Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership Program

Locally, nationally and globally, there is a lack of diverse leadership within the arts and culture fields to represent the communities served. Facts demonstrate that there is almost no diversity in the leadership of arts and culture in the US. A Mellon Foundation study shows 4% of museum curators, conservators, educators and leaders are African American and 3% are Hispanic.

Program Objective

The primary goal of the program is to increase the diversity of the leadership in major cultural and ethnic arts organizations. CEA graduates will be recognized as a group of diverse individuals motivated and prepared to lead significant cultural and ethnic arts organizations. The CEA cohort group will be composed of experienced arts professionals, with the majority drawn ideally from underrepresented populations, whose experience and ambition position them to be a CEO of an arts or cultural organization. It is also one of the objectives of the CEA Certificate Program to embrace the diversity of our nation’s communities, and to identify and provide opportunity for advancement to candidates who can engage their communities at large and who will serve as inspiration and role models to others who wish to pursue careers in arts and culture.

The Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership (CEA) Program is a new certificate program consisting of a ten-day intensive, on-site program with classroom training, experiential and group learning, colloquia, and site visits, followed by a one year mentorship with a member of the program's diverse and nationally recognized faculty. According to James Abruzzo, co-director of the Institute and noted arts management consultant, “There are few, if any, individuals from underserved populations now running the major cultural organizations and ethnic arts organizations. And the pipeline is sparse. The knowledge gained from the program and the influence from the faculty mentorships, will produce a group of leaders and will fill the leadership pipeline.”

The first 10-day in-residence program took place June 17-26, 2016 in Newark, NJ with a multi-pronged curriculum. The cohort of 16 participants made a commitment to remain in-residence with the other participants for the entire ten-day program. Program materials, tickets for performances and events, room, board, and flights (where necessary), were all included in tuition. Each participant and their employer made a modest financial commitment to the program. No applicant will be denied acceptance for financial reasons only.


2016 Cohort

The inaugural cohort of 16 outstanding participants includes arts organization founders, senior arts managers from major institutions, artists and CEOs of smaller arts organizations. They work at dance, visual arts, theater, literature, museums, performing arts centers and arts education organizations located across the United States and abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should apply?

The primary goal of the program is to increase the diversity of the leadership in major cultural and ethnic arts organizations. The CEA cohort group will be composed of experienced arts professionals, with the majority drawn ideally from underrepresented populations. Underrepresented populations are not limited to ethnic and religious minorities, but also broadly include LGBTQ and differently-abled communities. We are seeking participants whose ambition is to become the CEO of an organization. Apply to this program if you are one of those individuals. Applications from arts and cultural leaders with 8 or more years of experience will receive preference.

What is the application process?

To apply, the CEO of the applicant’s current organization or an influencer in the field nominates the applicant; a member of the board can nominate those applicants who are CEOs of smaller organizations. Self-nominations are also accepted with an appropriate letter of reference.

The CEA Program is a competitive and international program. Arts professionals throughout North America and abroad are encouraged to obtain a nomination. In addition to a brief application, applicants will be interviewed by the program director. Local applicants may be invited to in-person interviews, while other applicants will be interviewed remotely.

What curriculum will the program follow?

The program will consist of four parts: formal instruction, colloquia, events/performances, site visits to arts/culture organizations, and mentorship.

Part 1: Formal Instruction

The formal instruction, taught by recognized arts leaders and Rutgers professors, all of whom possess national and international reputations in their field of expertise, will consist of modules including the role of CEO in Finance, Fundraising, Board Relations and Governance, Audience Building, and Community Engagement; topics related to underserved populations including cultural competency, changing demographics, national and international trends in arts and culture, and entrepreneurship; ethical leadership training including an Emotional Intelligence assessment, arts and cultural ethics, resume writing and interviewing with search committees, self-negotiating a CEO employment contract, and life and career planning.

Part 2: Colloquia

The group will enjoy dinners, panel discussions, Q&A sessions and colloquia with arts leaders throughout the 10-day in-residence program.

Part 3: Site Visits

The group will not only attend performances and cultural events, they will enjoy site visits at rehearsals with artistic directors. The visits will include a discussion about the particular manner in which artists lead other artists providing insights to the cohort.

Part 4: Mentorship

Each participant will have a yearlong mentorship, assigned to an individual drawn from the program faculty who themselves are cultural leaders and who are of underrepresented and diverse populations. In addition to the yearlong mentorship and on site program in New Jersey, the participants will together form a mutually beneficial support group among the members and ultimately CEA certificate holders will be known as those ready to lead cultural and ethnic arts organizations.

How much is tuition?

Each participant and their employer must make a modest financial commitment to the program. Program materials, tickets for performances and events, room, board, and flights (where necessary), are included in tuition. Individual participants must contribute $300 to participate in this program. Employers' of participants must provide participants with paid time off during the 10-day in-residence program outside of normal vacation benefits, and tuition support of $300-$1,500 (depending on the size of the organization, see below). All other costs to participate are covered by scholarships secured by the Institute for Ethical Leadership. No applicant will be denied acceptance for financial reasons only.*

Employers' tuition support scale based on organization annual budget:

  • Over $10 million: $1,500
  • Over $5 million and up to $10 million: $1,200
  • Between $1 million and $5 million: $600
  • Under $1 million: $300

*In an effort to increase accessibility, need for financial assistance will be based on the honor system. We ask each participant and their organization to consider all amenities provided, and resources at their disposal, when determining ability to contribute financial support.

About Us

The program is led by the Co-founder of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School (IEL), James Abruzzo, and several partners and sponsors.

Institution Partner

  • New Jersey Performance Arts Center

Arts Partners

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
  • Museum of Chinese in America
  • New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
  • Studio Museum of Harlem
  • Rutgers-Newark College of Arts and Sciences
  • Institut fur Kultur und Mediamanagment (IKM),  Freie Universität, Berlin

Founding Sponsor of Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership

  • Prudential Financial & Prudential Foundation

Major Sponsors

  • Rutgers University-Newark, Office of the Chancellor
  • The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
  • The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Corporate Sponsors

  • Wells Fargo
  • PSEG

Individual Sponsor

  • Donald E. Strangfeld

Organization Sponsors

  • Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia
  • Camden Repertory Theater
  • Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
  • David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts
  • Gallery Aferro
  • Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
  • Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC)
  • Museum of Chinese in America
  • Newark Arts Council
  • New Jersey Symphony Orchestra  
  • PEN America
  • SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists)
  • Stonewall National Museum & Archives
  • Yendor Productions/ Yendor Arts


Please contact Program Manager, Vicki Fernandez, at 973-353-3488 or