August 2, 2021

The M is seeking a seasoned, energetic Executive Director who can immediately step into a critical juncture in the M’s organizational development. The path forward requires a timely push to complete the new facility’s capital campaign; reopen the museum’s existing galleries; and plan, fund, and launch a robust, innovative pipeline of new programming in collaboration with the staff, board, and community. 


The M has engaged 8 Bridges Workshop, a St. Paul based consulting firm supporting the work of The M’s search committee and board of directors. 

To apply, submit a letter detailing your interest in this position and how you believe you meet the qualifications and include a short resume or a link to your LinkedIn profile. Applications and inquiries should be sent to theMsearch@8BridgesWorkshop.com.

The position is open until filled. Start date is flexible; ideally candidates will begin employment no later than November 1, 2021. Application review will begin on September 7, 2021.

The M shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, marital or familial status, membership or activity in a local human rights commission, disability, status with regard to public assistance or veteran status. 


Dear Friends of the M,

I am pleased to announce that the M (Minnesota Museum of American Art) has launched the public phase of its search for the next Executive Director.

The M’s Executive Director Search Committee has already been hard at work for several months, crafting the position description and selecting a professional advisor to guide the search process. At the Search Committee’s recommendation, the M Board of Directors has retained 8 Bridges Workshop of St. Paul as the search advisor. 

The volunteer members of the Search Committee, together with several volunteer advisors to the committee, were selected to achieve a balance of representation from the board, staff, artists, community partners, and diverse audiences of the M, as well as individuals with experience in leadership roles in museums and arts organizations at the local, regional, and national levels. We are so grateful to this group of people for their commitment to this important process.

This is an amazing time for the M—the future is bright and the M is bold! We’ve just launched an ambitious biennial, are moving forward with the final phase of the building expansion project, and remain committed to fulfilling our mission of exploring American identities and experiences through art and creativity. 

I hope you will share this announcement with your network and help us recruit the next leader for our dynamic organization.


Ann Ruhr Pifer
Chair, Board of Directors

The M ED Search Committee has received many applications since the search was announced on August 3rd, and has begun the process of selecting candidates to be interviewed. Applications are still being accepted, and interested candidates are encouraged to submit their application no later than September 6, 2021. Preliminary interviews are expected to take place during the month of September.

“We are grateful to the many friends and supporters of the M who have shared the position announcement with their networks across the U.S., and who have contacted us to suggest potential candidates,” said Search Committee Chair Ann Pifer. “Your continued efforts to spread the word about this opportunity will help us to identify the best possible candidates for this position.”



Dr. Brenda J. Child
Professor, University of Minnesota

Brenda is Northrop Professor of American Studies and former chair of the Departments of American Studies and the Department of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota. She is the author of award-winning books of American Indian history. She served as a member of the board of trustees of the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian and was President (2017-2018) of the Native American & Indigenous Studies Association. Child was born on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota where she served as a member of a committee writing a new constitution for the 12,000-member nation.

Jim Denomie

Primarily a painter, Jim also works in printmaking, photography, ink drawings and found object sculpture. His narrative paintings focus mainly on political, social, cultural and personal events (both current and historical) pertaining to Native American issues and his personal identity. He has been awarded numerous fellowships, including a Bush Fellowship, two McKnight Fellowships, a Joan Mitchell Fellowship, and a McKnight Distinguished Artist Award.

Aurea Gerard
Philanthropic Advisor, St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation

Aurea joined the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation in 2012 with her a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector, especially in the areas of project management and development. Aurea studied at the University of Saint Thomas and holds an associate and bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in metaphysical science.

Nathan Johnson
Architect, 4RM+ULA

Nathan Johnson, AIA, NOMA, is a partner in the architecture firm 4RM+ULA. The firm’s mission is to reimagine cities and neighborhoods, reunite architecture and art, design spaces that respond to community, climate, and context, and create high-quality architecture in underrepresented communities typically underserved by design professionals. Nathan is also an instructor at the Minneapolis College (MCTC).

Aaron Johnson-Ortiz
Director of Arts & Cultural Engagement, CLUES

Aaron Johnson-Ortiz holds a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Originally from St Paul, Minnesota, Aaron grew up in Mexico and Guatemala. Aaron has 10 years of experience as a community organizer, a community-engaged artist, and an arts administrator. At CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas in Servicio), he serves as Director of Arts & Cultural Engagement, and through that work engages and uplifts Latino artists, curates the Latino Art Gallery at CLUES in St Paul, and leads arts and cultural engagement programming. Aaron is also an award-winning muralist, a bi-national, bi-cultural, and Chicano/Latino artist.

