Gene Siskel Film Center’s Jean de St. Aubin gets set for big star-studded fundraising gala June 2

WHO SHE IS: As executive director since 2003, de St. Aubin oversees programming and initiatives of the 35-year-old Gene Siskel Film center of the School of the Art Institute.

Film festivals and other events are sprinkled amid regular weekly screenings. At their annual gala June 2, John Mahoney will lead a discussion with Oscar-nominated William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Later in the month, June 14-17, the center will host Chicago Filmmakers’ 19th Annual Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival.

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB: Although she’s not involved in programming, Jean sees her role as supporting marketing and fundraising that drives the center’s mission of curating film programming. By doing so, she creates what one member recently coined a “sacred, secular space.”

PROS: Being able to work in a unique facility. “According to film critic Roger Ebert, we’re one of five cin?matheques in the world.”

CONS: “Keeping up with constantly changing technology.” With an order on file for a $185,000 Nec Status 2500F projector, though, they’ll be able to project any of the new formats within a few weeks.

KEY TO SUCCESS: “Being resourceful. Knowing who to talk to and not being afraid to ask questions.”

This is her first experience working with a board?something she says boils down to building relationships and working well with people.

BACKSTORY: After earning her B.S. in media studies from UIC, de St. Aubin freelanced as a stylist and art director from 1984-1994.

For the next nine years she planned cultural and environmental programming and ran the “Theater on the Lake” and “Urban Campers” for the Chicago Park District until joining the Film Center.

BIG BREAK: Freelancing as a stylist right after college at now-defunct Freese and Friends, a commercial production company.

WORDS OF WISDOM: “Be a good listener. Think strategically in a way that means slowly. You have to have one clear mission. It keeps you focused.”

Asking herself “is this the best thing for the film center?” is her guide.

HER ULTIMATE GOAL: “To continue presenting the best films and to grow our audience.”

ON THE SIDE: Being in a dark theater atmosphere for work sparks her craving to be outside during her down time. Jean is a runner and gardener. She and her husband of one year enjoy their second home in the Indiana Dunes.

A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: “Seeing the lobby full!” She’s motivated by overhearing people on their way out chatting to strangers next to them about the film they just saw.

Jean de St. Aubin’s phone is 312/846-2600; Email, See