United States Artists, a leading nonprofit that provides funding to artists, has named Judilee Reed as its next president and CEO. She will transition into her new role over the next few months and begin at the organization full-time on May 1. Jamie Bennett will continue to serve as interim president and CEO during this period.
Reed is currently the program director of creative communities for the William Penn Foundation, where she leads the organization’s arts and culture and public space grant portfolios in Philadelphia and its surrounding region. Previously she led the Thriving Cultures program at the New York–based Surdna Foundation and was also executive director of Leveraging Investments in Creativity.
“Arts and culture has been a very consistent through line but even more so arts and culture as it relates to artists and to communities across the United States,” Reed told ARTnews of her career. “Moving over to United States Artists is the dream job. I get to focus on the core element of what drives arts and culture sector in the United States, while also thinking about how to build from United States Artists’ position of strength in supporting artists across all stages of their careers and practices.”
At the William Penn Foundation, Reed’s division gave out more than $32 million every year to Philadelphia-based organizations. In 2019, she spearheaded an initiative to reframe the foundation’s grant-making process with a focus on racial equity and economic inclusion.
Since its founding in 2006, United States Artists has given out more than $36 million in direct support to over 750 artists, primarily through its signature annual fellowship program, which comes with $50,000 unrestricted grants in various disciplines. Recently, the organization has begun to expand its grant-making programs with funds being distributed for the Disability Futures fellowship, the Knight Arts + Tech Fellowship, the Rainin Fellowship for Bay Area artists, and Artist Relief (for pandemic-related income relief). Reed said she hopes to continue this growth as the foundation’s next leader.
“What I see when I look at United States Artists is an organization that has built from its strength and has maintained its core value in support of individual working artists in the United States to explore really critical issues: working artists with disabilities, ideas of arts and tech, ideas of how you think about the local and national interplay as it relates to resource infrastructures,” she said. “These are things that will continue at United States Artists and that will be a starting point from which to build.”
Though many cultural organizations returned to some state of normalcy in 2021, Reed said that artists continue to face difficulties. She said that United States Artists will review and analyze data related to its Artist Relief program. Because it can be more difficult to calculate the economic impact on individuals as opposed to organizations, “I don’t know that we understand the implications of all it yet,” she said. “It’s difficult to describe, for example, what the next big vision would be for United States Artists without first looking at what the current state is for working artists in the United States.”