Karen Gahl-Mills, the CEO & executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC), has announced her resignation. She'll leave the grantmaking organization, which disburses revenue from the Cuyahoga County tax on cigarettes, in June in order to teach and consult in Chicago.
“I’m so proud of the work our team has done together since 2010 to make more people aware of the fantastic work coming from artists and arts organizations in Cuyahoga County," Gahl-Mills said, in a statement, "but it’s time for a new challenge for me and time for new leadership at CAC."
The past couple of years have been controversial at CAC. Among other things, the organization has stalled and modified a program
intended to fund individual artists.
“I always tried to remember that at the root of any criticism was passion for the arts – a passion I share,” Gahl-Mills said. “Hearing from the public is actually a part of the CEO’s job that I treasure, whether that feedback is positive or negative. I hope that the community recognizes that CAC is committed to continuing to listen to the public, particularly as we tackle difficult issues around equity in our grantmaking; I know that our dedicated staff will continue to carry that important work forward.”
Gahl-Mills will reportedly be teaching at both the University of Chicago and Northwestern, while "exploring consulting projects" with the Chicago-based Civic Consulting Alliance.
CAC's Board President, Joseph P. Gibbons said the search for a new executive director will begin soon.
“Karen will be missed, and I am grateful for her passion and dedication to arts and culture and for her leadership on behalf of CAC.” Gibbons said. (Gibbons himself may be leaving CAC soon. His term on the board expired at the end of March and will retain his seat only until Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish replaces him).