PHOENIX, Ariz. – James Pepper Henry announced today that he will step down as director and CEO of the Heard Museum at the end of February. Pepper Henry, a member of the Kaw Nation, will return to his tribal homeland in Oklahoma as the new executive director of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa.
“Leaving the Heard Museum at this time was a very difficult decision to make,” said Pepper Henry. “The museum has made great progress in the last year and half and is well positioned to have continued success. I will miss the staff, volunteers, and the many constituents that help to make the Heard a wonderful place.”
Pepper Henry oversaw the foundation of a new direction for the museum during his tenure including the development of exhibitions such as BUILD! Toy Brick Art at the Heard, which was the most successful summer exhibit in the museum’s history, increasing museum attendance by 58 percent and memberships by 150 percent. USA Today noted BUILD! as one of its “Top Ten” must-see exhibits in summer 2014. He also led the creation of a new strategic plan to move the Heard forward over the next several years, and was instrumental in crafting a new mission for the museum, which includes strategies to increase the attendance of families and first-time visitors.
“The Board of Trustees of the Heard Museum realizes that this provides him with the opportunity to return home and his Oklahoma tribal community,” said Leland W. Peterson, Heard Museum board chair. “We are grateful to Jim for leading the creation of our strategic plan and initializing the formation of a long-term sustainability model for the museum. We wish him well in his new role and look forward to working with him as a member of the Native American museum consortium. We also look forward to continuing the forward momentum begun by Jim and ensuring continuity in our mission and operations.”
The Heard Board of Trustees will convene on January 22, 2014 to consider a succession plan.