I have some big news to talk about. In mid-2019, I’ll move out of my role as the executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) to target full-time on leading OF/BY/FOR ALL, a rising global movement to develop more inclusive community organizations. We’re planning for a slow and thoughtful changeover; you can read more about any of it on the MAH website. Here on this blog, I wanted to share more of the non-public side of the decision and what it means for me.
It has been my great privilege to lead the MAH since May 2011. WHILE I started as executive director, I had been 29 years old. I knew nothing at all about management. Nothing about fundraising. However the museum needed a new direction, and the panel got a risk on me. I knew something about community participation. I knew something about taking risks and making space for others to take action.
I understood that Santa Cruz County – my much loved chosen home – was full of creative, inquisitive people wanting to connect in a new kind of institution. Therefore we made the MAH that organization, filled with diverse, brilliant humans coming to togetherbuild a more powerful, more connected community. I love to joke that both our biggest advocates and our biggest critics say a similar thing about the MAH: “that the museum is a community middle.” They’re right.
Our incredible personnel and companions make it so every single day. I couldn’t be prouder. So why would I begin to make plans to leave at this right time of strength and beauty? Over the past year, I’ve caused the MAH board to incubate OF/BY/FOR ALL, a global movement to help more organizations do the type of community-involved work we do at the MAH.
When OF/BY/FOR ALL began, day we thought it would develop big one. Quickly that day would come We’d no idea how. Year In the past, OF/BY/FOR ALL has gone from smart to a full-fledged nonprofit startup. I’m thrilled that so many people round the world want to utilize us to create more inclusive establishments.
I’m filled with appreciation for the amazing staff at the MAH who have made it possible for me to spend additional time online and on airplanes. But I see that this won’t be sustainable for too much longer. I see the incredible potential for both MAH and for OF/BY/FOR ALL, and I think that each will soon need focused, committed management.
This sent me into an honest assessment of my very own skills and passions and where I possibly could do my best work. I’m an entrepreneurial, experimental, opportunistic leader. Those skills made me a great fit to turn around and grow the MAH to the amazing place it is today. But I see these same skills will make me a responsibility to keep the MAH strong and growing.
I’ve learned and produced a great deal as a supervisor and head as the MAH has developed. But the institution is growing beyond my “zone of genius” as a risk-taking pacemaker. The MAH doesn’t need someone to break it open up and repair it. It needs someone to deepen and reinforce it. The MAH is cherished by me, which is wanted by me to have the best professional director possible. I know see your face is out there–that leader who’s brilliant on depth and structure, focused on community inclusion and impact. Maybe it’s you – or possibly it’s someone you know. Whenever we post the working job announcement in a couple weeks, I hope you’ll help share the chance.
I truly believe it is the best museum director job in the world. This is not an easy decision to make. I’m going to be leaving a location that has been home for me personally. I have outstanding co-workers who make our office joyful, zany, and adoring. They teach me new ways to be true to our community every day.
I have the best table, filled with thoughtful, diverse community market leaders. In every day ready to get included And there will be the people walking, their pockets spilling over with ideas and passion. I love how open the MAH feels and how open it has made me. But I also see what a huge opportunity lies for me with OF/BY/FOR ALL ahead.