February 1, 2022 – Diversified Search Group | Koya Partners recently assisted in the placement of Ben Garcia as the first executive director of the American L.G.B.T.Q.+ Museum. The search was led by Melissa Madzel, Stephen Milbauer and Jason Mannino. “After five years of working to get to this point, after our groundbreaking with the New York Historical Society last fall, the board is delighted to welcome Ben Garcia as our first executive director,” said Richard Burns, chair of the American LGBTQ+ Museum board of directors and interim executive director of the Johnson Family Foundation. “Ben brings the experience, knowledge, and vision we need to lead our museum to our opening in 2024 and beyond. We’re all excited to begin working closely with him come in February!”
“A key goal of this museum is to right many of the historic wrongs committed through the deliberate erasure of the gender and racial diversity of our community for political expediency,” said Imara Jones, American LGTBQ+ board member and CEO of Translash. “Ben understands that it is essential to center those left out and left behind, in order for LGBTQ+ people to have a just future that endures and works for all. This understanding is one that he gets profoundly and clearly. It is why our museum will be unique in important ways as a result. It’s exciting quite frankly.”
“Ben is uniquely situated to lead our museum, given his experience in transforming museums to be more inclusive, his vast network and his values orientation,” said Surina Khan, American LGBTQ+ Museum board member and co-chair of the search committee and CEO of Women’s Foundation of California. “His experiences working with the LGBTQ and other allied movements make us confident he will help our board further integrate our social justice values into the DNA of this organization as we work towards our opening in a few years’ time.”
Bringing more than 20 years of experience in museum leadership, development and intersectional LGBTQ+ advocacy, Mr. Garcia will lead the museum’s exhibition and program development, advocacy efforts, communications and community outreach, and fundraising. He is charged with bringing the American LGBTQ+ Museum into its next stage of growth as the museum group works toward the opening of its physical home at the New-York Historical Society in 2024.
Mr. Garcia joins the organization from the Ohio History Connection, where he served as deputy executive director and chief learning officer. In that role, he oversaw initiatives to center Ohio’s untold histories, repatriate Indigenous ancestors and belongings, and increase environmental and economic sustainability for its 58 museums and historic sites. His previous museum experience includes leadership roles in the education departments of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center, and administrative roles at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Us. He also serves on the board of directors for Equality Ohio and the Association of Midwest Museums.
Mr. Garcia’s work has been focused on equity, representation and decolonization in museum administration, exhibitions and development initiatives. Mr. Garcia will be charged with developing the American LGBTQ+ Museum’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign to fund exhibitions, educational programs and operations.
“To lead the American LGBTQ+ Museum into this next phase is a dream realized,” said Mr. Garcia. “Together, we will tell the stories of queer peoples in this country from its Indigenous beginnings to the present; thousands of stories that haven’t been told before in museums; stories brought to life through the work of LGBTQ+ creatives and scholars. This museum will be a space of celebration, connection, activism and deep meaning. A liminal space where the connection to our ancestors will be strong and queer magic, real.”
“In Ben Garcia, the American LGBTQ+ Museum has found a leader who uniquely combines vision, commitment to queer people’s stories and legacies, and deep experience in museum management,” said Urvashi Vaid, American LGBTQ+ Museum board member and search committee member and president of The Vaid Group. “His ideas and intellect inspired all of us on the board, and I can’t wait to start working with him.”
The American LGBTQ+ Museum preserves, investigates, and celebrates the dynamic histories and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, as well as those of the emergent and adjacent identities among our communities. Using exhibitions and programs, they seek to advance LGBTQ+ equality through the lens of social justice movements, including, but not limited to, race, gender, class, immigration and disability.
Family of Firms
Diversified Search Group is a family of firms serving specialized sectors. The firm was founded almost five decades ago for the express purpose of placing diverse candidates in client organizations. Koya Partners is a part of the Diversified Search Group and is dedicated to mission-driven leadership. Koya works broadly at the senior-most levels of the mission-driven field in philanthropy, social services, arts and culture, and social justice, among others.
In 2020, Koya was acquired by Diversified Search. With the combination of revenues and resources, Diversified Search and Koya now represent one of the largest non-profit and higher education practices in the executive search industry.
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Ms. Madzel is passionate about applying a social justice lens to all of her work. Dedicated to empowering marginalized communities, she speaks regularly on the topic of career development for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Through her direct non-profit work, Ms. Madzel has developed a deep understanding of a variety of non-profit roles and organizational cultures.
Mr. Milbauer, managing associate, serves clients around the country, focusing on the mission-driven and education sectors. In particular, he has deep experience in the field of arts and culture. Mr. Milbauer has partnered with clients on a wide variety of senior-level placements, including CEO, president, executive director, director, COO, CFO, chief information officers, chief communications and marketing officers, country directors and development/fundraising executives. In the field of arts and culture, he has expertise with both curatorial and functional leadership searches.
Mr. Mannino, senior search associate, has over a decade of experience partnering with a variety of mission-driven clients nationally and globally to recruit exceptional talent. He has played a leading role in identifying and recruiting leaders to CEO, president, executive director and other senior leadership positions for a broad range of mission-driven clients. He has deep experience in non-profit, higher education, and healthcare along with experience in social impact sectors including conservation, justice reform, financial services, arts and entertainment.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media