Phillips Oppenheim Recruits CEO for World Monuments Fund

September 27, 2019 – Following an international search, executive search firm Phillips Oppenheim has placed Bénédicte de Montlaur as the new CEO of the World Monuments Fund (WMF) in New York City. Joshua David stepped down from the role to pursue other opportunities. Principal Sarah James and partner Becky Klein led the assignment for the recruitment firm.

“The board is delighted to announce the appointment of Bénédicte de Montlaur as the fourth CEO of World Monuments Fund,” said Lorna Goodman, chair of the board of trustees. “Thanks to our hardworking search committee and input from a myriad of sources, we think we have found the perfect leader to shepherd World Monuments Fund into the future. She is an inspiring cultural visionary with a proven record of working in a global context to develop innovative and ambitious strategies and mobilize diverse stakeholders to bring them to life.”

Having only had four CEOs over 54 years, the non-profit wanted a CEO with exceptional executive leadership abilities and a record of fundraising, hands-on strategic management and effective advocacy experience. Ms. de Montlaur, whose mandate as cultural counselor of the French embassy in the U.S. ended in August, fit that bill, spending the last two decades working on three continents as a senior diplomat at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to directing French-American cultural, educational and artistic relations in her current role, she held positions including deputy assistant secretary in charge of North Africa, negotiator on Africa and the Middle East at the United Nations Security Council, and first secretary at the French embassy in Damascus, Syria.

“I’d like to congratulate Bénédicte de Montlaur for (winning) this important new position,” said Philippe Etienne, French Ambassador to the U.S. “While it’s sad to see her leave the foreign ministry, we are impressed by and grateful for all the achievements, development and momentum that she brought to the embassy’s cultural services over the past four years. We look forward to working with her in her new role.”

In her new role, Ms. de Montlaur will be responsible for the strategic vision and leadership of WMF, which involves funding and oversight of preservation efforts for the world’s greatest architectural and socially significant sites. The organization’s core program, the World Monuments Watch, uses cultural heritage conservation to increase community resilience and enhance social inclusion.

“I am honored to be joining this vital organization and look forward to working with its talented staff, global affiliates and dedicated board,” said Ms. de Montlaur. “World heritage treasures are increasingly threatened by urbanization, climate change and violent conflicts. And this challenges all of us to find new and innovative ways to appreciate and protect the value of the global heritage that unites us.”

“I’m excited to help further WMF’s mission of working with local communities to sustain their heritage sites, advocate for endangered monuments and explore modern approaches that enable truly sustainable heritage solutions,” she said.

The World Monuments Fund is the preeminent non-profit organization dedicated to saving the world’s most treasured places of cultural heritage. Since its inception in 1965, the organization’s experts have been racing against time, applying proven techniques to preserve important architectural and cultural heritage sites on more than 600 projects in 90 countries. Today, with affiliate organizations in Britain, India, Peru, Portugal and Spain, the group sponsors the conservation of cultural heritage worldwide.

Finding Mission-Driven Leaders

Phillips Oppenheim, founded in 1991, provides mission-driven organizations with senior leaders from the business, public and non-profit sectors. It sponsors roundtable discussions, participates in workshops and conferences and acts as informal counsel to non-profit organizations and their boards. Among its many clients: New York City Ballet, the Museum of the American Revolution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Arts Club, Table to Table, the African Wildlife Foundation and the Barack Obama Presidential Museum, and others.


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Ms. James has been recruiting for local, national and international non-profit institutions and corporations since 1996. A generalist, she has recruited chief executives for leading arts, aid, advocacy, education, environmental, faith-based, healthcare, philanthropic and social service institutions. Since joining Phillips Oppenheim in 2001, she has founded its visual arts practice, recruiting directors for more than one hundred art institutions.

Ms. Klein has combined search experience with the arts during her professional career. She joined Phillips Oppenheim in 1993, became a partner in the firm in 2000 and serves as managing partner. While bringing a special focus on cultural institutions, Ms. Klein has worked with a diverse range of clients including foundations, social justice and advocacy organizations, and academic institutions across the U.S. and internationally.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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