On March 20, AAM welcomed Arthur Affleck as our new vice president of development. Arthur will lead all aspects of the Alliance’s fundraising programs and activities with the primary goal of building a culture of philanthropy in support of the Alliance’s 2016-2020 strategic plan. Before joining us, he has worked more than 30 years in higher education and most recently served at Hampton University in Virginia as associate vice president for development, where he led the $150 million Campaign for Hampton.
What attracted you most to this position?
Working in the museum field continues what I’ve been striving for since the early days of my career, and that’s to be in a helping profession. As a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, and then a doctor, and I went to work for universities, and all because I believe those roles impact lives. Museums do that, too. They inspire us and inform us.
Specifically with the Alliance, what first attracted me was the mission and strategic plan. But I was most impressed when I interviewed and met the team at AAM, all of whom gave me a strong feeling of their passion and commitment.
You worked for many years in the university setting. What do you bring from that experience to your new position at the Alliance?
My experience in the development area for universities taught me that you need to partner with other institutions, including foundations, corporations and other nonprofits. You can’t go it alone. The business of education truly takes a village. At the same time, the schools I worked for also had a museum or a gallery on campus. And although I was Biology major as an undergrad, I also was the president of the Little Theater Drama Club. So the arts have always been a part of my educational experience.
The Alliance recognizes that museums are all about education. And they offer a different kind of education, one that complements and sometimes surpasses the traditional, formal kinds of education. Museums appeal to many kinds of learners.
You mentioned that your children benefitted from museum experiences at an early age. Tell me more.
My wife and I both have been educators, and as we raised our children – a daughter and two sons – we made sure to involve them in lots of weekend activities, such as Saturday academies and STEM activities. We lived in North Carolina at the time, and I have so many photos of our kids at the Discovery Place Museum in Charlotte, always doing hands-on activities. Likewise, my in-laws live in New York City, and we always brought the kids to a few of New York’s many fine museums when they visited their grandparents, like the American Museum of Natural History.
Now my oldest son is a third-year medical student, and I truly believe that one of the reasons he has persevered through this very challenging curriculum is, at least in part, because of those enrichment experiences that stimulated his mind. Emerson wrote, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m very excited to advance the Alliance’s strategic focus on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, which I think is very closely related to its focus on PreK-12 education. It’s like we saw in the film, “Hidden Figures” – when African American women were allowed into the space program, it helped the program and it helped our country. And it only happened because a few leaders at NASA saw that their contributions were needed. If they hadn’t taken advantage of the gifts and talents of those women, the program would have suffered.
Museums are public institutions, and I know firsthand their potential to inspire. I grew up in New York City and spent the first 10 years of my life in public housing – “The Projects”. But every now and then, when we were lucky enough to take a trip to the museum, I felt the joy of that experience. It stayed with me.
I’m looking forward to being the VP of Development for AAM because I’m confident that we can find partners and investors who share that vision, who feel that if we can get museums to reach out to touch the lives of those who have not been traditionally welcomed, it’s a win-win-win. It helps our museums, it helps our communities, and it helps our country.
You can reach Arthur via at firstname.lastname@example.org.