Roberta Uno Stepping Down at Ford Foundation

From Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation:

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to share wonderful news regarding our extraordinary colleague Roberta Uno. In a continuation of the issues that she has worked on during her time at the Ford Foundation, Roberta will become the Director of Arts in a Changing America, a new national project engaging changing demographics through the lens of aesthetics, arts practice, cultural equity, and social justice which will be based at the California Institute of the Arts.

It’s a great honor for Roberta to be recognized in this way, and to have such a powerful platform from which to practice her unique brand of leadership in the arts community and beyond. Attracting Roberta to California is a great win for CalArts, and it is a fantastic next step for Roberta, who during her 12 years at the foundation curated a profound conversation about the place of arts in a diversifying nation and the role of artists in the pursuit of social justice. While we will miss her wisdom beyond words, we can’t wait to see what she does next!

Roberta arrived at Ford in 2002, after 23 years as the Artistic Director of the New WORLD Theater in Amherst, Massachusetts, which she founded. Roberta’s vision, intellectual integrity, and commitment to social justice had an immediate impact on Ford’s programming in the arts and beyond. An innovative and prolific grant maker, her work has included the Future Aesthetics program, which gave visibility to Hip Hop culture and organizing; the Artography program, which funded across arts disciplines to recognize innovation and leadership in response to changing demographics; and the Supporting Diverse Arts Spaces initiative, which helped develop place-based arts organizations and networks committed to creativity, diversity, and inclusion in their communities. She also collaborated on the development of significant national entities, including Leveraging Investments in Creativity, United States Artists, and ArtPlace America. She has also remained a practicing artist and artistic collaborator.

Among all these remarkable achievements, what has been most remarkable about Roberta has been her qualities as a colleague. Thoughtful and rigorous, open and generous, she made every substantive conversation she took part in more meaningful by her presence and her insights. She offered her time, ideas, and enthusiasm to colleagues around the world, made our grantmaking better, and made us all more conscious of the power of culture within our work. She has truly been a unique voice for justice and we will miss her warmth and wisdom very deeply.

Please join me in thanking Roberta and wishing her the very best.