Arts Consulting Group Tapped by the Bruce to Lead COO Search

Museums are increasingly turning to specialist recruiters to help fill critical senior-level leadership roles. As these positions grow more sophisticated and complex, the hunt for top-flight talent to fill these roles becomes all the more important. One recent search, Arts Consulting Group has been called in by Greenwich, Conn-based the Bruce Museum to find a new COO. Let’s see what kind of leader the search firm is seeking!

November 27, 2023 – Boston-based search firm Arts Consulting Group (ACG) has been retained by the Bruce Museum (the Bruce) in Greenwich, Conn, to lead in its search for a new chief operating officer. Wyona Lynch-McWhite, senior vice president, and Josyanne Roche, vice president, are leading the assignment for the search firm.

The COO, in partnership with the executive director and CEO, will serve as a co-leader and the primary administrative, operational, and facility leader of the newly revitalized the Bruce Museum. An engaged leader, the COO will be committed to organizational excellence and possess a deep appreciation for the changing museum field, community engagement, and high-quality visitor experiences, according to Arts Consulting Group. They will be the primary liaison to the Town of Greenwich and will serve as a key advocate for the Bruce’s needs in seeking maintenance support, operational funding, and capital funding from the Town in partnership.

The COO will provide leadership and clear direction to guide the strategic direction of the Bruce with direct responsibility for key operations and facilities projects. Reporting to the board of trustees, the COO will oversee, direct, and manage finance, facilities, museum store, café, security, IT systems, human resources, and communications (public relations, marketing, social and digital media). Arts Consulting Group also explains that the COO will also collaborate closely with the executive director and CEO’s direct reports, including exhibitions, art and science curatorial, audience engagement, and development to ensure the success of the operational goals of the Bruce.

Candidates should also be a collaborative and people-oriented professional who is receptive to new ideas and innovative approaches while respecting the investment of human and fiscal resources. Arts Consulting Group notes that candidates should be proficient in setting, pursuing, and achieving goals in a timely manner. They will be driven to support others while ensuring that organizational goals are met. In addition, the search firm explains that they will be a results-oriented relationship builder who maintains an engaged professional profile. Highly versatile, the COO will be a change agent who understands and can successfully manage the challenges associated with organizations that have undergone major change, either positive or negative, according to Arts Consulting Group. They will have the ability to move from dialogue to timely decision-making and action.

Related: Surging Non-Profit Sector Seeks Senior Leaders

The Bruce is a community-based, world-class institution accredited by the American Alliance of Museums that offers a changing array of exceptional exhibitions and educational programs to promote the understanding and appreciation of art, science, and the intersections between the two disciplines. Now considered ahead of its time for taking this multidisciplinary approach over a century ago, the Bruce is at the heart of contemporary efforts to bring together art, science, technology, and creativity to generate moments of discovery and dialogue. The first exhibition at the Bruce took place in 1912 and featured works by local artists known as the Greenwich Society of Artists, several of whom were members of the Cos Cob Art Colony. Their works formed the nucleus of the Bruce’s art holdings and continue to be a strength of the collection, which has expanded to focus on global art from 1850 to the present.

Arts and Culture Recruiters

Arts Consulting Group provides interim management, executive search, revenue enhancement consulting, facilities and program planning, and organizational development services for the arts and culture industry. The firm has identified senior-level leaders for the Long Beach Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Chicago Opera, Stockton Symphony Association and Portland Baroque Orchestra, among others. The firm has offices in Boston; Calgary; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Halifax; Los Angeles; Nashville, TN; New York; Portland, OR; San Francisco; Tampa, FL; Toronto; and Washington, D.C.

Demand Intensifies From Non-Profits Seeking Senior Talent
Non-profit organizations in 2023 are facing inflation, declining donations, increased demand for services, workforce shortages, and more. A recent non-profit trends report by Forbes says that the changing workforce is presenting challenges for both for-profit and non-profit leaders. Being ready to consider alternative staffing options would put many of them ahead of the shifting landscape, says Forbes. Fractional staffing possibilities exist from the administrative level through the executive director level, says the report, and may be worthy of consideration for both short-term vacancies and long-term solutions. For senior-level positions, many leading non-profits are turning to executive search firms.

A search for a non-profit executive has much in common with any personnel search, and most boards have members who have hired many people in their careers. The distinctions in the hiring of an executive by a volunteer board, however, create special process issues, and a specialized search firm is best suited to address these, says a report from The Moran Company.

President Bruce D. Thibodeau founded ACG in 1997 and has been part of numerous projects in all practice areas to grow institutional sustainability, advance the arts and culture sector, and enhance communities served by the industry. Dr. Thibodeau has guided hundreds of non-profit, university and government clients in achieving effective leadership transitions, planning cultural facilities, increasing revenues, developing dynamic institutional brands and messages, crafting strategic plans and business models, and revitalizing board governance practices.

Ms. Lynch-McWhite joined ACG as vice president in 2016, bringing more than 21 years of experience leading art, university, and multidisciplinary museums. Her areas of expertise include executive search, museum planning, organizational assessments, strategic visioning, fundraising, and diversity training. As an executive search practice leader, she has led numerous search processes throughout the U.S. and Canada, placing executive leaders for a wide range of non-profit organizations, universities, and government agencies. Ms. Lynch-McWhite has also provided solutions in the areas of earned revenue enhancement, strategic planning, and museum planning.

Related: Navigating a Non-Profit Succession Plan

Ms. Roche has a wealth of experience in organizational development and talent cultivation, and recruitment. She has devoted her career to helping clients find senior leaders to meet their needs and in establishing strong, equitable, and diverse teams. Her areas of expertise include client engagement, project management, candidate development, and research spanning across higher education, non-profit, arts and culture, healthcare, and government sectors.

Recent Work

Arts Consulting Group recently placed Kayla G. Coleman as the new executive director of the New England Museum Association (NEMA). Ms. Lynch-McWhite and Geoff Chang, vice president, led the search. “The NEMA staff and board are thrilled to welcome Kayla Coleman as our new executive director,” said Raney Bench, NEMA board president. “Kayla’s passion for the arts, culture, and history sector is evident in her past work experience, and in the creative ways in which she approaches her work with museums. She is a powerful advocate for our field and in addressing historic and current inequity in the sector. Her leadership will guide the NEMA team as we begin the work of implementing our new values.”

Ms. Coleman’s appointment follows an extensive nationwide search led by a search committee, co-chaired by NEMA board members Allison Shilling and Sherman Morss, working with Arts Consulting Group. Ms. Coleman is an art historian, curator, educator, writer, and public art advocate who specializes in modern and contemporary art by Black artists in the United States and the Caribbean. Her work is rooted in topics that include access, post-colonialism, gentrification, and the intersections of marginalization. She was most recently executive director of VAE Raleigh. The New England Museum Association can be traced back more than 100 years ago to the first “New England Conference” organized by Delia Isabel Griffin, founding director of the Boston Children’s Museum.

Arts Consulting Group also assisted in the recruitment of Kayla Coleman as the new executive director of the New England Museum Association (NEMA). Ms. Lynch-McWhite and Mr. Chang led the assignment for the search firm. “The NEMA staff and board are thrilled to welcome Kayla Coleman as our new executive director,” said Raney Bench, NEMA board president. “Kayla’s passion for the arts, culture, and history sector is evident in her past work experience, and in the creative ways in which she approaches her work with museums. She is a powerful advocate for our field and in addressing historic and current inequity in the sector. Her leadership will guide the NEMA team as we begin the work of implementing our new values.”

Related: Arts Consulting Recruits New Leader for Martha’s Vineyard Museum 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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