The New England Foundation for the Arts Names Harold Steward as Next Executive Director

Harold Steward | photo by Pat Piasecki

(Boston, MA) The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) announced that Harold Steward (they/he) will join the organization as the next executive director.

Steward, a modern philosopher, strategist, and educator, is currently the executive director & cultural strategist at The Theatre Offensive (TTO), a Boston-based nonprofit organization that presents liberating art by, for, and about queer and trans people of color that transcends artistic boundaries, celebrates cultural abundance, and dismantles oppression. They previously served as manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center, which provides instruction and enrichment in the arts with an emphasis on the African contribution to world culture. They will officially join NEFA on July 10, 2023.

“We are delighted to have Harold join NEFA in this role,” said NEFA board chair John Henry. “Their wealth of experience in the arts, cultural equity, leadership, strategy, and fundraising is essential to further NEFA’s mission to invest in artists and communities and foster equitable access to the arts. We are excited for the vision and energy that Harold will bring to our programs and services.” 

“NEFA plays an important role in the cultural landscape of New England and nationally,” said Harold Steward. “It is exciting to have this opportunity to lead an organization of this scale whose values align with my own, and where I can bring my experience to bear alongside the dedicated NEFA staff and board.”

Steward’s appointment follows an extensive nationwide search led by a search committee, co-chaired by NEFA board members Carrie Zaslow and Michael Bobbitt, working with Arts Consulting Group. Steward will succeed Cathy Edwards, who held the role from January 2015 until she stepped down in May 2022. Since then, NEFA has been led by interim executive director/COO Jug Chokshi in partnership with deputy director, programs Jane Preston and in collaboration with other senior staff.

“NEFA has known Harold as a grantee, an arts practitioner, and a cultural equity advisor for a number of years, and we welcome Harold’s leadership,” said Jug Chokshi, interim executive director/COO. “We are ready to embark on the next chapter of NEFA’s work.”

About Harold Steward

Harold Steward (they/he) is a cultural strategist from Dallas, TX. They joined The Theater Offensive in Boston as the managing director in June of 2017 and currently serves as executive director & cultural strategist and oversees all operational and artistic functions of the organization. Harold most recently served as manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center, a division of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, which provides instruction and enrichment in the arts with an emphasis on the African contribution to world culture.

In 2009, Harold founded Fahari Arts Institute in Dallas after recognizing a gap in the landscape for local LGBTQ artists of color in Dallas. Fahari Arts Institute celebrated, displayed, and produced the work of queer artists from the African Diaspora.

Harold is a member of the board of directors of Theater Communications Group where they are the co-chair of the equity, diversity and inclusion committee. Harold is also the board treasurer for the National Performance Network and serves as the board clerk for MassCreative. They are also a steering committee member of the Black Theater Commons. Harold is also a founding member of NextGen National Arts Network and founding partner of Steward Cultural Development Group.

Steward served as a cultural equity facilitator with Equity Quotient and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Theater Studies at Emerson College where his current research interests include The Queer Trap Aesthetic in American Theatre and Identity Reclamation-The process in which oppressed individuals reclaim agency over their identity through cultural production.

About NEFA

The New England Foundation for the Arts invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation.  NEFA accomplishes this by granting funds to artists and cultural organizations; connecting them to each other and their audiences; and analyzing their economic contributions. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. Learn more at

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