Walker Art Center announced that Seena Hodges has been elected president of its board of trustees, marking the first time a person of color has held this position.
"In 2021, it might be hard to believe that we are still having firsts," Hodges said in an email to the Star Tribune. "But the important thing to remember about firsts is that they are the greatest indicator of progress."
Hodges, a people person and lover of art, equity, intersectional feminism and more, is the founder of Woke Coach, a business focused on engaging clients in diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism and empowerment. The name "Woke Coach" came to her in a dream, and the business' flagship program is called "From Ally to Accomplice," helping people figure out where to start with their anti-racist work.
Before that dream became a reality, she worked in marketing and communication at the Guthrie Theater, Theater Latté Da and the St. Paul & Minnesota Community Foundation. She joined the Walker board in 2017 after co-chairing Avant Garden, the museum's annual fundraising gala. The year before, she initiated the Walker's BIPOC Artist Fund, and has helped provide Walker memberships to local artists of color.
"Seena Hodges is exactly the right leader for the Walker in this moment as we embark on a new strategic plan that focuses on connecting the brilliant creativity of artists to the lived experiences of our audiences," said Walker executive director Mary Ceruti.
In another first for the Walker, the board's newly elected officers are all women, including Vice Presidents Karen Heithoff and D. Ellen Wilson, Treasurer Sarah Lynn Oquist, and Secretary Teresa Rasmussen.
"Making history and ascending to new heights is something that the Walker Art Center has always been known for," said Hodges. "That is what attracted me to the organization and led to my joining the board of trustees."
Born in New Jersey and raised in South Carolina, Hodges is a member of the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, and is currently working on her first book, "From Ally to Accomplice: How to Lead as a Fierce Antiracist," to be published in early 2022.
She replaces former president John Christakos, founder and CEO of Blu Dot, who served for three years. He remains on the board and will serve on the executive committee.