Newfields elects Darrianne Christian chair of its board of trustees

On May 19, Darrianne Christian was elected as the new chair of the Newfields board of trustees.

On May 19, Darrianne Christian was elected as the new chair of the Newfields board of trustees.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., May 20, 2021—At its 138th Annual Meeting, held May 19, Newfields’ trustees elected Darrianne Christian as the new chair of the Board of Trustees, and also elected a slate of new board members that significantly increases diversity at the institution’s highest level. Christian is the first Black woman to lead Newfields and among the first to lead a major art museum and culture institution in the United States.

Christian, a technology business owner, community volunteer, and philanthropist, has been the driving force behind Newfields’ work to transform itself into an empathetic, multicultural, and anti-racist institution. along with her husband was the visionary and lead benefactor for the creation of DePauw University’s Justin and Darrianne Christian Center for Diversity and Inclusion, which opened in 2017.

In that same year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) unified its campus under one name: Newfields, A Place for Nature and the Arts. The 152-acre campus incorporates the IMA, Fairbanks Park, The Garden, Lilly House, and the Elder Greenhouse.

Christian takes over for the outgoing Board of Trustees Chair, Katie Betley. During Betley’s tenure the Newfields team and board has had many accomplishments, including the formation of Newfields’ Board of Governors in 2018, the launch of several Newfields master plan projects, and fiscal sustainability that enabled Newfields to maintain full employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to naming Christian as Chair, the Board of Trustees also elected a slate of new members that increases the proportion of trustees with diverse backgrounds from eight percent to nearly 25 percent. The new trustees have deep ties to communities across Indianapolis, and many of them will contribute directly to Newfields’ acquiring new works of art from underrepresented artists.

Meeting attendees received a report on Newfields’ programming and activities for the time covering the pandemic as well as an update on the organization’s progress in implementing the comprehensive action plan announced in March, reflecting its commitment to become a more accessible, inclusive, organization.

“I can see and feel the change beginning at Newfields. It’s coming from our community, our employees, and from leaders bringing in new perspectives. This is a wonderful institution, and I want every person, regardless of who they are or where they live, to not just feel welcome here, but to see themselves reflected in what Newfields offers. We can do better and I will work every day to make this the community anchor Indianapolis deserves,” said incoming Board of Trustees Chair, Darrianne Christian.

“I am so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve these past three years, how Newfields has weathered challenging times. We are reaching record numbers of visitors and our offerings have never been more dynamic, creative, or engaging,” said outgoing Board of Trustees Chair, Katie Betley. “I’ve watched Darrianne pour her heart and soul into making Newfields a truly diverse and inclusive institution. She has had my support with every step, and I look forward to championing and celebrating that work in every way I can.”

“Darrianne has been a remarkable leader not only here at Newfields, but in our wider community. Her drive, her energy and her values make her the best fit for this role at Newfields. We are so thrilled to welcome her as our newest Chair,” said Newfields CFO and Interim President, Jerry Wise. “On behalf of the entire Newfields family, I want to extend our deepest thanks to Katie for her remarkable tenure and for her steadfast leadership over the past tumultuous year. She has the admiration and respect of people from every level of this organization.”

Visit the website of Newfields, a Place for Nature & the Arts.