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Corrections & clarifications: A previous version of this story said Dr. Burnette resigned her position. No explanation for her departure was given.
After 15 months serving as president and CEO of Newfields, Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has abruptly left her position. No explanation for her departure was given in a news release issued Friday evening.
The Board of Trustees has appointed Michael Kubacki, Chairman of Lake City Bank and its holding company, Lakeland Financial Corporation, as interim president and CEO.
Kubacki has been a member of the Newfields Board of Trustees from 2014-2023 and served as its vice chair from May 2021-May 2023.
“We thank Dr. Burnette for her service to Newfields,” said Newfields Board of Trustees Chair Darrianne Christian in the news release. “She helped deepen our relationships with the community and championed the transformative powers of art and nature. We are grateful for her work on behalf of Newfields and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Pierce Burnette began her role at Newfields in August 2022 and was 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
Their hiring had signaled a watershed moment for Newfields after public outcry in February 2021 over an Indianapolis Museum of Art director job post that sought to maintain the organization’s “traditional, core, white art audience” while diversifying patrons.
The fallout included open letters from employees and the art community with lists of demands, the resignation of then-President Charles Venable and an apology signed by bothboards.
The board promised change and Newfields hired Pierce Burnette after examining a pool of more than 230 applicants and posting the position in partnership with consulting firm Korn Ferry.
More: New Newfields CEO Colette Pierce Burnette talks about her plans, director search and more
Pierce Burnette, who is originally from Cleveland, is the former 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.
Board members expressed their support of Kubacki as their hunt for a new president and CEO begins anew.
“Mike has a track record as a successful leader and manager in both the public and private sectors, deep knowledge of Newfields, and a passion for our mission,” said Christian. “We have every confidence in him, and he is fully supported by the Board of Trustees and Newfields’ senior leadership. We are moving ahead and looking forward to the future.”
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John Tufts covers evening breaking and trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at JTufts@Gannett.com.
IndyStar reporter Domenica Bongiovanni contributed to this article. Contact her at 317-444-7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @domenicareports.