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James McKissic

This story was updated on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 10:34 a.m. to add information.

The board of directors of Chattanooga's ArtsBuild has named James McKissic as president of the organization, the leading organization charged with funding and promoting the arts and cultural programming in the region. He replaces Dan Bowers, who retired earlier this year, according to a news release.

McKissic, a Chattanooga area native with two decades of experience promoting community and art, will assume the role on Dec. 16, 2019.

"James' demonstrated passion for empowering communities, connecting cultures and changing lives will undoubtedly strengthen arts and culture equity throughout our region," said Dr. Mary Poston Tanner, board chairwoman of ArtsBuild. "We are confident in his ability to strengthen not only our organization, but our entire community through the arts."

McKissic most recently managed fundraising, programming and community engagement as chief operating officer of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. Before that, he was the senior adviser to the mayor and the director of the city of Chattanooga's Office of Multicultural Affairs. Both roles included improving diversity efforts and promoting inclusion throughout the city. 

In addition, McKissic has instituted a number of cultural programs, including Friends of African American Art, Sankofa Fund for Civic Engagement and the African American Arts and Culture Speaker Series. He also initiated "Rooted in Color," the first Regional Art Collectors Conference in Chattanooga focused on African American art, co-founded Responsive Initiatives for Social Empowerment (RISE) Chattanooga, established the Chattanooga Readers and Writers Fair and the African American Family Film Series in Miller Park, among other initiatives. He has served on ArtsBuild's board of directors in the past.

McKissic holds a bachelor of science in secondary education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a master's degree in nonprofit and public administration from the Robert F. Wagner School at New York University and an executive certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He recently completed the Harvard Business School's Young American Leaders Program, the National Arts and Cultural Strategies Executive Program at the University of Pennsylvania and the Business for Impact/New Strategies in Fundraising Program at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.

ArtsBuild, founded in 1969, has as its mission to build a stronger community through the arts. It raises funds for 14 cultural partners and has invested more than $74 million over the past 50 years in Hamilton County's many arts organizations, advocating for the arts on a local and national level, funding arts integration programs for students and teachers, and working to ensure traditionally underserved populations have access to arts programming.

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