The Erie Art Museum Board of Directors has selected Susan Black-Keim to serve as the museum’s interim director as it extends the timeline on its search for executive leadership to fill the opening left with the retirement of current director John Vanco. Black-Keim will assume the interim role on July 5, and remain in that leadership position for six months.
“The EAM Board of Director’s Transition Team conducted a national search that didn’t reveal the right match for a replacement for John, in part a reflection of the high standard the board has set for the next phase of EAM leadership,” said Stephen Porter, president of the EAM Board of Directors. “While we had hoped to jump right into new visionary leadership after John’s retirement, it is very common during director transitions to have a period of interim leadership to empower smooth operations—continuing organizational successes and momentum and paving the way for the next director.”
Black-Keim in no stranger to the essential role of interim leadership, having served as the interim Vice President of University Advancement for Edinboro University of Pennsylvania for several months in 2016. She is best known in the Erie region for her tenure as the Vice President of University Advancement for Gannon University, overseeing that university’s fundraising and alumni relations for nearly 10 years. While in that role, Black-Keim implemented a $40 million comprehensive fundraising campaign and managed a staff of 15.
“Joining the dedicated EAM staff and Board is a great opportunity to serve a place I love.” said Black-Keim, who served on the EAM Board of Directors for three years, including one year as president. “I have faith in the dedicated and highly involved board of directors now in place, and I am confident that working together we can keep our museum on track during the transition period.”
Porter added that the EAM board is confident that under the interim leadership of BlackKeim, and with the support of the museum’s current staff and new curator, Susan Barnett, the EAM will continue to deliver the high level of artistic programming the community expects. “We are a strong and vital community asset and we look forward to continuing as an integral part of the rebirth of Erie,” said Porter.
The EAM and Erie community celebrated 50 years of inspired leadership by Vanco— and his retirement—during the museum’s second annual Artrageous event on June 10, which brought more than 800 attendees to the museum grounds to enjoy art in all its forms, and to witness the renaming of Fifth Street between State and French as John Vanco Way.
Vanco has served as the EAM’s first and only director after being hired in 1968. Under his inspired leadership, the museum has evolved into a nationally respected museum and a cultural treasure for Erie and the northwestern Pennsylvania region.
Plans for the selection of and transition to a new director at the museum began nearly four years ago, with a formal transition team taking up the reins full-time last fall in order to facilitate the selection process for a new director.