Newfields in Indianapolis has named Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette as its next president and chief executive officer 14 months after the resignation of former CEO Charles Venable. Pierce Burnette most recently served as CEO of Huston-Tillotson University in Texas.
The art museum says during her time at the historically Black university, Pierce Burnette oversaw “significant growth” in the university’s endowment and the launch of new academic programs.
Darrianne Christian, chair of the Newfields Board of Trustees, says Pierce Burnette was a clear standout among an impressive slate of more than 230 leaders throughout the country.
“Her extensive professional achievements reflect her ability to deliver on her passion to innovate and
advance the arts, education and green spaces,” Christian said in written remarks. “She is lauded by her staff, peers and the communities she served for being a humble leader with an immense amount of respect and empathy for everyone she encounters. Her legacy has been to elevate the beloved institutions she’s led into stronger more inclusive organizations that others seek to emulate.”
Venable resigned in February 2021 after a controversial job posting that listed “maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience” as part of the position’s duties. The posting was later changed to remove the word “white.”
Newfields Chief Financial Officer Jerry Wise has served as interim CEO since Venable’s resignation.
Last year, the Austin Chamber of Commerce named Pierce Burnett the Austinite of the Year, the chambers highest honor. The chamber recognized her for her commitment to education and her work as co-chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities.
“I’ve seen the nurturing and transformative power of cherished institutions like Newfields. I am thrilled to become part of a team driven to meet Newfields’ mission of enriching lives purposefully and intentionally through exceptional experiences with art and nature,” said Pierce Burnette. “I believe strongly in service, and I am excited to lead Newfields at this unique moment to make it a place every person in Indianapolis and beyond is excited to visit, and every team member is proud to work.”
She will begin her new role August 1.