Meet Our New Executive Director – Ben Garcia

Meet Our New Executive Director - Ben Garcia

(January 18, 2022 – New York, NY) – On our fifth anniversary, the American LGBTQ+ Museum’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce Ben Garcia (he/him) as our first Executive Director! 

Bringing more than 20 years of experience in museum leadership, development and intersectional LGBTQ+ advocacy, Ben 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 we work toward the opening of our physical home at the New-York Historical Society in 2024.

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Ben joins us 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. Ben also serves on the Board of Directors for Equality Ohio and the Association of Midwest Museums.

Ben’s work has been focused on equity, representation, and decolonization in museum administration, exhibitions, and development initiatives. Ben will be charged with developing the American LGBTQ+ Museum’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign to fund exhibitions, educational programs, and operations.

“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 February!”

“To lead the American LGBTQ+ Museum into this next phase is a dream realized,” said Ben Garcia, incoming Executive Director of the American LGBTQ+ Museum. “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.”

“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” added 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”

Additional Board of Directors and Search Committee Members added their praise:

“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. 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.”

– Surina Khan

American LGBTQ+ Museum Board Member and Co-Chair of the Search Committee

CEO, Women’s Foundation of California

“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. His ideas and intellect inspired all of us on the Board, and I can’t wait to start working with him!”

– Urvashi Vaid

American LGBTQ+ Museum Board Member and Search Committee Member

President, The Vaid Group

Leaders in museum and LGBTQ+ movement have already weighed in on his appointment:

“Congratulations to the American LGBTQ+ Museum on their selection of Ben Garcia as Executive Director! Ben is a fearless leader with a deep commitment to LGBTQ+ liberation. He is a visionary who will bring visibility and renewed energy to the vibrant, intersectional stories of LGBTQ+ people in the struggle for equality.”

– Alana Jochum

Executive Director, Equality Ohio

Board Chair, Equality Federation

 

“Ben Garcia has a successful track record of giving voice to marginalized communities in our American museums. He is a champion of bringing untold stories into the mainstream as an integral value in the way that museums serve society. In this new appointment to Executive Director of the American LGBTQ+ Museum, he can bring to bear his masterful skills in administration, advocacy, and coalition building.  Garcia’s inclusive leadership is perfectly matched for this exciting new museum. Congratulations!”

– Toni Guglielmo, Ph.D.

Director, Museum Leadership Institute

Claremont Graduate University

 

Please join us in warmly welcoming Ben!

After a national search led by Melissa Madzel, Stephen Milbauer, and Jason Mannino of Koya Partners, and a Search Committee composed of board members, Richard Burns (co-chair), Surina Khan (co-chair), Cortez Crosby, Letitia Gomez, Lyle Matthew Kan, Sonya Shields, Susan Stryker, and Urvashi Vaid, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to hire Ben as the museum’s first Executive Director. Ben will begin his tenure on February 14, 2022 and move to New York City with his husband Scott in the Spring of 2022.

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, we seek to advance LGBTQ+ equality through the lens of social justice movements, including, but not limited to, race, gender, class, immigration, and disability.

We envision a world in which all people work toward and experience the joy of liberation.