The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Freedom Center) has selected Dion Brown as President, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). He will begin his tenure on February 26, 2018. Mr. Brown steps in following the 2017 retirement of former President and current board member Dr. Clarence G. Newsome.
Mr. Brown brings a wealth of museum, management, and branding experience to the Freedom Center, serving most recently as the founding Executive Director of the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. Recognized by CNN, National Geographic, and the New York Post as a must-see museum, Mr. Brown helped the new start-up flourish since its founding in 2015. Under his leadership, he has helped raise funds, balance the budget, and expand museum programming, tours, and attendance. Prior to his leadership at the National Blues Museum, he held roles as Executive Director of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Mississippi and as Chief Operating Officer of Exploration Place in Kansas. While at Exploration Place, Mr. Brown was responsible for directing a staff of more than 70 people and managing day-to-day operations of the museum and its $5 million budget.
Mr. Brown holds a certificate of fundraising from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, a bachelor of science in human resources, and a master of science in leadership from Southwestern College. In addition to being named by Delta Business Journal as one of its 2013 Top Minority Business Leaders, Mr. Brown is a retired member of the United States Air Force, after 21 years of service.
In making the announcement, Board Chair Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr. said, “On behalf of the board of directors, we are pleased to welcome Dion to the Freedom Center. His experience, leadership, and vision will drive the organization forward for years to come.”
“The Freedom Center’s role in Greater Cincinnati—and the nation—cannot be understated,” says Elizabeth Pierce, CEO of both Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Dion’s passion for the mission and dedication to community building gives me great confidence and excitement for the future.”
“It’s an honor to join and lead the Freedom Center at this point in my career,” said Mr. Brown. “Given the challenges our society is facing, on many fronts, the mission of this vital institution is relevant now more than ever in bringing diverse points of view together in constructive dialogue.”
“We wish the best of luck to Dion Brown as he assumes the role of President at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,” said ACG Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “Mr. Brown’s expertise in building relationships with key stakeholders, leading museum projects, and setting strategic organizational goals will be essential as he works to shape a vision for the Freedom Center’s future. He is a dedicated leader with a passion and appreciation for cultural history, freedom, and social justice, which are at the heart of the organization’s mission. ACG is confident that he will work with the Freedom Center board and the leadership of the Cincinnati Museum Center to guide the organization into the next phase of its journey, with a shared vision and a common purpose, as it approaches its 15th anniversary.”