Opportunity Resources Searching for Columbia Museum of Art Leader

March 10, 2017 – Executive search firm Opportunity Resources has been selected by the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) to find it a new executive director. The position’s current occupant, Karen Brosius, informed board members and staff late last year that she was leaving to become president of Careers Through Culinary Arts Program.

Lynn Robertson, former executive director of the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, is serving as interim executive director while the search is conducted for a permanent, full-time replacement.

“Lynn and I have been friends for a long time, and she was my top recommendation to the board to take on this role. I feel really good leaving the talented staff of the CMA in Lynn’s hands,” said Ms. Brosius. “She has as much love for this community as I do and has been so gracious in talking with us and agreeing to help the board throughout our recruitment and hiring process.” Scott R. McClelland, board chair of CMA, said the search committee was “going to take the right amount of time” to identify its next leader, but he declined to give a specific timetable of when that new leader would be selected and installed.

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Established in 1950, the Columbia Museum of Art is among the leading art institutions in the country. In its 25-plus galleries, its art collection spans some 5,000 years of world history.

Opportunity Resources is a national boutique search and management consulting firm focused on finding leadership for not-for-profit cultural institutions. Clients include museums of all disciplines, visual and performing arts centers, university galleries and museums and related organizations. The firm recently placed top leaders at Corning Museum of Glass, Currier Museum of Art, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, International Print Center New York, Biggs Museum of American Art, and the Anniston Museum Complex.

Sounding Board

Freda Mindlin, the firm’s president and CEO, has 31 years of executive search experience in the not-for-profit cultural sector. This includes several years when she was affiliated with Johnson Smith & Knisely and Ward Howell, two international search firms where she managed their not-for-profit recruiting practice divisions. With this background, she has personally executed or supervised several hundred senior level executive search assignments for museums in every genre, including history, science and visual art and performing arts organizations throughout the country.

Ms. Mindlin established Opportunity Resources in 1986 as a stand alone search firm at a time when few specialists with a focus on finding cultural leaders existed. If and when these organizations turned to executive recruiters for talent, they typically requested the services of one of the top generalists that had a non-profit specialty practice area.

Today, these organizations are turning to search firms, both big and small, to assess their talent needs and then to identify, vet, recruit and place their executive leadership and other top level staff. Ms. Mindlin takes that process one step further by assisting with interim staff selection, advising on interviewing techniques, providing guidance on industry salaries and benefits packages, and managing executive transitions. According to clients, she also functions as an important sounding board on all leadership matters once an assignment is completed.

Museums Looking for New Leaders

In the not-too-distant past, few executive search firms built their businesses around serving non-profit organizations. These days, as the sector expands and outpaces for-profit enterprise growth, non-profits have become one of headhunting’s hottest markets. Working in the sector is finding greater appeal among business leaders and employment opportunities at non-profits are coming just in time for recruiters who have been challenged by dwindling talent pools. In response, recruiters have had to double down in their efforts to better address the needs of their non-profit clients ….. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

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Search Activity

Museums, of course, are no strangers to executive search firms. But more of them are now turning to specialists in the field who ply their trade to help fill critical, senior level leadership roles.

In January, Phillips Oppenheim was retained by the Barack Obama Presidential Museum in Chicago to finds its director. Principal Sarah James and partner Becky Klein are leading the search. The incoming museum director is expected to take advantage of the Museum’s unique opportunities embedded within an unusual interpretation of the traditional presidential library model. The leader will position the museum as the first point of entry to the Obama Presidential Center and ensure it is a welcoming and highly appealing space and experience.

Korn Ferry placed Olivier Meslay as the new director of the Clark Art Institute. Mr. Meslay, an accomplished museum professional and noted scholar, was an associate director of curatorial affairs, senior curator of European and American art, and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). The Clark Art Institute, located in Williamstown, MA, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts.

Korn Ferry also tapped Dr. Marcelle Polednik as director of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Naree Viner led the assignment along with Charles Ingersoll, co-leader of Korn Ferry’s non-profit search practice. Dr. Polednik came from the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville where she served as director and chief curator. The Milwaukee Art Museum collects and preserves art, presenting it to the community as a vital source of inspiration and education.

Russell Reynolds Associates recruited John S. Bacon as president of Stratford Hall. Mr. Bacon previously was with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg for 28 years. Stratford Hall, a historic house museum in Westmoreland County, VA, was the plantation house of four generations of the Lee family of Virginia.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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