Lawrence Arts Center promotes chief program officer to CEO

Margaret Weisbrod Morris

The Board of Directors of the Lawrence Arts Center has named a new CEO of the organization: Margaret Weisbrod Morris, who has been the arts center’s chief program officer.

“Over the past seven years in her current role, Margaret has dramatically increased program enrollment, developed extensive arts programming and has initiated partnerships and outreach programs for our organization,” Lawrence Arts Center Board Chair Sheryl Jacobs said, in an announcement released Tuesday. “We are fortunate to have someone assume the position who is as capable as Margaret, who is devoted to the Arts Center and our community.”

In addition to her formal role with the arts center, Weisbrod Morris is a mother of two and an artist herself. A longtime advocate for the role of arts in academics, she was among applicants last spring for a vacant seat on the school board.

Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, Weisbrod Morris earned a bachelor’s degree in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later completed her master’s studies in art therapy at New York University, the Journal-World previously reported.

After working as a prop artist for children’s television and then creating studio art and art therapy programs for New York-based nonprofits, she first joined the arts center as its education director in 2002. She took a position as program manager for Arts in Education with the Kansas Arts Commission, and when the state agency was eliminated she returned to the arts center, this time as chief program officer.

At the arts center, Weisbrod Morris has led an extensive community arts education program delivering over 500 classes a year to over 9,000 students in all arts media, according to the board’s news release about her hiring as CEO. An early supporter of connecting the arts with all academic disciplines, she pioneered the arts center’s model STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education curriculum.

On the national level, Weisbrod Morris has presented work in multiple forums and served as a panelist for the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other groups, according to the release. She currently is the chair of Americans for the Arts’ National Arts Education Advisory Council.

“For many years, it has been my conviction that the foundation of a healthy life, a strong community, and a sustainable business is developing inclusive networks rooted in creative exchange,” Weisbrod Morris said, in the board’s news release. “I firmly believe in the power of the arts to educate, activate, and unify, and I believe the Lawrence Arts Center is well positioned to support this in Lawrence and our region.”

Cindy Maude has been interim CEO of the arts center since July 2017. Maude, who had served on the arts center board, is former owner and CEO of Lawrence’s Callahan Creek marketing firm.

The last Lawrence Arts Center CEO, Kimberly Williams, resigned in July 2017 after just under a year on the job. At that time, the arts center appointed Maude as its interim leader and said a search for a new CEO would begin in January after the organization completed a strategic planning process.

Prior to Williams, Susan Tate had been arts center CEO since 2009.

Maude said Weisbrod Morris is well-known in the community and nationally, had effectively run arts center programs, and is “passionate about the arts center and the community.”