The Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, announced today that Jaime Dempsey will leave her current position as the agency’s Executive Director in June 2021 to take on the newly created role of Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Initiatives with the Arizona Community Foundation.
“Jaime is a true professional, a passionate advocate for artists and organizations, and a determined champion for Arizona’s arts sector,” said Mark Feldman, Chair of the Arts Commission. “Though she will be missed at the Arts Commission, she leaves the agency in the capable hands of its talented and resourceful team. We are excited for Jaime in this career transition and eager to see how she will discover new ways to support an array of issues impacting the public good.”
Dempsey began her tenure with the Arts Commission in 2006 as Deputy Director. In August 2017, she accepted the position of Executive Director following the retirement of her predecessor, Robert C. Booker.
As Executive Director of the 54-year-old agency, Dempsey led a team dedicated to reimagining the role of a state arts agency in relationship with arts practitioners and community members, prioritizing agility, responsiveness, and diverse intra- and cross-sector partnerships. Additionally, during Dempsey’s tenure, the Arts Commission endeavored to provide more assertive leadership on behalf of a complex, multidimensional arts sector, and to actively undo hierarchical practices and barriers to access.
“It has been a powerful gift and honor, being a part of the Arts Commission’s trajectory over the last 15 years,” said Dempsey. “I have learned so much about Arizona’s creative potential while working alongside the most brilliant colleagues, dedicated board members, and remarkable partners across the state. I look forward to continuing and strengthening our collaborations from my new role at ACF.”
Dempsey currently serves as a member of the board of directors for Grantmakers in the Arts, a national service organization that holds racial justice in American philanthropy as a core priority. She completed a 2013 Flinn-Brown Fellowship with the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership, receiving the center’s 2018 Network Builder Award, and received a 2017 Gabe Zimmerman Award for Public Service from the Center for the Future of Arizona. Dempsey considers her experience as a collaborative performing artist to be central to her perspectives and practices across all areas of her work.
As Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Initiatives at Arizona Community Foundation, Dempsey will work on ACF’s Innovation Prizes, statewide philanthropic initiatives, development of ACF’s arts endowment, strategic grantmaking, and relationship building with major foundations.
“We are honored to have Jaime join ACF in this important role. I have worked with Jaime for many years and have admired her exceptional and creative leadership. Her experience is a perfect fit for the role ACF needs as it continues to expand across the state,” said Steve Seleznow, President and CEO of ACF.
“I have many goals for the remainder of my time at the Arts Commission,” said Dempsey. “Partners and colleagues across Arizona can count on me to do everything in my power to ensure a positive outcome for the arts in the legislative budget process, and as I exit my current role, to leave your state arts agency primed for future success in service.”
The Arts Commission’s Governor-appointed board is responsible for hiring and monitoring the effectiveness of the agency’s Executive Director. The board has begun constructing a plan for an open public search, to begin in earnest following Dempsey’s departure. More information will be shared as it becomes available.