News About Former Ford Foundation Staff, Spring 2019
Emmett Carson has been hired as the chief operating officer of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, still under construction in Los Angeles and expected to be completed by 2021.
The museum has been founded by the filmmaker George Lucas, known especially for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series, and its construction, endowment and collections are being funded totally by the Lucas family.
When completed, the $1 billion project will include 300,000 square feet of building space surrounded by 11 acres of new park land and gardens.
The museum describes itself as a celebration of the “power of visual storytelling in a setting focused on narrative painting, illustration, photography, film, animation and digital art….One visit may change not only the way you think about museums but what you think art is.
“You’re already familiar with narrative art, because it’s the art that tells the stories you love. Our collection features the original, artist-made creations, from sketches to storyboards to sets and costumes from movies. And we showcase narrative art in paintings, illustrations, comic art, photography and many other media.”
The museum will feature, in addition to its collections, daily film screenings, film premieres, lectures, workshops, classes and school tours and programs.
Carson worked at the Ford Foundation from 1989 to 1994 in the Governance and Public Policy program. He left Ford to become CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation, and in 2006 was named the first chief executive of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which had been formed by merging two smaller grant makers.
He led Silicon Valley through a period of extraordinary growth, increasing its total assets to $13.5 billion primarily through donations from such technology leaders as Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook; Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter; and the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.
His role there ended a year ago, however, when he resigned following accusations by foundation employees that there was a “toxic culture of fear, blame and intimidation” at the institution. A study by the foundation’s board described “inappropriate racial and sexual comments and unacceptable behavior, such as berating and bullying.”
Though another high-ranking executive was accused directly of such behavior and resigned, Carson was placed on paid leave after staff members, in a letter to the board, said that “inaction” by “senior leadership….created and reinforced a toxic culture…”.
“We have full confidence in Emmett and his abilities,” said a spokesperson for the Lucas museum, “and believe he is an invaluable addition to the museum team and that he will help guide us on a successful path as we build a world-class institution.”
Courtney J. Martin is the new director of the Yale Center for British Art at Yale University. She has been deputy director and chief curator of the Dia Art Foundation.
“An esteemed scholar of historical and contemporary art,” said a statement from the university, “she will use her extensive experience in research, teaching and curation to further infuse the arts into the university’s work and shape the YCBA’s leadership in the field of British art.”
Martin had worked in the Media, Arts and Culture unit at the Ford Foundation before pursuing a doctorate in the history of art, which she received from Yale in 2009. Her research focused on twentieth century British art. She then conducted research and taught at Vanderbilt University before joining the faculty of Brown University as an assistant professor in the history of art and architecture department.
In 2015 she curated an exhibition of the American painter Robert Ryman at the Dia Art Foundation’s site in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, in New York City. Dia “is committed to initiating, supporting, presenting and preserving extraordinary art projects”.
Dia then hired Martin, in 2017, as deputy director and chief curator in its curatorial department. As an art historian of the “modern and contemporary fields, her scholarship is invested in the ways in which the post-1968 period altered art and artists internationally”.
Kavita Ramdas has been named by Apolitical as one of the 100 most influential people in gender policy, a list that includes former First Lady Michelle Obama, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Christine Lagarde, managing director and chairman of the International Monetary Fund.
Ramdas was named director of the Women’s Rights Program at the Open Society Foundations earlier this year after working at the Ford Foundation since 2012, when she became its representative in New Delhi.
While at Ford, she worked on issues of equity, inclusion, economic fairness, freedom of expression, human rights, sexuality and reproductive health and rights, transparency and accountable government, and sustainable development. She was a senior adviser to Ford’s president, Darren Walker, at the time she left, helping “integrate our commitment to justice in all our policies and practices”.
Apolitical is a Canadian-based “peer-to-peer learning platform for government” that created its influential-people list to “celebrate women and men making the world a more equitable place, where they do so through policymaking, research, philanthropy or advocacy”.