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Constance H. Williams Announced as New Chair of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Constance H. Williams. Photo: Graydon Wood, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Philadelphia Museum of Art has completed a major transition in its volunteer leadership, ensuring the continuity of its mission and affirming its role as one of the most significant cultural institutions in the city and region. Today, after nine extraordinary years of transformational leadership as Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest announced the Board’s unanimous and enthusiastic election of Constance H. Williams as his successor in this position. Mr. Lenfest will remain active as a trustee, joining Raymond G. Perelman as Emeritus Chair. He will also continue as Chair of the Fiske Kimball Society and the Committee on American Art.

Ms. Williams, an entrepreneur with a strong background in marketing, publishing, and public service, was first elected to the Museum’s Board of Trustees in 2006. She is widely known for her deep commitments to economic development across diverse regional organizations, education, the arts, and her advocacy for women and children.

“Devoting my energy, along with many others, to the advancement of this institution, its educational mission, and the uplifting role it plays in and beyond Philadelphia has been one of the great joys of my life,” said Mr. Lenfest. “Thus, it is deeply gratifying to know that as we welcome Connie Williams as the new captain to steer our ship, we are ushering in a new generation of philanthropy, commitment and vision. In Connie we have a leader whose civic values are so admirably demonstrated and who possesses the purpose, management skill, and vision that will offer great promise for the Museum’s future. I am honored to have her as my successor.”

“Following in the footsteps of Gerry Lenfest as Board Chair is a challenge and at the same time a tremendous inspiration,” said Ms. Williams. “Gerry is emblematic of the outstanding Trustees with whom I serve, and he will be our guiding light as we advance the growth of this great institution. Hand in hand with the new leadership represented by Timothy Rub’s recent appointment as Director and CEO, and by Gail Harrity as President and COO, the Board looks ahead to the new opportunities we will embrace together, as we serve the Museum’s mission and expand its audience and reach.”

Since joining the Board of Trustees four years ago, Ms. Williams has served as a member of the Modern and Contemporary Art Committee, the Committee on Philanthropy, and the Committee on Trustees. She served with distinction as a Pennsylvania State Senator from 2001 to 2008 and as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1997 to 2001. A graduate of Barnard College and the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Williams is also a Vice President and Director of the Hess Foundation, a major philanthropy supporting higher education and hospitals, performing arts and cultural organizations, synagogues, and human services. A New Jersey native, she is married to Dr. Sankey Williams, the Sol Katz Professor of General Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and has lived in Haverford, PA, since 1981.

Gerry Lenfest was elected Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees in 2001. His vision and extraordinary generosity spurred the unprecedented growth of the Museum’s collections, the strengthening of its endowment, numerous improvements to its facilities, the development of new educational and outreach programs, the dramatic expansion of its membership, and significant improvements in governance.

“We have now completed a transition that will keep the Museum moving forward and on an even keel,” said Timothy Rub. “Our entire staff is eager to work closely with Connie and her fellow trustees to achieve the goals we have set for this institution and to meet the new challenges we face in the 21st century, from addressing resource needs and strengthening the collection to expanding membership and engaging new audiences. We are also delighted that Gerry Lenfest will remain active as a trustee. His wisdom and exceptional advocacy have been instrumental to the success of the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the past decade, and for that we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude."

Gail Harrity added, “Over the years, Gerry has brought to the Museum tremendous business skills and a vision of public-private partnership that has made such an enormous difference for the Museum, and that is reflected in his admirable community service in Philadelphia. Like Gerry, Connie brings exceptional business acumen and understands both the important role the business community can play in support of the arts and the role of the arts in enriching the life of the community.”

As she begins her tenure as the new leader of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Ms. Williams underscored the importance of building upon the strong foundation established by her predecessor. In addition, she has identified a number of priorities. “I hope that the museum will become even more accessible” she notes, “so that its permanent collection and its remarkable exhibitions will enable a broader audience to cherish the art of the past and inspire their own creativity. I will also ask my fellow trustees to join with me in working to fulfill the vision embodied in our facilities Master Plan, to build wider public participation, and to strengthen its resources so that the Museum can continue to play a leadership role in the cultural life of this community.”

The Philadelphia Museum of Art | Constance H. Williams | Gail Harrity |

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