October 24, 2023 – Boston-based search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) has assisted in the recruitment of Kayla Coleman as the new executive director of the New England Museum Association (NEMA). Wyona Lynch-McWhite, senior vice president, and Geoff Chang, vice president, led the assignment for the search firm. “The NEMA staff and board are thrilled to welcome Kayla Coleman as our new executive director,” said Raney Bench, NEMA board president. “Kayla’s passion for the arts, culture, and history sector is evident in her past work experience, and in the creative ways in which she approaches her work with museums. She is a powerful advocate for our field and in addressing historic and current inequity in the sector. Her leadership will guide the NEMA team as we begin the work of implementing our new values.”
Ms. Coleman’s appointment follows an extensive nationwide search led by a search committee, co-chaired by NEMA board members Allison Shilling and Sherman Morss, working with Arts Consulting Group.
Ms. Coleman is an art historian, curator, educator, writer, and public art advocate who specializes in Modern and Contemporary art by Black artists in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Her work is rooted in topics that include access, post-colonialism, gentrification, and the intersections of marginalization. She received an AS in Gallery & Museum Studies and Photography from Queensborough Community College, a BA in Art History from Brooklyn College, and a MA in Art History from the City College of New York.
Ms. Coleman has held positions at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York Historical Society, WhiteBox, and BronxArtSpace. She was most recently executive director of VAE Raleigh. Ms. Coleman has delivered lectures and panels at Wofford College, Brooklyn College, BronxArtSpace, and the New York African Studies Association. She has contributed writing and research for books, magazines, and catalogs including publications on Alma Thomas and Bettye Saar.
“Passionate about human and civil rights, Coleman has done community organizing around racism, prison reform, housing rights, immigration, abortion rights, and voting rights,” NEMA said. “She is excited to continue the important work of NEMA, where she can apply her knowledge and experience to continue cultivating a more equitable and informed museum world.”
The New England Museum Association can be traced back more than 100 years ago to the first “New England Conference” organized by Delia Isabel Griffin, founding director of the Boston Children’s Museum. Since then, NEMA has grown to become the country’s largest and one of the most active regional museum association with programs and services that extend beyond the region’s borders. The organization hosts a variety of programs and events throughout the year, including networking receptions, educational webinars and workshops, roundtables with leaders, and the annual conference attended by an average of 800 museum professionals; where Publications, Excellence, and Lifetime Achievements Awards are given. Resources for the field include NEMA Marketplace, New England Museums Now (an online journal), NEMA jobs, Museum Document Exchange, NEMA 911, and Professional Affinity Gatherings.
Arts and Culture Recruiters
Arts Consulting Group provides interim management, executive search, revenue enhancement consulting, facilities and program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. The firm has identified senior-level leaders for the Long Beach Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Chicago Opera, Stockton Symphony Association and Portland Baroque Orchestra, among others. The firm has offices in Boston; Calgary; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Halifax; Los Angeles; Nashville, TN; New York; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Tampa, FL; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.
President Bruce D. Thibodeau founded ACG in 1997 and has been part of numerous projects in all practice areas to grow institutional sustainability, advance the arts and culture sector, and enhance communities served by the industry. Dr. Thibodeau has guided hundreds of non-profit, university and government clients in achieving effective leadership transitions, planning cultural facilities, increasing revenues, developing dynamic institutional brands and messages, crafting strategic plans and business models, and revitalizing board governance practices.
Ms. Lynch-McWhite joined ACG as vice president in 2016, bringing more than 21 years of experience leading art, university, and multidisciplinary museums. Her areas of expertise include executive search, museum planning, organizational assessments, strategic visioning, fundraising, and diversity training. As an executive search practice leader, she has led numerous search processes throughout the U.S. and Canada, placing executive leaders for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, universities, and government agencies. Ms. Lynch-McWhite has also provided effective solutions in the areas of earned revenue enhancement, strategic planning, and museum planning.
Mr. Chang joined ACG in 2020, bringing a rich background of experience within the arts and culture industries, specifically within the dance sector. Mr. Chang most recently served as general manager at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, New York, where he produced performances at many of the world’s leading cultural venues and arts festivals.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; and Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media