Fleisher Art Memorial Announces Monica Zimmerman as Executive Director

PHILADELPHIA, October 20, 2022 — The Board of Directors of Fleisher Art Memorial announces the appointment of Monica Zimmerman as its next Executive Director. She will replace Interim Executive Director Rebecca O’Leary, who has led Fleisher since last fall. Zimmerman joins Fleisher after 17 years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), where she currently serves as Vice President of Public Education, Engagement and Museum Operations.

“Monica Zimmerman’s experience and leadership style bring just the type of perspective that Fleisher Art Memorial needs right now, guiding the institution into an exciting new chapter,” says FAM Board President Mark B. Goodheart. “Her experience demonstrates a deep commitment to examining how cultural institutions are managed, strengthening their ability to meet their missions and contribute to public life while continuing to look forward. Monica’s arrival at Fleisher will coincide with a significant anniversary for our organization, founded by Samuel S. Fleisher almost 125 years ago with an unwavering commitment to making art education accessible in Philadelphia. Under her leadership, Fleisher will continue to thrive, educate, innovate, and adapt.”

Zimmerman, who will join Fleisher on December 1st, has been working in the Philadelphia community art space since 2004. She has dedicated her work to making the arts more integrated into community life, both through her roles at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as through consultancies with area organizations such as the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Taller Puertorriqueño.

At PAFA, Zimmerman was responsible for overseeing programming, exhibitions, and staff that serve the institution’s diverse audiences, providing direction and administrative oversight to all public-facing work as well as to the development of institution-wide exhibitions, partnerships, and strategic initiatives. From the successful endowment and building of a Community Engagement Center as a new site for community classes and exhibitions inside the museum galleries to the coordination of 16 academic partnerships with nearby universities, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to sharing resources and maximizing collaborative outcomes. With a focus on increased philanthropy for public programming, Zimmerman also helped generate over $1 million in new individual, government and foundation gifts for arts education over the course of five years. Whether working with first generation immigrants to create a bilingual education team or teens participating in the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) initiative, her work has enabled a deepening sense of community in creative spaces.  

“I’m beyond thrilled to step into the Executive Director role at Fleisher Art Memorial at such a critical moment,” said Zimmerman. “For 125 years, Fleisher has modeled what being a community anchor really looks like and the work that has already been done by the institution to bring art and creativity into the City with a service mindset is unparalleled. Many organizations are just realizing they need to look outside their own walls, but Fleisher has been soul searching and building capacity in this area ahead of its peers. The Fleisher values have attracted extraordinary staff and faculty and built lifelong relationships with audiences. With such a great team and community, I know we are going to accomplish magical, empathic, remarkable things together.”

Zimmerman has served on the Board of Trustees at Wheaton Arts and has been a peer reviewer and lead reader for grant programs facilitated by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. As a lecturer at Thomas Jefferson University, Rowan University, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, she has led medical and nursing students through a Humanities Selective curriculum integrating empathy, observational skills, unconscious bias training, and primary research. Since 2005, she has been involved in the evaluation and survey-based analysis of museum initiatives, long-term engagement, and arts-based learning outcomes, presenting at conferences and symposiums around the US and abroad. Zimmerman holds a B.A. in English from Goshen College and an M.A. in Museum Communication from University of the Arts.

About Fleisher Art Memorial

Founded by industrialist Samuel S. Fleisher in 1898 as one of the nation’s first community-based art centers, Fleisher Art Memorial is renowned for its long-standing mission of making art accessible regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience. In 2023, Fleisher will celebrate its 125th anniversary as the center continues to provide free and low-cost studio art classes along with opportunities for emerging and seasoned artists to exhibit their work. Extensive arts education and community-based programming also reflects the organization’s commitment to serving and strengthening communities in Philadelphia by developing, sharing, and promoting creative resources.

Major support of Fleisher Art Memorial is provided by the William Penn Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation, and PNC Arts Alive. Fleisher receives state art funding support through grant/s from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Christopher Ludwick Foundation, Robert Lehman Foundation, Sheila Fortune Foundation, Dolfinger McMahon Foundation, and the Christopher Lindback Foundation.


Media Contact:

Erin Sweeny
Director of Communications
Fleisher Art Memorial
215-922-3456 ext. 350

Photo credit: Andi Avery

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