Laura Joseph
The M Curator of Exhibitions

Laura is a curator interested in collaborative, experimental, and interdisciplinary methods. Through her work, she seeks to draw attention to what is at the margins and in the shadows, with a particular investment in emotion, materiality, and embodiment. Some of her curatorial projects include Harriet Bart: Abracadabra and Other Forms of Protection (Weisman Art Museum), Testify: Americana from Slavery to the Present (Hennepin County Library), and A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde (Mary and Leigh Block Museum). Before coming to the M, Laura worked alongside artists with disabilities at Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts to challenge perceptions of disability. She has a PhD from the University of Minnesota where she specialized in contemporary art.

Ann Ruhr Pifer
The M Board Chair, Executive Director AdoptAClassroom.org

Ann Pifer is Chair of the Board of the M, and Chair of the Search Committee. Pifer was a member of the M Board from 2010-2019, and returned to the Board in July 2020. She is Executive Director of the national nonprofit AdoptAClassroom.org, based in Minneapolis. Previously, Pifer was the founder and owner of The Grand Hand Gallery in St. Paul, MN, and prior to that had a 15-year career in corporate banking in New York City and in the Twin Cities. She serves as a board member and Treasurer of Craft in America, and previously served on the boards of St. Paul Academy and Summit School, and Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow.

Ginger Shulick Porcella
Executive Director & Chief Curator of Franconia Sculpture Park

Ginger Shulick Porcella currently serves as the Executive Director and Chief Curator of Franconia Sculpture Park. She holds an M.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University and a B.A. in Art History from DePaul University. She was previously the Executive Director and Chief Curator of MOCA Tucson, Executive Director of the San Diego Art Institute, and the Executive Director of Art Connects New York. She has curated critically acclaimed exhibitions such as: Cyclic with Cassils and Ron Athey; Blessed Be: Mysticism, Spirituality and the Occult in Contemporary Art; Dazzled: and OMD, Memphis Design and Beyond.

Lisa Tabor
Founder and Principal of CultureBrokers LLC

Lisa is a consultant who works with business, government, and nonprofit clients to deliver results-based cultural inclusion, diversity, and race equity. She has previously served as Secretary of NAACP St. Paul, as President of the Arts and Culture Partnership of St. Paul, and worked with Visit St. Paul (St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau), and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

Xavier Tavera

Xavier Tavera is a photographer, community organizer, and teaching artist. Born in Mexico City and based in Minneapolis since 1996, Tavera best known for his nuanced portraits of members of the Latino community. These powerful pictures challenge our notions of race, gender, and class by subverting stereotypes and capturing the humor and pathos in identity itself.  Viewers who carefully examine these images can expect to question their own assumptions, biases and prejudices. Tavera has shown his work extensively in the Twin Cities, nationally, and internationally, including Chile, Uruguay and China.

Mai Nhia Vang Huizel
Hmong Museum Interim Executive Director

Huizel is a passionate museum enthusiast with experience in museum and collections management. Mai holds a M.S. degree in Anthropology and a Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is founder of Hmong Museum in St. Paul, MN and currently working at the Minnesota Historical Society managing volunteers.

Patty Dunlap Whitaker
The M Board Member

Patty Dunlap Whitaker is a retired marketing and communications executive with extensive experience in web content, print media, and advertising. She is the former Manager of Corporate Communications for Securian Financial, where she was responsible for internal communications, the annual meeting, and annual report. Prior to that, she was with Target Corporation as lead web writer and editor for the Marshall Field’s website.


Dr. Herman J. Milligan, Jr. – Managing Partner, The Fulton Group, LLC (Minneapolis); retired Vice President Wells Fargo Enterprise Marketing, Customer Insights & Analysis (Minneapolis/San Francisco); Ford Foundation Fellow in Music, Center for Contemporary Music/Mills College (Oakland); former Board of Directors, Minnesota Museum of American Art (St. Paul); Panelist for National Endowment for the Arts (Washington, D.C.), Minnesota State Arts Board (St. Paul); Arts Midwest (Minneapolis), and CEC ArtLink (New York); Board Volunteer service across U.S. and London (UK); Curator, artist, author, musician, and composer.

Dr. Patricia Marroquin Norby – Associate Curator of Native American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York); former Senior Executive and Associate Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (New York); former Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at The Newberry (Chicago).

Chanida Phaengdara Potter – Executive Director of The SEAD Project (Minneapolis); two-time chair of the National Lao American Writers Summit; co-founder of the online publication Little Laos on the Prairie; and she serves on the board of the Twin Cities Media Alliance. Potter collaborated with the M on the recent exhibition “1.5: A Southeast Asian Diaspora Remix.”

Colleen Sheehy – President and Executive Director, Public Art St. Paul; former Director and CEO, Plains Art Museum (Fargo); former Director of Education, Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis).

Dean Sobel – Associate Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, University of Denver, and former Director, Clyfford Still Museum (Denver), and former Director / Chief Curator, Aspen Art Museum (Aspen).

Banner image credit:

George Morrison (1919-2000)
Cumulated Landscape, 1976
Wood collage
48 x 120 x 3 inches
Collection, Minnesota Museum of American Art