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Edgar L. Smith, Jr. New Chair of Arts Board

Nolen Bivens, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), announces that its Board of Directors has unanimously elected longtime arts advocate and Board member Edgar L. Smith, Jr. as its next Chair. Smith assumes this new role, having served as a Vice Chair for five years and as former Chairman of the Executive Board of the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA) in New York, a division of AFTA.

Edgar L. Smith, Jr. New Chair of Arts Board

“We are so pleased that Edgar Smith has taken on the role of Board Chair at Americans for the Arts,” said Nolen Bivens, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Edgar deeply understands our work, mission, and desire to support the arts on all levels, from local to national.

As a collaborator and partner throughout his years on the Board, I know that Edgar has the vision and expertise to help lead AFTA into its next phase as we continue to build our memberships and advance our efforts to make sure that the arts are available to all.”

Edgar Smith’s commitment to the arts has been lifelong, intertwined with his community leadership roles over the span of his career. He has personally witnessed the arts’ capacity to drive positive social transformation.

His unwavering support for the arts is clearly demonstrated through his various past volunteer engagements, which include his service on the boards of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, as well as being a Life Trustee of ArtsWave, where he successfully served as Community Campaign Chair during its 2011 $11 million community arts campaign.

He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of World Pac Paper, LLC. With more than 25 years of experience with six leading Fortune 500 companies—lastly, as Vice President of National Sales with Coca-Cola North America—Smith has led his company to numerous awards and recognition, including by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

“It’s an honor for me to have been elected Chair of the AFTA Board,” said Edgar Smith. “Throughout my personal and professional life, the arts have been a constant for me, and the opportunity to serve Americans for the Arts in this leadership role is one that I cherish, because I know the positive impact that the arts can have on everyday life.

I look forward to working with my Board colleagues, staff, and leadership at AFTA to help support the arts in communities across our nation.”

Smith, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, is a graduate of Morehouse College with post-graduate professional development through Leadership Cincinnati, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Smith has served on several corporate boards and is an avid and engaged community leadership volunteer. He is a current Board member of Interlochen Center for the Arts, Equity Arc, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, as well as, a Life Associate Trustee of Marietta College.

Also newly elected to AFTA’s Board’s Executive Committee are Secretary Kristina Newman-Scott, an award-winning, purpose-driven leader and the inaugural Executive Director for The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at New York Public Radio.

Her past leadership positions include serving as President of BRIC, an art and media organization in Brooklyn; the Director of Culture for the State of Connecticut; Director of Programs at the Boston Center for the Arts; and Director of Visual Arts at Real Art Ways, and Treasurer Chris Cutler, who joined the Board as a Director and Chair of the Investment Committee in 2023.

He is the founder and president of investment consulting firm Manager Analysis Services, LLC, which evaluates alternative investment strategies and “Outsourced Chief Investment Officer” managers for renowned institutional clients, primarily in the endowment and foundation market.

Smith succeeds Julie Muraco as chair of the Americans for the Arts board, who created history by becoming the organization’s first female chair in over 60 years. During her six-year term, Muraco played a key role in recruiting a diverse range of leaders to the Board of Directors from all corners of the country.

As Chair, she steered the organization through the challenges of the pandemic, a leadership transition, and a significant Strategic Realignment Process. Her legacy is defined by a strong emphasis on bold transformation to meet the ever-evolving needs of the arts and cultural sector.

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