The ArtTable Chapter Leadership Award: Honoring Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole
ArtTable was honored to award our Chapter Leadership Award to Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director emerita of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art.
Dr. Cole is an American anthropologist, educator, museum director, and college president. The DC chapter is proud to honor this dynamic and ground-breaking leader, arts supporter, and mentor. She is currently a principal consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm that provides solutions to organizations in the areas of diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, leadership development, and organizational change management. Before assuming her current position, she served for eight years as the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. Cole was the first female African-American president of Spelman College, a historically black college, serving from 1987 to 1997. She was president of Bennett College from 2002 to 2007.
Juanita Hardy, Collector of fine arts and advocate for the arts, introduced Dr. Cole warmly, as a close friend and source of inspiration. Dr. Cole then spoke about her life long love affair with the arts, which the Smithsonian Museum of African Art allowed her to return to. In fact, she dreamt of becoming a docent before becoming the top candidate for Director. Dr. Cole urged attendees to push themselves and their organizations to strive for equity. Makeba Clay, Chief Diversity Officer of The Phillips Collection and mentee of Dr. Cole then led attendees in a celebratory toast of a phenomenal woman.
If you are interested in Dr. Cole's current work, we recommend reading Cook Ross, Inc.'s recent thought paper "Telling All Our Stories: 10 Steps to Greater Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in Museums," written by Dr. Cole and Natalya Khashan.