THE NEW CHAIR of the board of trustees for the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is Geovette E. Washington. She is leading the board that oversees four major museums in the city: the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and Andy Warhol Museum.

Washington has been senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer at the University of Pittsburgh since 2015. She joined the Carnegie Museums board in 2017 and was elected vice chair earlier this year in April. At the June 10 board of trustees meeting, Washington was elected chair. A spokesperson for the museums confirmed she is the first Black person in the history of the institutions to head the museums board. Her term as chair began immediately.

 


Geovette E. Washington was elected chair of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh on June 10. | Photo courtesy University of Pittsburgh

 

She is succeeding William E. Hunt, who has chaired the Carnegie Museums board of trustees for seven years. Hunt is president and CEO of the Elmhurst Group, a real estate investment company.

“Carnegie Museums has a rich history of dedicated volunteer leaders—Bill Hunt and Geovette Washington, among them—who have been instrumental to its development and growth,” Steven Knapp, president and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh said in a statemnt.

“I am grateful to Bill who, after six years of exceptional leadership, stayed on as chair for an extra year to help a new president guide our museums through an unprecedented crisis. And now, having worked with Geovette in her role as vice chair, I am confident that our forward momentum will continue under her leadership, and that we will benefit in countless ways from her wisdom and experience.”

“Having worked with Geovette in her role as vice chair, I am confident that our forward momentum will continue under her leadership, and that we will benefit in countless ways from her wisdom and experience.”
— Carnegie Museums President and CEO Steven Knapp

Washington joined the University of Pittsburgh after working in the Obama Administration, first serving as deputy general counsel at the Department of Commerce (2010-13), then general counsel in the White House Office of Management and Budget (2013-15).

Previously, Washington spent more than a dozen years at Baach Robinson & Lewis, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm, where she was an associate for four years and partner for 10. She earned her J.D., from Duke University School of Law in 1992.

Museum boards are powerful governing bodies that shape the mission, vision, and direction of their institutions through strategic plans and budget priorities. In addition to being charged with raising funds, their members may also influence acquisitions, programming, and executive hiring. Historically, museum boards have lacked diversity and inclusion among members and failed to reflect the communities they serve. Diversity at the top, among board chairs and board presidents, is even rarer.

A recent report commissioned by the American Alliance of Museums found that nearly half of museum boards (46 percent) are entirely white and more than three-fourths of museum directors (77 percent) believe expanding racial and ethnic representation on their boards is critical to advancing their missions.

Washington is in exclusive ranks as one of the few African Americans heading a major art museum board. The list includes Denise Gardner board chair at the Art Institute of Chicago museum and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (effective in November, when she will not only be the first Black person to head the board, but also the first woman); Dr. Monroe E. Harris Jr., president of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees in Richmond; and Edward E. Greene, president of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston board of trustees. All of their appointments are historic firsts.

“I’m incredibly honored to have this opportunity to be an integral part of the Carnegie Museums story,” Washington said in a statement.

“The four museums play such a vital role in our lives—in the education and inspiration of our children and the cultural vitality of our community. Now more than ever, we need the expansive view of the world that these world-class museums have to offer.” CT

 

FIND MORE The Carnegie Museum of Art announced the curatorial team for the 58th Carnegie International today. Renée Akitelek Mboya is a member of the four-person curatorial council. The exhibition runs Sept. 24, 2022-April 2, 2023.

FIND MORE Current exhibitions at the Andy Warhol Museum include “Warhol and Basquiat In Focus: Works from the Permanent Collection,” “A Taste of Grace,” which is dedicated to Grace Jones, and “Fantasy America” featuring works by five contemporary artists, including Nona Faustine and Kambui Olujimi

 

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