Over the past year-plus, 15 Indianapolis CEOs, directors and presidents have announced that they are stepping down. Here’s where they’re headed next.
Domenica Bongiovanni, email@example.com
Since late last spring, the news out of the top offices of arts and cultural organizations has had a glaring similarity. A CEO, president or director of some sort has announced he or she is leaving.
To date, the total has come to 15 such changes. And that has alarmed some in the arts community.
Did they have a secret plan to exit together? No, and investigating the reasons for the shifts — taking time off, retiring, traveling the world or taking a new job — demonstrate that they don’t stem from any single reason.
Here’s why the arts and cultural leaders are leaving, what’s next for them and who’s replacing them in their positions.
Dave Lawrence, Arts Council of Indianapolis
Who he is: Lawrence served as the Arts Council’s president and CEO for nine years and. He was in charge of the “46 for XLVI” Super Bowl mural project and sat on host committees for the 2015 NCAA Men’s Final Four, and the 100th Indianapolis 500.
Why he left/what’s next:He is president and CEO of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County in Lake Worth, Fla. He came to love the area while serving on a grant panel for the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County in 2013.
Who’s replacing him: A national search is underway. Shannon Linker, vice president of the council, is the interim president.
Cassie Stockamp, Athenaeum Foundation
Who she is: Hired as president of the foundation in 2007, Stockamp is credited with creating a business model flexible enough to host multiple organizations, like Coat Check Coffee and Young Actors Theatre. She spearheaded GermanFest and recognition for the building as a National Historic Landmark.
Why she’s leaving/what’s next: Stockamp will officially leave her position in January. She plans to travel the world, volunteering along the way.
Who’s replacing her: A national search is underway for the next president.
Gary Ginstling, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Who he is: Ginstling came on board in 2013 as CEO and guided the symphony to record ticket-sales income and worked out a contract between the ISO and musicians a year ahead of schedule in 2016.
Why he left/what’s next: Ginstling resigned in September 2017 to become executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Symphony Orchestra.
Who replaced him:James Johnson, previously the president of the Omaha Symphony. He also worked for the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Zach De Pue, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Who he is: The ISO concertmaster, who is the orchestra’s principal violinist, became one of the most recognizable faces behind conductors Krzysztof Urbanski and Jack Everly for the past 11 years. He was one of the youngest concertmasters in the country when he was appointed in 2007.
Why he left and what’s next: De Pue resigned in June. Neither he nor the ISO have provided a reason for his departure after multiple inquiries.
Who’s replacing him: A search is underway.
Molly Chavers, IndyHub
Who she is: The founding executive director of IndyHub, a networking organization that started in 2005. IndyHub helps people in their 20s and 30s find their niche in Indianapolis and have a say in how the city develops.
Why she’s leaving/what’s next:Chavers wanted to take some time off and find a new opportunity in the city.
Who’s replacing her: A search is underway. Chavers will stay with the organization through the transition and plans to depart before the end of the year.
Lloyd Wright, WFYI
Who he is: Wright is president and CEO of WFYI Public Media. The Beech Grove native has served in that position since 1989. During his time at the helm, WFYI has garnered more than 120 regional Emmy Awards.
Why he’s leaving/what’s next: Shortly after his 65th birthday, he announced that he will retire in 2019 but will advise the company as long as he’s needed.
Who’s replacing him: A three-member executive leadership team — Connie Fraley Campbell, Matt Shafer Powell and David Slade — is in place to ease the transition. WFYI will launch a national search to fill the position.
John Herbst, Indiana Historical Society
Who he is: President and CEO John Herbst has held the top role for 12 years. Before that, he served as president of Conner Prairie in Fishers and then CEO of the Indiana State Museum.
Why he’s leaving/what’s next: Herbst is retiring at the end of the year after a 44-year career in public history. He’ll split time between homes in Indianapolis and Leland, Michigan.
Who’s replacing him: A search committee hopes to select a replacement by the end of the year.
Bryan Fonseca, Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre
Who he is: After co-founding the Phoenix Theatre in 1983, Fonseca served as producing director. He became a major force for cutting-edge theater that championed minority voices and pushed social boundaries.
