ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene’s National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) is transitioning between exhibits and executive directors.

Molly Bellah, who has been with the center since early 2020, is taking over for Trish Dressen, who is stepping down after a four-year run as director.

“Trish roped me in very easily, but it’s just been an incredible journey to get here,” Bellah said.

Although Bellah is an Abilene native who attended Abilene Christian schools and graduated from Hardin-Simmons University, she says she wasn’t aware of the NCCIL until Dressen invited her over.

“She encouraged me to come and bring my kids to Saturday family days and, again, this was in 2019,” Bellah recalled.

A stroll though the gallery and a quick art lesson for her twins was all Bellah needed to understand what the center had to offer.

“It lights a fire in children’s eyes. Not only mine, but for many children. It’s just a very empowering place to be,” Bellah assured.

And though she knows Dressen’s shoes won’t be easy to fill, she’s excited to be at the beginning of her own chapter of the center’s nearly 25-year story.

“Her legacy in the downtown and just all of Abilene as a whole… I think it will definitely feel different. I feel like she’ll still be here. Actually, I know she will be,” Bellah added. “Being able to make a greater impact for children, I think, is the legacy of the NCCIL.”