was also a key member of the team that spearheaded the plan to develop Chihuly Garden and Glass, the new Dale Chihuly exhibition that opened at the Seattle Center last May. 

During her tenure at the Space Needle, Bacarella also helped with the $24 million remodel of the Space Needle and secured the patent for the creation of the interactive entertainment system called “SkyQ” that is located on the Space Needle observation deck.

Prior to the Space Needle, Bacarella worked in public relations, handling accounts such as Nintendo, Radio Disney and Wolfgang Puck.

Bacarella currently serves on the board of Mary’s Place, a women’s homeless shelter in Seattle, and was a member for four years on the Seattle Central Community College Foundation Board. Additional nonprofit work includes Gilda’s Club and Unexpected Productions.

Person has been involved with the Seattle International Film Festival for more than 32 years, having started with the organization as a volunteer. From there, she became a festival staff member, joined the SIFF board of directors in 1999 and served as board president for four years. 

Person will remain on staff through the end of this year’s festival to ensure a seamless transition of leadership.