The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has selected Harold Steward (they/he) as Executive Director, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). They will begin their tenure on September 10, 2023.
Drawing on their diverse leadership experiences centered around historically marginalized communities, Steward will advance NEFA’s equity, diversity, and inclusion values. An innovative, forward-thinking leader and educator, well-versed in cultural strategy, Steward most recently served as Executive Director & Cultural Strategist at The Theater Offensive (TTO), a nonprofit theatrical organization dedicated to art by, for, and about queer and trans people of color. In this role, Steward developed a comprehensive organizational strategy and devised a business model to amplify the Boston-based nonprofit as a cultural influencer and agent of social change. They previously served as Managing Director at TTO and Manager at The South Dallas Cultural Center, a multi-disciplinary arts center that celebrates the creativity, vitality, and diversity of the African Diaspora.
In 2009, Steward founded Fahari Arts Institute in Dallas after recognizing a gap in the landscape for local LGBTQ+ artists of color. They are a member of the Board of Directors and Co-Chair of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Theater Communication Group. They also serve on the Board of the National Performance Network, MassCreative, and Black Theater Commons. Steward is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Theater Studies at Emerson College, where their current research interests include The Queer Trap Aesthetic in American Theatre and Identity Reclamation.
In making the announcement, NEFA Board Chair John Henry said, “We are delighted to have Harold join NEFA in this role. Their wealth of experience in the arts, cultural equity, leadership, strategy, and fundraising is essential to further NEFA’s mission to invest in artists and communities and foster equitable access to the arts. We are excited for the vision and energy that Harold will bring to our programs and services.”
“NEFA plays an important role in the cultural landscape of New England and nationally,” said Steward. “It is exciting to have this opportunity to lead an organization of this scale whose values align with my own, and where I can bring my experience to bear alongside the dedicated NEFA staff and board.”
“Congratulations to the NEFA board, staff, and artists on welcoming Harold as Executive Director,” said ACG Senior Vice President Wyona Lynch-McWhite. “Harold is an outstanding, thoughtful leader who is passionate about driving transformational change across the arts ecosystems. They are a deep advocate for the arts and will be a catalyst as NEFA continues to greatly contribute to the vibrancy of communities and lives in New England.”