McKnight Foundation Announces Departure of Laura Zimmermann

The McKnight Foundation's arts program officer, Laura Zimmermann, also a member of the GIA Board of Directors, will will step down from her position in May, according to this note from Vickie Benson, Arts Program Director:

Dear colleague: I am writing today to let you know that Laura Zimmermann has decided to leave her role as arts program officer and director of artist fellowships at The McKnight Foundation. Laura’s last day at McKnight will be May 3. Of course, I am sad to lose Laura as a colleague, but happy to know she is leaving to concentrate on other important loves in her life. In her own words, she and her family have “hatched a plan to buy some time to write regularly, think expansively, and parent conscientiously.”

In 1995, Laura began working at McKnight in a support role with the Foundation’s arts and environment programs. In 1999, she was promoted to program officer. During her tenure she has been responsible for reviewing and managing more than 500 grants to 175 organizations engaged in the arts, neighborhood and economic development, family support, and education. In addition, for the last 10 years she has directed the McKnight Artist Fellowship program. Just last year, in celebration of that program’s 30th anniversary, Laura led the launch of our State of the Artist blog and the online data visualization projectVisualizing Artists’ Careers, documenting three decades of artist fellows. She has also served on the board of the national Grantmakers in the Arts since 2011, and chaired the planning committee that established the Minnesota Cultural Data Project, which will provide unprecedented opportunities in the future for arts organizations and artists to share data and track trends for effective planning and evaluation.

By the end of March, we plan to post a position opening for arts program officer as we strive to identify the best candidates to step into this important program area at McKnight. Please keep an eye on McKnight’s website at for the latest details on our hiring process.

Laura is a lifelong champion of the arts and artists, and she has been an unbelievably important colleague in our work at McKnight. In the coming weeks, I hope you’ll join me in thanking her and wishing her well as she looks forward to new opportunities in her life’s next chapter.


Vickie Benson
Arts Program Director