HBCU president Colette Pierce Burnette Makes History Leading Indianapolis Museum of Art

PhenomenalMAG Staff  |  Women In Power

Colette Pierce Burnette, a teacher and the current president of the HBCU Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas, has stepped into a historic position as the new president and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.

The 139-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native and Harvard alumna is the first Black woman to head Newfields, according to Art News. She has a sterling reputation and a wealth of experience in the fields of education, engineering, information technology, and public service.

Pierce Burnette said in a statement, "I am excited to join a team determined to meet Newfields' vision of improving lives purposely and intentionally via outstanding encounters with art and environment."

Following Charles L. Venable's departure last year amid controversy over a job posting seeking a director who would be in charge of upholding a "traditional, core, white art audience," Pierce Burnette was appointed. According to Art News, the intuition expressed regret and is working on an action plan to satisfy the requests of "activists for a better diversity commitment and a healthier workplace culture."

Pierce Burnette will carry out an action plan that includes a $20 million endowment to purchase works by minority artists, establish a program for antiracist and bias training, and acquire hiring reforms.

"I am pleased to lead Newfields at this special time to make it a place every individual in Indianapolis and beyond is excited to come, and every team member is glad to work," Pierce Burnette remarked.

Pierce Burnette graduated with a bachelor's in engineering from The Ohio State University and a master's in science in administration from Georgia College. She holds an Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Pennsylvania and the Management Development Program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

As an educator and co-chair of the Mayor's Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities, Pierce Burnette was recognized as the 2021 Austinite of the Year by the city's Chamber of Commerce.

August 1 marked the beginning of her new position.

According to The Indianapolis Star, Darrianne Christian, the first Black woman to serve as head of Newfield's Board of Trustees, said of Dr. Burnette, "Dr. Burnette was a clear standout amongst an excellent slate." "Her considerable professional accomplishments demonstrate her capacity to fulfill her desire to innovate and develop the arts, education, and green areas. She is praised by her team, peers, and the communities she worked with for being a modest leader who has a great deal of regard and empathy for everyone she meets.


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