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Julie S. Henahan Hired as Ohio Arts Council Executive Director
by Jami Goldstein

Executive Director Julie S. Henahan

The Ohio Arts Council Board has chosen former Ohio Arts Council Deputy Director Julie Henahan as the new OAC Executive Director. Henahan had been serving as Interim Executive Director since early April of this year when Wayne Lawson, former OAC Executive Director, retired.

“The Search Committee was looking for someone to lead one of the best arts councils in the nation and Julie Henahan has demonstrated her commitment to this level of excellence,” said Susan Sofia, Ohio Arts Council Board Chair. “During her tenure with the Council she has demonstrated her dedication to serving individual artists, arts organizations and arts communities throughout the state. Julie is familiar with the full range of arts activities in the state of Ohio and is well known and respected regionally and nationally. She is diplomatic, intelligent and dedicated, and brings continuity to the Ohio Arts Council with her experience and knowledge of the agency’s past and dedication to its mission in the future. Transitions in leadership always come with challenges, but I am confident that with the support of the OAC Board, staff, and our constituents that this transition will be smooth.”

“I am honored and very happy to accept this challenge and appreciate the Council’s trust and confidence in me to oversee the continuing legacy at the Ohio Arts Council. With the support and hard work of the Ohio Arts Council board and the experience of a talented staff, I look forward to working with the Governor’s office, legislature, Ohio arts organizations and artists to carry the mission of the Ohio Arts Council to the citizens of our wonderful state and to sharing that mission with our regional, national and international partners.”

Henahan is a long-tenured member of the Ohio Arts Council staff with nearly 22 years experience as an arts administrator. From 1994-2002, Henahan served as the OAC’s Grants Office Director where she was responsible for the development of all procedures and policies related to the grants review process and managed the OAC’s internal accounting of state subsidy funds as well as its federal funding. She has served on the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ Research Information Committee, the National Standard Working Group and NASAA’s Planning and Budget Committee.

Henahan has also honed her leadership and visioning skills through a close-mentor relationship with former Executive Director Wayne Lawson and Deputy Director Sue Neumann. In addition, her recent role in leading three important projects at the Ohio Arts Council demonstrates her knowledge of the national arts environment, professionalism and capability to take the agency to new heights.

Henahan was one of five OAC staff members selected to participate in the Wallace Foundation’s program for a State Arts Partnership for Cultural Participation (START) grant award. The focused work that resulted from this grant allowed the agency to streamline its granting programs from 24 to seven. She guided the agency through the implementation of the new OnLine Grant Application system (OLGA) and the agency’s engagement of two major federal grants for it’s international work. In addition, her grant proposal writing has earned the OAC special acknowledgement from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as consistently high-ratings from review panels.

Search consultant Adele Silver, of New York City and Washington, D.C., assisted in identifying and contacting qualified candidates on a national level.

“The Search Committee’s recommendation is the result of an extensive and intensive national process. We retained a highly regarded, experienced art consultant whose comprehensive contacts and resources provided for our review a diverse group of qualified applicants from both in-state and out,” said Barbara Robinson, OAC Board Chair Emeritus and Search Committee Chair. “Those most highly qualified through experience, education and demonstrated leadership were researched as potential candidates through listed and off-list references, as well as personal interviews.”

Henahan’s responsibilities as Deputy Director included oversight of the agency’s state subsidy budget development, federal grant preparation, policy and program development, strategic planning, personnel operations, compliance with state and federal laws and are the OAC liaison to the Attorney General’s office. She is also a member of the OAC’s International Committee and has administered the fiscal responsibilities of the International Program since its inception in 1989.

Henahan graduated magna cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in history (medieval studies) and a minor in humanities and classics. She is a former board member of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus and is a member of Ohio Women in Government and Americans for the Arts. She grew up in DeGraff, Ohio where she attended Riverside High School and currently resides in Upper Arlington with her husband Jim.

Search Committee members include Barbara S. Robinson, Search Committee Chair, (Cleveland); Sheila Markley Black, OAC Board Vice-Chair (Canton); Martha Appel Burton (Portsmouth); J. Joseph Hale (Cincinnati); Raymond Tymas-Jones (Athens); and Mary T. Wolfe (Perrysburg); Susan R. Sofia, OAC Board Chair and ex-oficio Search Committee member (Columbus). If you are interested in contacting any of the Search Committee members please contact the OAC's Public Information Office.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally and economically.

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