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Newfields names new president after 14-month search

New president takes over following past president's resignation in February 2021
Posted at 4:04 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 16:04:58-04

INDIANAPOLIS – Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has been named the new president of Newfields after a 14-month search following the controversy that led to the resignation of former president Charles Venable.

The art museum and gardens announced Burnette’s hiring Tuesday.

Burnette, 65, has been president of Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black college in Austin, Texas since 2015.

The search for a new president began following the February 2021 resignation of Venable after more than 100 staffers, hundreds of artists and others in the community called for him to step following a job listing that prioritized maintaining the museum’s “core, white art audience.”

Burnette shared her admiration for the transformative power held by institutions like Newfields and believes in the ability of build on what is already in place.

“I’ve seen the nurturing and transformative power of cherished institutions like Newfields. I am thrilled to become part of a team driven to meet Newfields’ mission of enriching lives purposefully and intentionally through exceptional experiences with art and nature,” Burnette said. “I believe strongly in service, and I am excited to lead Newfields at this unique moment to make it a place every person in Indianapolis and beyond is excited to visit, and every team member is proud to work.”

Darrianne Christian, the Chair of Newfields’ Board of Trustees lauded the work of the search committee.

“Our Search Committee looked at leaders across the entire country, and Dr. Burnette was a clear standout amongst an impressive slate,” Christian said. “Her extensive professional achievements reflect her ability to deliver on her passion to innovate and advance the arts, education and green spaces. She is lauded by her staff, peers and the communities she served for being a humble leader with an immense amount of respect and empathy for everyone she encounters. Her legacy has been to elevate the beloved institutions she’s led into stronger more inclusive organizations that others seek to emulate. We are absolutely delighted to bring her leadership to Newfields.”