Why he left: In May, about a month after moving into the new $11 million building at Walnut and Illinois streets, Fonseca stepped down from his post. In the release announcing his departure, the director wrote that the Phoenix Theatre’s board was focused on meeting fiscal demands for which other leaders were more capable.
What’s next: Fonseca started the Fonseca Theatre Company on the near west side. The endeavor — theater, performance venue, classroom and townhall discussion forum — will highlight Latinx, African American, Middle Eastern and Asian communities.
Who’s replacing him: Bill Simmons, who was the capital campaign manager at the Phoenix as well as an actor and director.
Mike Crowther, Indianapolis Zoo
Who he is: The CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo since 2002, Crowther has overseen the additions of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, Oceans exhibit (including the shark touch pool) and Bicentennial Pavilion. He also created the Indianapolis Prize, an annual award given for animal conservation.
Why he’s leaving/what’s next: Crowther announced in 2017 that he will retire in January 2020.
Who’s replacing him: Zoo President Rob Shumaker will assume the duties of CEO in addition to his current role as president.
Tom King, Indiana State Museum
Who he is: In 2010, then-Gov. Mitch Daniels asked King to become president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum. King became known for major exhibitions, including “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” and “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.”
Why he left/what’s next: King retired in 2017.
Who replaced him: Cathy Ferree, previously the vice president and COO at Conner Prairie, became president and CEO in May 2017.
Valerie Eickmeier, Herron School of Art and Design
Who she is: Eickmeier served as the dean of the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for the last 20 years.
Why she left/what’s next: She stepped down from the Herron deanship in July, but she’ll continue at IUPUI as a Herron faculty member beginning in 2019. She’s on sabbatical during the 2018-2019 academic year.
Who replaced her: New Dean Nan Goggin came to IUPUI from the University of Illinois, where she was a professor of graphic design and served as director. Goggin also has been a visiting professor at American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Anita Harden, Madame Walker Theatre Center
Who she is: Harden was hired in 2016 as interim executive director to run day-to-day operations while the strategic planning committee figured out how to fund building repairs and sketch out an expanded mission.
Why she left/what’s next: Harden’s tenure with the organization was scheduled to end in June. The theater closed July 1 to undergo a $15 million renovation, and will reopen in late fall 2019 with a new strategic vision that encompasses arts and culture, entrepreneurship and financial literacy programming.
Who’s replacing her: The board and strategic planning committee are searching for a permanent leader.
Michael Bricker, People for Urban Progress
Who he is: Bricker helped spearhead People for Urban Progress, a nonprofit materials-reuse organization, from its inception in 2008. PUP is known for its RCA Dome bags, but under Bricker’s watch, it also has salvaged 9,000 Bush Stadium seats and nearly 5 miles of Super Bowl XLVI fabrics and vinyls.
What’s next: Bricker will stay on as director of public design. He stepped down from the top managerial role to focus more on designing, as well as his film career.
Who’s executive director now: Andrea Cowley, the former associate director of Dress for Success Indianapolis, took over as executive director in July.
Kat Coplen, NUVO
Who she is: Coplen became the Indianapolis alt-weekly newspaper’s editor-in-chief in 2016. The 29 year old joined the paper in 2011 after graduating from IU, and had previously served as senior editor and music editor. She was the first woman to lead the NUVO editorial team.
Why she left/what’s next: Washington, D.C. — and her long-term partner — were calling. Coplen took a job in communications at a research institution in the nation’s capital to be closer to him.
Who replaced her: Laura McPhee, who’d previously worked for NUVO as a senior editor and news editor from 2004 to 2011, took over the top role in January.
Shannon Williams, Indianapolis Recorder
Who she is: Williams held several positions with the African-American newspaper for 18 years — marketing manager, editor, vice president — before becoming president and general manager in 2010.
Why she left/what’s next: She’s joining The Mind Trust, a nonprofit education reform group, as senior vice president of community engagement. While Williams told the Indianapolis Business Journal in June that leaving the Recorder was like leaving family, she also said she looked forward to stepping into a position that will allow her to help children and advocate for minorities.
Who’s replacing her: Two people will take over Williams’s role: Robert Shegog, former director of operations at Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry, will become vice president and chief operating officer. Jose Lusende, the former director of advancement at Martin University, will be vice president of strategy and external relations.
Email IndyStar reporter Sarah Bahr at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @smbahr14.
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