Colette Pierce Burnette will assume the position Aug. 1. Chief Financial Officer Jerry Wise has been serving as interim president. Pierce Burnette will be the first Black woman to lead Newfields, according to the museum. Last year, Darrianne Christian became the first Black woman to be the chair of the Board of Trustees
“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,” Pierce Burnette said in a written statement.
“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.” To select its next leader, Newfields reported it examined a pool of more than 230 applicants, and it posted the position in partnership with consulting firm Korn Ferry.
Pierce Burnette, who is originally from Cleveland, is the president of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. She was selected as 2021 Austinite of the Year by the city's Chamber of Commerce to honor her work in education and as co-chair for the Mayor's Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities.
At Huston-Tillotson, her achievements include growing the university's endowment, starting new academic programs and partnering with companies including Apple and Indeed, according to a news release. She serves on boards including Leadership Austin, Waterloo Greenway Conservancy and the Austin Community Foundation.
“Dr. Burnette was a clear standout amongst an impressive slate," Christian stated in the release. "Her extensive professional achievements reflect her ability to deliver on her passion to innovate and advance the arts, education and green spaces. 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."