Kemper Museum announces new trustees, changes to governing board structure, and new status as public charity.

Kemper Museum announces new trustees, changes to governing board structure, and new status as public charity.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kemper Museum) is pleased to announce changes to its governing board structure and operations that strengthen the organization’s commitment to its mission to enrich lives through experiences with contemporary art in a free and welcoming environment for all. These changes were initiated in the Museum’s 2017 strategic plan to thoughtfully reflect its diverse community.

Kansas City-based artist Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard and urban planner Dr. Clara Irazábal, who both spent many years teaching at UMKC, and Duvel “DJ” Pierre, an attorney for a Kansas-City-based firm have joined Kemper Museum’s Board of Trustees. Together, they will bring important perspectives and experience to the Museum’s efforts to engage with the community.

Historically, the Kemper Museum governing structure included a Board of Trustees and an advisory Board of Directors that represented the broader community. In 2020, that hierarchy transitioned into a single Board of Trustees. As a result of this change, philanthropist and poet Lindsay Major and arts marketing and community engagement professional Consuelo Cruz continue their service as Trustees.

“We are thrilled to welcome these esteemed community leaders to the Museum’s Board of Trustees,” said Kemper Museum Executive Director Sean O’Harrow. “They each bring valuable experience and a deep commitment to our mission.”

Continuing Trustees include: Mary Kemper Wolf, Chair; L. Joshua Sosland, Vice-Chair; Bebe Hunt, Emerita, Co-Founder; William C. Gautreaux; Karen Holland; Alexander “Sandy” Kemper; Mariner Kemper; and Dennis Rilinger continues as Secretary; Clyde Wendel retired after eight years of service.

Additionally, Kemper Museum now operates as a public charity, which formally acknowledges its broad range of funding and community support. The Museum was originally established as a private foundation.

“From the very beginning, the vision for Kemper Museum has been to provide a free and open cultural resource for all,” said Mary Kemper Wolf. “My family and I are encouraged by the Museum’s widening base of public support, and I am honored to be a part of this critical moment for the Museum. I look forward to continuing to bring new voices to the Board of Trustees.”

“Kemper Museum will continue to prioritize an active and critical approach to its structures and practices to increase diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and belonging,” said O’Harrow. “With these changes, we are moving forward with a stronger, more inclusive board, representing a variety of perspectives to help meet today’s challenges and guide us into the future."

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art New Trustee Bios

Consuelo Cruz is the Marketing and Community Engagement Manager for Belger Cartage Service, Inc. and Belger Arts. She has more than fifteen years of experience forming and cultivating partnerships with diverse stakeholders in non-profit, corporate and government sectors. Cruz has served as Director of Latino Cultural Arts Division, Director of Development for Mattie Rhodes Center, an interpreter, an adjunct Spanish instructor, and as the Arts Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Culture and Creative Services, City of Kansas City, Missouri. She began her involvement with Kemper Museum when she trained to be a docent when transitioning from a career in the corporate world to the arts, where she found inspiration and fulfillment. She believes deeply in the value of the arts and education in bridging cultures and connecting communities. “The depth and variety of artists who are part of Kemper Museum’s collection and exhibitions are what make it unique in this city,” said Cruz. “It’s not about one medium, artist, art movement, or museum program. It’s everything. The contemporary nature of what’s presented and the priority given to more representation in the collection and in programming, create an inclusive and relevant visitor experience.”

An artist, photographer, design educator, and entrepreneur, Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard came to Kansas City in 2013 to head the Black Studies Program at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), where she introduced African American artists and cultural leadership in both historic and contemporary contexts into the curriculum and community engagement initiatives. Today, Dr. Hoard is focused on her two creative businesses, ART by ADRIENNE, LLC and HOMEGIRL, INC. A former Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Hoard has conducted research and taught at universities across the world, including in South Korea, South Africa, and Italy, among other locations. Her research and teaching focus on color theory, aesthetics, and psychology. “The arts provide aesthetic wellbeing for the community,” said Dr. Hoard. “Aesthetics can be a healing tool. You can feel better if you are engaging with contemporary art.” When she moved to Kansas City, Dr. Hoard began using Kemper Museum as a teaching resource with her students. Since then, she has contributed to docent training and given artist presentations.

Dr. Clara Irazábal is the Director of the Urban Studies and Planning Program in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. She has also been professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; Columbia University in New York; and University of Southern California, Los Angeles. In her research and teaching, she explores the interactions of culture, politics, and placemaking, and their impact on community development and socio-spatial justice in Latin American cities and US Latinx and immigrant communities. When Dr. Irazábal first arrived in Kansas City, she found community at Kemper Museum. Her husband became a docent, and she contributed to discussions to help the Museum with goals to expand vision and scope to be more inclusive, especially to people of color, both its audience and in the creators of the works on view. As the niece of a prominent Venezuelan artist, Fernando Irazábal, in the El Techo de la Ballena protest art movement, Dr. Irazábal has seen firsthand the potential of art in social justice efforts. “Art doesn’t have to speak to that all the time, but it’s very powerful when it does,” she said.

Lindsay Major is a poet, author, and lifelong member of the arts community in Kansas City. Major is nearing the completion of a biography of her aunt, Lindsay Hughes Cooper, who had a decades-long career with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, spanning from 1933 before the museum (then The Nelson Gallery) had opened, to World War II, when she served as acting curator of the museum’s renowned Asian art collection, and beyond. Major worked for Court Appointed Special Advocates for many years and has been a leader on the Kemper Museum Board of Directors since 2012. A close friend of Museum founders R. Crosby Kemper Jr. and Mary “Bebe” Hunt, Major saw firsthand the pride and fulfillment they found in building the collection and sharing their enthusiasm and appreciation for contemporary art with the Kansas City community.  “I know that the new Board of Trustees and the excellent staff of Kemper Museum will continue to expand and enhance the programs and the collection,” said Major. “They will bring new perspectives and vision that will keep this wonderful museum vital and vigorous for future generations.”

Duvel “DJ” Pierre is a Government Affairs and Litigation attorney with Spencer Fane and previously worked in high volume courtroom settings as a public interest attorney and prosecutor. A leader in the Kansas City community, Pierre has served on and led multiple community boards and task forces, including the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax Board, Mayor’s Citizen Task Force on Violence, Environmental Management Commission, Newhouse Shelter, Literacy Kansas City, and others. A longtime Kemper Museum visitor, Pierre understands the power of art to transform communities. “I grew up in Phoenix where Janet Echelman’s sculpture Her Secret Is Patience served as a catalyst for the growth of that city’s central core,” said Pierre. “Contemporary art is a reflection of creativity and expression first and foremost, but it’s something that I know can be the impetus for transformational change in a community as well.” On the Kemper Museum board of trustees, Pierre looks forward to helping expand the museum’s footprint and reach across Kansas City and beyond. 

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Louise Forster
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Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art | 816-457-6132 (direct)