Join Us in Our Bold Pursuits

As we deepen our focus on equity and social impact

Harold Steward | photo by Jeffrey Filiault/NEFA

Harold is a Black man. He wears a white cap with "Art" in place of the word "Marlboro" in a Marlboro cigarette logo.
Executive Director

As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.

-Toni Morrison

When I got the call from the recruiter informing me that I had been chosen to become the next Executive Director of the New England Foundation for the Arts, she said that the search committee understood me to be a bold leader and the organization was ripe for bold leadership at this moment. I understood those sentiments to be both an invitation and a charge, mainly because I knew that chief among my duties was to lead the organization in a new strategic planning process. So, the inspiration to be bold and think boldly came right from the start.

During my nearly 20-year career in arts administration, I have learned that moving boldly is often risky at first; however, with proper planning, care, conviction, and flexibility, bold moves become some of our most innovative and rewarding moves, and strategic impact is directly connected to bold choices. It is never really clear what to initiate first in one’s quest to lead boldly, and it leaves many leaders confused about how to start. However, Toni Morrison encourages individuals in my situation to dream first and think later.

Six folks of color pose together, holding mini statues.
Celebration of Leadership honorees, from left: Andre Rochester, Randall Nielsen, Jordia Benjamin, Kia'Rae Hanron, Harold Steward, and Adam Chuong (not pictured: Lexy Lattimore)  | photo by Ann Wicks/NEFA

For months now, we have been working on strategic planning and living in the space of dreaming up the next iteration of NEFA. Through surveys and conversations with multiple creatives, culture bearers, and colleagues in our field, it has become evident to me that if we are not dreaming up ways to be deeply transformative at this moment, then we must continue to guide our imagination towards ideation for radical change. That’s what’s required of us, especially today.

I have also learned that boldness loves company. Therefore, I was so grateful for the opportunity to gather in early April for NEFA’s Celebration of Leadership where we honored the six inaugural National Leaders of Color Fellows from New England, and you graciously welcomed me into the NEFA community. If you weren't there, we hope you can join us next time!

As we at NEFA design a new strategic plan that will guide our organization’s evolution for the next several years, emerging themes are a deepened focus on equity and social impact through our work. Our Celebration of Leadership reinforced just how important it is that NEFA ensures resources reach communities and artists who are working at the intersection of these values.

In a spotlight, a Black woman plays the cello amongst an orchestra.
New England States Touring-supported Bombyx Center for Arts and Equity presents Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp | photo courtesy of Cedric Pilard of Story Eyed Media

Join us in our bold pursuits. 

Your gift before the end of our fiscal year on May 31 provides the unrestricted resources we need to flexibly and equitably support creativity in our region and beyond. You may donate online securely at


I look forward to staying in touch with you, and to sharing the results of our strategic planning process later this year. Thank you for being in this work with us!

In cultural stewardship,

Harold Steward
Executive Director

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