Studio Museum In Harlem Launches Arts Leadership Praxis: Empowering Professionals Of Color

April 2, 2024

Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, today announced the inauguration of the Museum’s Arts Leadership Praxis.

Praxis is an annual six-month program that provides professional development and cohort-building opportunities to cultural professionals of color and those deeply invested in Black cultural production who are approaching the early- to mid-career. Designed with the long-term goal of redressing inequities in arts institutions, the Arts Leadership Praxis joins a remarkable number of initiatives within the Studio Museum Institute—a suite of institutional programs that include internships, fellowships, the Museum Education Practicum, and the Museum Professionals Seminar—aimed at supporting artists, curators, educators, arts professionals, and students from diverse backgrounds.

The Arts Leadership Praxis is an unparalleled, Museum-initiated program conceived specifically to support curators with approximately five to seven years of experience in curatorial, education, or public programming positions in museums. Drawing from the Museum’s mission as the nexus for artists of African descent locally, nationally, and internationally, the program continues the institution’s longstanding role in cultivating the leaders and visionaries of tomorrow. 

Thelma Golden said, “The Studio Museum has long been committed to identifying and fulfilling educational and programmatic needs across the arts. In fact, this has been a driving undertaking for the Museum throughout its fifty-five-year history. Today we continue this legacy of changemaking by inaugurating the Arts Leadership Praxis and its class of eight outstanding participants. We do so in light of surveys conducted by both the Mellon Foundation and Museums Moving Forward, which found that too few people in museum leadership positions across the nation identify as people of color. I am especially thrilled to welcome this program on the heels of CCL/Studio Museum in Harlem Curators’ Forum, a collaboration between myself and Elizabeth W. Easton, the Director of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, that took place between 2021 and 2023.” 


The selection of the inaugural class’s eight New York-based participants occurred through nomination by experts in the field and an application process. In 2025, the annual program will expand to include professionals across the nation.

Participants in the first Arts Leadership Praxis class are: 

  • Deja Belardo, Assistant Curator, The Shed 
  • Meredith Breech, Associate Director of Exhibitions, Fotografiska 
  • Carla Forbes, Curatorial Assistant, Brooklyn Museum 
  • Margarita Lila Rosa, Independent Curator 
  • Jenée-Daria Strand, Assistant Curator, Public Art Fund 
  • Tsige Tafesse, Curatorial Fellow, The Kitchen; Program Manager, Processing Foundation 
  • Gee Wesley, Curatorial Assistant, MoMA 
  • Imani Williford, Curatorial Assistant, Brooklyn Museum

The initial meeting of the 2024 Arts Leadership Praxis was held in late January. Since then, the cohort has had the opportunity to experience a handful of programs that include: focused conversations with leading curators; a group trip to Los Angeles for exploring various models and networks of arts organizations at the Frieze art fair, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Hammer Museum; studio visits with notable artists in the Museum’s ecosystem; and in-person, intensive three-day workshops. The conclusion of this year’s program, scheduled for June 2024, includes a networking event with alumni of the Studio Museum Institute. Until then, the cohort will continue to receive individual mentorship, professional development workshops, and seminars led by renowned curators. 


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The Arts Leadership Praxis program is funded in part by the Ford Foundation.

The Studio Museum in Harlem 

Founded in 1968 by a diverse group of artists, community activists, and philanthropists, the Studio Museum in Harlem is internationally known for its catalytic role in promoting the work of artists of African descent. The Studio Museum is now constructing a new home at its longtime location on Manhattan’s West 125th Street. The building—the first created expressly for the institution’s program—will enable the Studio Museum to better serve a growing and diverse audience, provide additional educational opportunities for people of all ages, expand its program of world-renowned exhibitions, effectively display its singular collection, and strengthen its trailblazing Artist-in-Residence program. 

While the Museum is closed for construction, its groundbreaking exhibitions, thought-provoking conversations, and engaging art-making workshops continue at a variety of partner and satellite locations in Harlem and beyond.

For more information, visit studiomuseum.org

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube: @studiomuseum

Photo credit: (L From Left to Right) Deja Belardo, Margarita Lila Rosa, Tsige Tafesse, Carla Forbes, Meredith Breech, Gee Wesley, Imani Williford, and Jenée-Daria Strand. Photo: Naima Green.


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