November 23, 2016

Arts Council of Princeton Names New Executive Director


ARTS ADVOCATE: Taneshia Nash Laird is the new executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton, replacing Jeff Nathanson who is stepping down after 11 years. Ms. Nash Laird was executive director of the Trenton Downtown Association and co-founded MIST Harlem, a cultural and entertainment center.

The Arts Council of Princeton announced Tuesday that, after a national search, the organization has selected Taneshia Nash Laird as its new executive director. A regionally and nationally recognized leader in arts and economic development, Ms. Nash Laird will serve as the ACP’s third executive director since the organization’s founding in 1967.

Ms. Nash Laird is currently the owner of Legacy Business Advisors, a community development consultancy that provides strategic communications, business development, and finance strategies to social entrepreneurs and government agencies. Previously, she was co-founder and chief marketing officer of MIST Harlem, a multimillion-dollar cultural and entertainment center focused on the African and Latino diaspora.

From 2006-2011, Ms. Nash Laird served as executive director of the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA), where she led a reorganization that focused on business development, place making, and tourism. With the belief that the arts are essential to the revitalization of an urban community, she launched a new community art gallery and the Destination Trenton cultural tourism initiative. Under her leadership, TDA won an Award of Recognition from the New Jersey Historical Commission and a Diamond Award from the New Jersey Tourism Association.

Previous to that, Ms. Nash Laird held executive positions in both public and private sectors. She was recently tapped by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to be a grants panelist, providing recommendations on funding place-based projects throughout the country in the Art Works: Design category. She currently serves on the board of the Art Pride NJ Foundation.

“Taneshia Nash Laird is an exciting new leader for the Arts Council of Princeton as it moves into its next half-century,” said Ted Deutsch, board president of the Arts Council of Princeton. “She brings a unique blend of arts, economic development, and marketing expertise that will help us deliver on our mission in creative ways and deepen our outreach to the greater Princeton community.”

“As an area resident for nearly two decades, I’ve watched the Arts Council of Princeton grow significantly, and I have experienced first-hand the many ways in which it invites area residents to engage in the arts through its diverse programming,” added Ms. Nash Laird. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this deeply respected organization with such a rich legacy of community building. For me, the appointment fulfills a lifelong dream to lead a regional arts organization and make a significant community impact.”

Ms. Nash Laird is the co-author of Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans, which depicts Black history in a 210-page comic book format. In October she was the recipient of an award of recognition from the Princeton Committee of the United Negro College Fund. She earned her BBA in Marketing Management from Bernard Baruch College, City University of New York, and a certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from the Institute for Ethical Leadership, Rutgers University School of Business.

Ms. Nash Laird will succeed Jeff Nathanson, who announced in June that he would step down at the end of 2016. She will begin to transition into her new role in December and be in place full-time immediately after the new year.

Added Mr. Deutsch: “On behalf of the board and the community, I salute Jeff Nathanson for 11 years of passionate leadership of the ACP during a time of tremendous organizational growth. His tenure has left an invaluable imprint on the Greater Princeton community.” Mr. Deutsch also thanked the Arts Council’s search committee, chaired by Board Secretary Jim Levine, for its five months of dedicated work.