WILLIAMSTOWN -- Longtime Images Cinema Executive Director Sandra Thomas is stepping down after 12 years at the helm.

"It's been very satisfying seeing the community respond to the programming we've done and the changes we've made," she said in an interview Saturday. "The community just seems very energized around the cinema. For me personally I felt it was time to step away and let someone else come in and take it to the next level."

Thomas, a North Adams resident, said she will continue in her position at the Spring Street non-profit until a replacement is found.

She added she will continue consulting with the Williamstown Film Festival and will pursue other interests including local food initiatives in Berkshire County. She serves in the core group of Hoosac Harvest, dedicated to improving access to local food.

A native of Oneonta, N.Y., Thomas worked in different non-profit and art management jobs before relocating to the area in 2001. She first came to Images as a volunteer, she said.

"I swept the floors on Friday and made popcorn on Monday nights," she said. "It was about five months until the previous director decided to move on and I thought, this would be cute, and I applied for the job."

Since then, the cinema has seen a whole host of changes, she said. An interior-lit sign was erected on the building's facade in 2006, while a renovation in 2008 brought new seats, expanded concession and box office areas, and a space for the Mass MoCA By Design store. The theater then raised money to purchase a digital projector in 2012 and installed a new back-lit marquee in December of 2013. Membership to the cinema, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016, is at an all-time high, she added.

Thomas said it has also been satisfying engaging with the community in special events such as the annual Oscars Celebration, film series, and even special screenings for students on snow days.

"Most people who come into the cinema, I know who they are," she said. "That's a unique part of living in a small town, and has also been very special."

"In many ways, Sandra has come to stand for Images," John Strachan, president of the theater's board of directors, said in a news release announcing her decision. "We wish we could keep her forever, but we are at least thankful that she will stay in the area and continue her good work for the community and for all of North Country."

The board is actively searching for a new executive director and hopes to have someone in place before the end of June, the release states.

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