INDIANAPOLIS — The Newfields Art and Nature Museum announced Friday evening that President and CEO Colette Pierce Burnette has resigned after serving in the roles for the last 15 months.
The news release did not provide any explanation for Burnette’s departure. The art museum’s Board of Trustees announced that Michael Kubacki will resume the roles of president and CEO on an interim basis.
“We thank Dr. Burnette for her service to Newfields,” said Darrianne Christian, the Newfields Board of Trustees chair. “She helped deepen our relationships with the community and championed the transformative powers of art and nature. We are grateful for her work on behalf of Newfields and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Kubacki previously served as a member of the Newfields Board of Trustees over a nine-year period, stretching from 2014 to this year. He also served as vice chair on the board from May of 2021 to 2023.
“Mike has a track record as a successful leader and manager in both the public and private sectors, deep knowledge of Newfields, and a passion for our mission,” said Christian. “We have every confidence in him, and he is fully supported by the Board of Trustees and Newfields’ senior leadership. We are moving ahead and looking forward to the future.”
Burnette was hired on Aug. 1, 2022, following the resignation of former President Charles Venable in the aftermath of a controversial job posting that landed the museum and Venable in hot water.
Venable resigned in February of 2021 after a job posting for the Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art was criticized for its divisive language, with a section describing job duties including a line about “maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience.”
The art museum did not share any information in its news release about the board’s timeline for selecting the next president and CEO.
On Nov. 16, Indiana Black Expo and the Indianapolis Urban League released a joint statement on Burnette’s resignation:
Due to the nature of the announcement and the negative perception it has created, the Newfields board leadership owes the community an explanation about the resignation of Dr. Colette Burnette. Dr. Burnette opened the Newfields’ doors to many African American organizations and the entire community, and we have personally witnessed the buzz and excitement around her leadership. We were looking forward to expanding the partnership with Newfields in 2024, which has now come to a complete halt. She has become a pillar in the community and her expertise and leadership are sorely needed in Indianapolis. When a stellar executive “abruptly resigns”, one must wonder again, are we seriously committed to black talent recruitment and retention in Indiana?