By Ayana Jones
PHILADELPHIA — After eight years of leading the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Patricia Wilson Aden is stepping down as president and CEO.
Aden is leaving the museum at the end of September to assume the role of president and CEO of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee. The mission of the Blues Foundation is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues and ensure the future of that American art form.
“I am so proud of what we’ve done at the African American museum,” Aden said. “We have seen so many achievements and we have considerable momentum behind us, but in everyone’s person career there is a time where other opportunities present themselves and this is just one of those instances.”
Aden joined the museum staff in 2010 as senior vice president. Serving as president since 2012, she conceived the campaign to “Re-Imagine AAMP,” a successful multi-year initiative to engage new audiences, heighten the museum’s visibility and increase admissions.
“We decided that we would really celebrate the Black experience and we’ve done that through a number of exhibitions and public programs that have brought more and more people through the doors of the museum,” Aden said, reflecting on the institution’s strides.
“From ‘The Supremes Come See About Me’ exhibit, which brought in a very diverse group of people, to our more recent exhibits where we have really ventured into issues that are really timely and pertinent to the African-American community, I think the work that we have been doing has really resonated not only with the African-American community, but an audience that has grown to include … New York and Washington, D.C. So I’m very proud of that trajectory.”
Under Aden’s leadership, AAMP increased and diversified its revenue streams by growing the museum’s corporate partnerships, gaining the support of local and national foundations, and cultivating relationships with individual donors.
“We are deeply grateful to Patty for her visionary leadership and wish her well in this new chapter of her career,” Sabrina Brooks, chair of AAMP’s board of directors, said in a statement. “The Blues Foundation will benefit from her innovative approach to non-profit management and commitment to public engagement.
“In the near future, AAMP will announce its strategy to ensure a smooth leadership transition that continues our positive momentum. We are committed to building on AAMP’s success with our stellar staff and talented and dedicated board of directors. We welcome the continued support of the museum’s stakeholders and partners during this transition period. Their commitment to the museum has always been and will continue to be essential to our success.”
Brooks, a senior manager of Workforce Development at PECO, assumed the role of chair in July 2020 after actively serving on the board of directors for six years.
In addition to Brooks’ election as chair, AAMP has elected three new board members: Alex Alston, senior vice president and co-head of private placements at Macquarie Group; Nicole Dye-Anderson, assistant vice president for media relations at Barclays; and Greg Deavens, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Independence Health Group (Independence Blue Cross).
The AAMP is slated to reopen on Oct. 14 in conjunction with the upcoming exhibit “Rendering Justice.” The exhibit, which is being done in cooperation with the Mural Arts program, involves the formerly incarcerated making statements about social justice and mass incarceration.
“AAMP will continue to be that place where we have those uncomfortable conversations — where we face head-on the social issues that are impacting our African-American community,” Aden said.
Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.