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The Fund for the Arts announced today that President & CEO Barbara Sexton Smith is retiring after the 2014 Fund for the Arts campaign. Sexton Smith marked her 16th anniversary with the Fund for the Arts this year, with the last three in her current role.

Barbara Sexton Smith

Barbara Sexton Smith


“We will find a new President & CEO for the Fund, but we will never be able to replace Barbara Sexton Smith”, said Jim Allen, President of the Fund for the Arts Board of Directors. “Nothing would please me more than having Barbara remain in her current role, but as she begins a new chapter in her life we respect and support her decision.”

During Sexton Smith’s leadership at the Fund, she was nationally recognized with the prestigious Michael Newton Award for Arts Leadership from American for the Arts in 2013, launched the wildly successful power2give online crowd-funding platform for Kentucky/Southern Indiana, and led two consecutive years of growth for the organization. Under Sexton Smith’s leadership, the Fund for the Arts received the 2012 Corey Medallion from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America.

“Barbara Sexton Smith is one of Louisville’s most energetic and passionate leaders and the Fund for the Arts has benefited enormously from her many years of service,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “She has a unique ability to sell the importance of the arts to everyone, from welders to CEOs. Our city is grateful for her visionary and impressive leadership.”

Locally, Sexton Smith has been a fixture in the Arts community both as a patron and champion. “Barbara personifies the Arts in Louisville. If you have ever signed that pledge card, it’s likely because you saw Barbara dazzling a crowd with stories of how Art was shaping the community and the lives of children throughout the region”, said Mark Wheeler, 2014 Fund for the Arts Campaign Chair. “While I am personally sad to see her move on, I hope we can do our best to send Barbara out on top. She has given this community so much. I am confident we can give something back to her.”

The Fund for the Arts Board of Directors is currently conducting a comprehensive search and reviewing candidates from a local, regional and national pool of talent. As part of the 2013 Strategic Planning Initiative the Board is committed to implementing effective leadership transition strategies for both board and executive management leadership. Sexton Smith will stay engaged throughout the process to ensure a smooth, normal transition.

“This is an amazing job!” said Sexton Smith. “There is someone out there ready to take on this mantle of leadership and help the Fund for the Arts reach new heights; and I am excited to see who that will be. I may be leaving the Fund for the Arts, but I am not leaving the Louisville Arts Community. Together through the Arts we create a great American city! I will always be a part of that.”

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