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Barnes Foundation Names Valerie Gay as Deputy Director for Audience Engagement and Chief Experience Officer

Valerie Gay.


Valerie Gay, who most recently served as executive director of the nonprofit Art Sanctuary in Philadelphia, joins the city’s Barnes Foundation this month as deputy director for audience engagement and chief experience officer.

In her new role, Gay will oversee public and community programs, lead the visitor experience team, and grow the institution’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. She will also develop on-site and online opportunities for visitor engagement.

While working at Art Sanctuary, which focuses on “the unique community-building power of black art,” Gay directed the organization’s educational programming, fund-raising, fiscal operations, marketing, and communications.

She previously served as an assistant dean for institutional advancement for Temple University’s College of Education and, in 2006, she founded the nonprofit Fortress Arts Academy to provide arts lessons to children and adults in underserved communities. She is also a co-founder of the Ever Ensemble of women musicians and the firm Davis Gay + Associates, which supports nonprofit and social-venture organizations.

Gay said in a statement, “I am thrilled to join the Barnes Foundation, with its inspiring dedication to education and historical commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice. With the legendary art collection and educational mission at its heart, the Barnes is filled with incredible opportunities for meaningful visitor engagement.”

Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation, added, “Val’s background and service to the Philadelphia community align seamlessly with the Barnes’s democratic and inclusive ‘art for all’ philosophy. She will play a crucial role in deepening the Barnes’s connections with our visitors and the community at large, and I look forward to working closely with her to amplify our impact within Philadelphia and beyond.”

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