MoAD Matters: Updates on the Team
by James G. Leventhal, Acting Director and CEO
With the recent reassertion of the mission as a contemporary art museum that celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora, MoAD is uniquely well positioned to be a laboratory for professionals at various stages in their career. MoAD is a springboard for new work, collaboration, relevance, and greater understanding of the impact of museums in the 21st century. As a small-to-medium sized institution, it is interesting to consider whether defining elements of MoAD as “perfect sized,” nimble, and responsive make it part of the question: Do Smaller Museums Better Serve Their Communities?With that in mind, it is great to be able to share out and report recent updates in staffing.
Following a successful run in the role by local artist Soleil Summer, this past February Elena Gross was hired to be the current exhibitions associate, working closely with Director of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs Emily Kuhlmann in running the IMLS-funded Emerging Artist Program at MoAD. Elena Gross is an independent writer and culture critic living in Oakland, CA. She received an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in 2016, and her BA in Art History and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2012. Elena was formerly the creator and co-host of the arts & visual culture podcast “What Are You Looking At?” published by Art Practical, for more of her work at Art Practical, click here.
As the Museum’s current Visitor Experience Manager, Nia McAllister joined MoAD in December 2017 as part of the Visitor Experience team. Having initially connected with MoAD as a visitor and participant at many of the museum’s public programs, Nia witnessed first-hand how MoAD successfully serves the community as a vital educational and cultural resource. Drawn to the community-based mission and impactful ways MoAD creates space for the exchange of ideas, art, and conversation about the African Diaspora. Nia is a popular bay area poet and is instrumental in the creation and continued success of The Museum’s Open Mic Nights which coincide with the Yerba Buena Neighborhood’s Third Thursdays.
Moving up from his role as Director of Marketing and Online Communications, Mark Sabb was recently named the Senior Director for Innovation and Engagement. Founder of the online digital art enterprise FELT Zine, Mark Sabb is a digital strategist, artist, and designer dedicated to the intersection of arts and community. Mark’s impact at MoAD and all those we serve has been profound – partnering with Lady Phoenix on the installation of the exhibition Digitalia at MoAD, one of the first-ever augmented-reality-based exhibitions. Mark is also now working on in-gallery interpretive materials using the latest in AR technology.
Nicole Winthrop, now Membership manager and Board Liaison, joined MoAD in 2017 as Visitor Experience Associate. She received her BA in Philosophy from Dominican University of CA in San Rafael, then went on to travel and teach English as a Second Language, working with identities ranging from Malian professors to Japanese makeup artists, Colombian traders to Chinese small business owners, Polish actresses to high-ranking Ghanaian military officers. From 2012-2016, Nicole built a 2.5M sales portfolio over a 4-year real estate career in New York City. Since joining MoAD, Nicole has incorporated her organizational, sales, and customer services skills to build out the Museum Bookstore by engaging local authors and writers to sell their works in the Store, as well as by coordinating programs around their works.
The Museum’s Board is deep in the formal search process for the next Director. In the meantime, it is so important that MoAD continues the upward trajectory it has experienced over the last several years, and the innovative, community-based work around which it was founded. MoAD is dedicated to the professional diversification of the museum field. Consider the fact that the former Director and CEO of MoAD is Linda Harrison, recently appointed to be the CEO at the Newark Museum in New Jersey, possibly making her the first African American woman to be appointed to run a large, mainstream or non-ethnically-specific museum in the United States? As Linda would say, “Now that’s a beautiful thing.”