Big Shoes to Fill: Meet the New Leader at Creative Capital

The year 2000 seems like centuries ago. The economy was humming, chads were hanging, and the number one song of the year, at least according to Billboard, was Faith Hill's "Breathe."

Simpler times, weren't they?

It was also around that time that Ruby Lerner took the helm of Creative Capital, one of the country's most dynamic funders of the arts. She presided over an impressive 17-year tenure, but just like term limits, a bear market, and a sustained career in country-pop music, most things must come to an end. Lerner announced her intention to step down in 2015.

Now comes word that Creative Capital has named Susan Delvalle as its new president and executive director.

According to the organization, Delvalle was a slam dunk in the truest sense. She was unanimously chosen by a search committee made up of Creative Capital Board Chair Lyda Kuth as well as founding and current board members, and outside members from the New Museum and UCLA. The committee was advised by Phillips Oppenheim, an executive search firm, which reviewed over a hundred nominations for the position from all across the country.  

Not surprisingly, Delvalle comes to Creative Capital with an impressive background in the arts, fundraising, and institution building. Delvalle most recently served as director of the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, overseeing the opening of a new museum in New York City. She previously served as Director of External Affairs and Development at El Museo Del Barrio, where she dramatically increased the museum’s budget and attendance over her eleven-year tenure.

"Suzy is a gifted communicator and fundraiser with an incredible passion for the arts," said Kuth. "We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her join Creative Capital and look forward to seeing the organization grow under her leadership in the years to come."

Delvalle assumes her position with the wind at Creative Capital's back. For example, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, a longtime supporter, recently pledged to fund the organization for the next five years. That will certainly give Devalle and her team some breathing room and flexibility to map out short- and long-term goals.

Speaking of such goals, we naturally anticipate further support across one of Creative Capital's most distinctive offerings—helping artists build sustainable and financially secure careers. It is a topic we've looked at before here at IP, both in terms of Creative Capital's Expanding Loan Fund for Alumni as well as its Moving Image ad Visual Arts grant program.

And that's what makes arts philanthropy a refreshing thing, right? In a market-driven world where corporations' top concern is next quarter's earning report, organizations like Creative Capital have the wherewithal (and luxury!) to think 20, 30 years in advance. Take that Milton Friedman!

But we digress.

This topic of artist career development is quite naturally near and dear to Lerner, who upon handing over the reigns to Delvalle said, "I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done to help artists realize their visions and develop the skills and know-how to sustain their careers into the future."

Lerner continues: "I feel completely confident handing over the reins to Suzy Delvalle at this exciting juncture for Creative Capital. Suzy is a proven, creative institution builder who is skilled at bringing people together to achieve ambitious goals. Just as importantly, I know she’ll continue to foster the sense of community that makes Creative Capital such a special organization."