The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert W. Lasher as the museum's deputy director, external relations, a newly created position. Starting on November 1, 2010, Lasher will supervise a new External Relations division, overseeing the museum's Development Department and Marketing and Communications Department. He joins SFMOMA's two current deputy museum directors, of curatorial affairs and of administration and finance, serving under Director Neal Benezra on the museum's senior leadership team.
Lasher brings significant experience and an outstanding record of achievement in fundraising, nonprofit board governance, and strategic management. His work in arts, scientific, and higher education institutions demonstrates a proven record of organizational transformation that is directly relevant to this new role at SFMOMA. He comes to the museum from the San Francisco Symphony, where he served as director of development since 2003.
"Bob impressed us with his intelligence, strategic vision, and drive, and he has worked with many members of the city's philanthropic community," said Benezra. "As he has done so well at the Symphony, we are looking to him to transform our development initiatives, strengthen our engagement with our constituencies, and shape and implement the capital campaign for SFMOMA's future."
SFMOMA is in the early phase of a major expansion to support the continuing growth of the museum's collections, programs, and audiences and to showcase the outstanding Doris and Donald Fisher Collection of modern and contemporary art. The total projected campaign budget is $480 million, including $230 million for the museum's endowment; thus far, $250 million has been pledged, including $100 million for the endowment.
"Bob's appointment marks a critical step in building the resources SFMOMA needs to expand the services we provide to the community," said Charles Schwab, chairman of the museum's Board of Trustees. "His deep experience in fostering institutional growth greatly enhances our ability to realize and sustain the vision we have set for the future. Bob's experience rounds out the senior management team as we look toward the future and the museum's exciting expansion."
At the Symphony, Lasher's responsibilities included management of the nation's premiere performing arts auxiliary, which involves 1,500 active volunteers annually in bringing symphony programs to the Bay Area community. He structured and implemented the Symphony's Second Century Campaign, a major six-year enterprise to support artistic excellence and audience development initiatives in anticipation of the Symphony's Centennial. Through the success of the $125 million campaign, Lasher played a leading role in the launch of the $25 million Keeping Score program, a national broadcast and school-based initiative to introduce more Americans to the power and meaning of classical music.
In 1999, Lasher served as executive director of the San Francisco–based L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, whose mission is to increase scientific knowledge, education, and public understanding of human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival. At the Leakey Foundation, he worked with an international board of directors for an organization supporting scientific research projects on several continents and reinvented the $18 million foundation's development and marketing programs. During his tenure, major fossil discoveries in Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Republic of Georgia were achieved with critical support from the Leakey Foundation. Membership grew substantially through the introduction of a national speaker series and an award-winning website.
Lasher earned a bachelor's degree in history from Dartmouth College in 1988. Prior to moving to California in 1999, he served as director of individual giving at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC, and as director of development for the school of architecture during the University of Virginia's first $1 billion comprehensive campaign in the 1990s.
Lasher has been a longstanding supporter of SFMOMA and a museum member since 2000.
SFMOMA welcomes more than 650,000 visitors annually, and more than 46,000 students visit each year. Since opening its South of Market building in 1995, SFMOMA has added more than 13,000 works to its collections, 95 percent of which were donated, doubling its holdings to 26,000 works. At the same time, SFMOMA's family programs have increased five-fold, teacher-training programs have increased six-fold, and gallery tours have expanded to 1,800. SFMOMA has mounted a series of exhibitions that have drawn both record attendance and critical praise, including recent exhibitions by Diane Arbus, Olafur Eliasson, Eva Hesse, Frida Kahlo, William Kentridge, Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, and Jeff Wall. The museum celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010.
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