Diversity Mentoring Initiative

Andrea Bayer_Posse Scholars
Andrea Bayer, Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, introduces Posse Foundation scholars to the Met's paintings conservation studio. Photo courtesy of Andrea Bayer

About the Initiative

CCL launched a diversity mentoring initiative in 2012 to expand the demographic of art museum leaders. Each year curators participating in the core CCL fellowship identify students from underrepresented groups in their local communities who have shown interest in the arts or museums and introduce them to the activities of a curator or museum employee.

CCL fellows meet with leaders in the field of mentoring; Matthew Fasciano, Chief Operating Officer of the Posse Foundation; Kitty Kolbert, Director of Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies; Joe Hall, President of the Ghetto Film School; and John Rice, Founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow. Each encounter inspires new approaches for engaging young people from diverse groups.  

We will continue to address the crucial issue of diversity in art museums and expand our programming so that we can become a model for outreach within the field.

Resulting Projects

Fellow's projects have ranged from prolonged on-on-one mentorships, to wider community enterprises and organizational partnerships. Examples include:

  • Elizabeth Finch (CCL ’12), Curator of American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, established an ongoing partnership between the Posse scholars at Colby College and the museum.  
  • Martha Tedeschi (CCL ’12), Deputy Director for Art and Research at the Art Institute of Chicago, partnered with the Marwen Foundation to create a permanent paid student internship at the museum for students from underserved communities in Chicago.
  • Andrea Bayer (CCL ’12), Curator of European Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, introduced Posse Foundation scholars to the Met’s curatorial departments and conservation studios.
  • Rebecca Rabinow (CCL ’13), Leonard A. Lauder Curator of Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, created workshops for students from the Ghetto Film School to focus on strategies for looking at art and connecting it to their filmmaking.  
  • René Paul Barilleaux (CCL’15) Head of Curatorial Affairs at the McNay Art Museum in San Antoni Texas, mentored a colleague from the museum’s admission desk. Having completed a BA, the young man hoped to attend graduate school and continue museum work. René developed an individualized structure to support the student in his goals: 1) weekly meetings at the museum, 2) maintaining an activities log, 3) weekly journaling of experiences, perceptions, and reflections, 4) in-person “shadowing” at events around the city, and 5) creating a capstone project. After the mentorship, the mentee began graduate studies in art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Xavier Salomon (CCL ’15), Chief Curator of the Frick Collection, established a partnership with the Ghetto Film School (GFS) as result of the CCL Diversity Mentoring Initiative. The collaboration brought GFS students from the South Bronx to the Frick, where Mr. Salomon gave private lectures on the collection and how art conveys visual narratives. The Frick Collection will serve as the filming location for the 2015 GFS thesis film, which premiered in February 2016.
  • Caroline Campbell (CCL’16) Head of the Curatorial Department and Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 at the National Gallery, London, collaborated with local churches in the ethnically and socially diverse community of central South-East London. Activating the Southwark Diocese and the NGA’s collection of largely Christian-based art, she initiated a series 'art pilgrimages' to bring young people in the museum for the first time to expose them to prospects of a curatorial careers. The initiative has since grown across lunch to include more places of worship and collections.
  • Amy Landau (CCL ’17) Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Islamic and South/Southeast Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum developed a partnership between the museum and a local non-profit Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE) to roll out an ongoing community-based project Baltimore Refugees: Museum-Based Discussions.
  • Emily Hannah (CCL ’17) Senior Curator and Department Head of Africa and the Americas at the Birmingham Museum of Art committed to strengthening connections between her museum and local HBCU Miles College. In addition to ensuring a paid internship position, she and the selected intern worked together to increase the visibility and impact of an annual Miles College Night at the BMA, both at school and within the museum.
  • Thomas Lax, (CCL’17) Associate Curator of Media and Performance Art at MoMA, collaborated with Judson Memorial Church's program Sonic Youth program. Inspired by his exhibition, “Judson Dance Theater The Work Is Never Done”, Lax lead a series of student tours and conversations focused on art that in some ways considers questions of religion, such as Kara Walker's "40 Acres of Mules" and Iman Issa's "Heritage Series" sculptures.
  • William Roudolph (CCL ’17) Andrew W. Mellon Chief Curator and Marie and Hugh Halff Curator of American Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art, partnered with the Pride Center of San Antonio. Together they developed a series of both off-site and on-site events to serve San Antonio's LGBT community—particularly elder members of the community, who have been identified in community focus sessions conducted by the Center as being vulnerable to social isolation and a lack of lifelong educational and cultural activities.
  • Ethan Lasser (CCL ’18) Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art and the Head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums, expanded the scope of his Winslow Homer exhibition by partnering with local public-school Cambridge Rindge and Latin. Junior and senior advanced painting students participated in a semester-long project based on Homer’s work and Lasser’s upcoming exhibition. They had opportunity to learn about the artist as well as to be exposed to the possibility of a museum career, from curatorial to public programming, and conversation.
  • José Carlos Diaz (CCL ’18) Chief Curator at The Andy Warhol Museum launched that museum’s first paid internship program, including strategizing about publicizing the opportunity, attracting candidates outside of a typical Art History background, reviewing applications, and crafting a positive and impactful experience for the selected student.

Alumni Reflections

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to become a mentor. Working with my mentee Taylor (a ninth-grade student from Baltimore) was an extremely rewarding way to think about how to engage her generation in the museum. Most significantly, it highlighted the importance of personal relationships in shaping one's intellectual future, if not one's career path.” 



“In CCL, I was encouraged to learn practical skills, but I was also given the time, space, and input to think about the larger shape of the museum field and to contemplate what kind of leadership role I wanted to play. I came away with the conviction that mentoring the next generation of museum professionals, and helping to open the field to a more diverse range of people, would become my primary mission.”

—Martha Tedeschi (CCL '12), Deputy Director of Art and Research, Art Institute of Chicago