Portrait of Deana Haggag (photo by Braxton Black, courtesy USA)

Artist-oriented foundations find themselves playing a noteworthy game of musical chairs today, as United States Artists (USA) announces today that president and CEO Deana Haggag will be stepping down to continue her trailblazing work at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In her new position as program officer in arts and culture, she will focus on “the current and emerging infrastructure and field-wide needs of artists and arts organizations,” according to a press release from USA.

Haggag has led United States Artists for the last four years, during which time USA grew rapidly. The foundation bestowed 60 of its signature fellowships this year alone, an unprecedented number of awardees and a 30% increase from their numbers at the start of Haggag’s presence with the organization. Under Haggag’s watch, USA also founded the Berresford Prize, an unrestricted $25,000 award given annually to “a cultural practitioner who has contributed significantly to the advancement, well-being, and care of artists in society.”

Haggag will finish out her work with USA on April 30 and will be succeeded by interim CEO Jamie Bennett. Bennett was the executive director of ArtPlace America from 2014 to 2020. Previously, he served as chief of staff at the National Endowment for the Arts as part of President Obama’s administration, and chief of staff at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs under Mayor Bloomberg.

“We are in a great position to continue to expand our support and services to artists throughout the country and we are fortunate to engage Jamie Bennett to continue our work,” said Ed Henry, USA board chair, who also announced his renewal in that position.

“There is truly nothing more fulfilling than working in service of artists,” said Haggag in the press release. “Leading USA has been an immeasurable honor… As we recover from this challenging moment, I am humbled to take these lessons with me and to learn from colleagues at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as we continue advocating for our nation’s beloved artist community.”

Sarah Rose Sharp

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit —...