Linda Harrison named director, CEO of Newark Museum

Linda Harrison, newly appointed director, Newark Museum

NEWARK, N.J. – After a comprehensive, nationwide search, the Newark Museum Board of Trustees has appointed Linda Harrison as its new Director and Chief Executive Officer. Harrison will lead New Jersey’s largest museum, home to one of the most internationally respected global collections, effective January 2019.  She will be the museum’s eighth director, succeeding Steven Kern who left his position in 2017.

According to board co-chairs Clifford Blanchard and Christine Gilfillan, Harrison comes to the museum with more than 20 years of leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. She has been director and CEO of the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) since 2013.

Blanchard said that Harrison “is joining the Museum during an incredible time of transformation for both the institution and the City of Newark,” pointing to the Museum’s recent revitalization efforts that included the reopening of its historic Washington Street entrance. The surrounding neighborhood is home to new luxury residences and major businesses. “We see all around us how the neighborhood is changing quickly to accommodate its renewed development and growth. With Linda at the helm, the Newark Museum will continue to grow in its role as both a cultural and community anchor.”

“We are excited to have someone with Linda’s proven strengths in organizational and strategic planning join us,” said Gilfillan. “Under Linda’s leadership, MoAD presented a wide range of programs and exhibitions that engaged its community, resulting in significant increases in fund raising and attendance.”

During this transition period, the Museum has been led by interim co-directors Deborah Kasindorf and Ulysses Grant Dietz. The board was assisted by Isaacson, Miller, the national executive recruitment firm, which specializes in recruiting senior leadership to cultural and other mission-driven organizations, and which conducted the 2016 search for the director of The Newark Public Library, located within two blocks of the museum.

“San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora has grown and prospered under Linda’s leadership, said Wade L. Rose, MoAD Board Chair. “While we are saddened by Linda’s leaving we are thrilled by the results of her work and fully expect that the Newark Museum will benefit equally as well.”

“I’m thrilled to join the Newark Museum family to implement a bold transformation/agenda that lock-steps with the City of Newark’s revitalization of the downtown district,” said Harrison. “The Museum will be the City’s hub, where art, science, race and culture will ignite compassionate conversations.  I’m looking forward to forging dynamic partnerships with the business, civic and cultural organizations that will make us a destination city for arts, education and entertainment. I’m committed to creating a culture of access and inclusion, activating the beautiful buildings, collections and grounds of the museum.”

Harrison holds a BA in mass communications from Loyola University of Chicago, and she is a Getty Foundation Executive Leadership Institute Fellow. Prior to joining MoAD, she founded two San Francisco businesses, and worked as a vice president for Eastman Kodak, along with other Fortune 500 companies. As a culture leader in San Francisco, Harrison, was just decorated by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business.”  Harrison sits on the boards of Yerba Buena Community Business District and San Francisco Travel Visitors & Convention Bureau, as well as National Program Committee for American Alliance of Museums and Joyce Awards Jury, The  Joyce Foundation.

Harrison has garnered awards for her work on behalf of the Yerba Buena Arts district in San Francisco. She is also a recipient of the 2017 Arts and Culture award from San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Prior to her relocation to Newark, Harrison lived in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood with her wife, Ellen. They enjoy attending film festivals and traveling.

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