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Aperture Enters 2009 with Two New Hires in Development-Maria Laghi and Kit Baker
Maria Laghi by Joe Hsu.

NEW YORK, NY.- Aperture Foundation, a renowned non-profit arts institution dedicated to promoting photography in all its forms, is entering the New Year with two new hires in the development department, it was announced today by Juan García de Oteyza, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation. Maria Laghi, who spent the last five years as Director of Development at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is appointed Director of Development, effective immediately, reporting to the Executive Director. Kit Baker, who most recently worked in London and Berlin fundraising for visual arts projects, as well as producing independent gallery and theatre productions, is appointed Associate Director of Development for Institutional Giving, reporting to Ms. Laghi.

As Director of Development, Ms. Laghi’s primary responsibilities are to provide the overall strategy and leadership in the planning, implementation, and management of a diverse and comprehensive fundraising program. This will include the pursuit of individual, foundation, corporate, and government support for Aperture’s general operations, photography exhibitions, books, limited-edition prints, the award-winning Aperture magazine, and innovative educational programs. Ms. Laghi will work closely with the Executive Director, and the Chairman, and the Development Committee of the Board of Directors. She will also have frequent contact with the Board in general on other matters, as appropriate. She is a member of Aperture’s senior management team.

As Director of Development at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Laghi played a key role in creating, launching, and funding strategic initiatives designed to maximize the success of both the annual campaign and the $48 million capital campaign for a new, multi-venue Film Center within the broader Lincoln Center Redevelopment project. She was originally recruited by Lincoln Center, Inc., in 1994 after a 15-year career in public relations and marketing, to create its first Corporate Sponsorship program, which grew from less than $200,000 in her first year to $4.5 million by the time she left. This total figure included the largest corporate partnership in Lincoln Center’s history—MetLife’s first $9 million, six-year commitment to Live from Lincoln Center. Other accomplishments include creating and funding Summer at Lincoln Center, an umbrella promotional program, and doubling the Film Society’s contributed income over a period of five years.

Ms. Laghi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the City College of New York. She resides in Brooklyn with her husband.

As Associate Development Director for Institutional Giving, Mr. Baker is responsible for preparing proposals and reports for foundations and government to secure funding for Aperture’s general operations, as well as for specific programs and projects.

Mr. Baker has worked for established and emerging arts organizations in the United States, England, and Germany, for over twenty years. While most of his professional experience is in fundraising, he has also been involved in artistic programming, strategic planning, and international cultural exchange. Before moving to Berlin, he served as Head of Trusts and Public Sector Fundraising at Tate, London, where he coordinated and wrote funding applications to foundations, and public sector bodies for art acquisitions, research, conservation, exhibitions, and educational programs. Over the course of his tenure at Tate, Mr. Baker raised over $9 million. Before that, he worked as the principal grant writer for a variety of arts organizations, including Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.; the Cunningham Dance Foundation; Art Becofsky Associates; GAle GAtes et al.; and the Almeida Theatre in London, England.

Mr. Baker holds a M.A. in Philosophy from St. Andrew’s University, Scotland, and attended Guildford Technical College, England, and Oxford School, both in England. He lives in Brooklyn.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Maria and Kit to Aperture,” said Juan García de Oteyza, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation. “During these tough economic times, the role of development in the non-profit sector has never been more critical. I am therefore delighted to have two dedicated and experienced fundraising professionals join our team to help Aperture meet, and hopefully exceed, our fundraising goals in 2009 and beyond.

Michiko Simanjuntak Grasso, who joined Aperture’s development department in 2006, will continue in her role as Associate Development Director, reporting to Ms. Laghi. Kate Burnley is the department’s Development Assistant.

Aperture—located in New York’s Chelsea art district—is a world-renowned non-profit publisher and exhibition space dedicated to promoting photography in all its forms. Aperture was founded in 1952 by photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall, among others. These visionaries created a new quarterly periodical, Aperture magazine, to foster both the development and the appreciation of the photographic medium and its practitioners. In the 1960s, Aperture expanded to include the publication of books (over five hundred to date) that comprise one of the most comprehensive and innovative libraries in the history of photography and art. Aperture’s programs now include artist lectures and panel discussions, limited-edition photographs, and traveling exhibitions that show at major museums and arts institutions in the U.S. and internationally.

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