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Yoko Ott, Executive Director of Portland’s Yale Union, Dies at 48

Yoko Ott.


Yoko Ott, who became executive director of the Portland, Oregon–based nonprofit contemporary-art center Yale Union in March, died on October 19 at 48, the institution said today. Reached by ARTnews this morning, a representative for Yale Union declined to discuss the cause of her death.

“She was categorically loved by both the staff and the board,” artist Aaron Flint Jamison, a cofounder of Yale Union and the president of its board, told ARTnews. “We all shared her vision.”

Prior to becoming director, Ott had served as a board member and deputy director at Yale Union. Before joining the institution, Ott was the founding director of the New Foundation Seattle, the executive director of the residency program Open Satellite, and manager of youth and community outreach programs at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle. She also held curatorial and leadership roles at the nonprofit organization One Reel, Seattle University, and the Honolulu Biennial Foundation.

According to Jamison, Yale Union has no immediate plans to make an appointment to fill Ott’s position. “Our mission hasn’t changed,” he said. “We’ll sort out a strategy and a plan as the grief lifts.”

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