New Exec for Self Help Graphics

Transition marks new chapter for 30-year old institution

Published on LatinoLA: April 30, 2005

New Exec for Self Help Graphics

Self Help Graphics & Art, the leading Chicano/Latino visual arts cultural center, announced that Executive Director, Tomas Benitez, is leaving his position at the end of June to pursue new opportunities. The Board of Directors also announced they are launching a nationwide search for a new Executive Director. Plans are to select a new Executive Director to begin in July.

"We thank Tomas for his commitment to Self Help and look forward to his new role on the Honorary Board," said Olivia Montes, president of the Board of Directors. ?I am excited for him as he opens a new chapter in his career and his life.? Under Tomas' leadership, artistic programming continued forward after the death of founder, Sister Karen Boccalero in 1999. Curatorial partnerships were established with LACMA, UCLA. MOMA. The Natural History Museum, as well as internationally, and funding relationships were forged with the Getty, the Warhol Foundation, in addition to public funding from county, state and national sources.

"I am honored and proud to have been a part of Self Help and its extraordinary work and accomplishments," said Tomas Benitez. "I take this step knowing that Self Help will continue to flourish thanks to the staff, our Board of Directors and our committed volunteers, all of whom have remained steadfast in their commitment to our mission. I thank our many community partners and supporters whose personal and professional efforts and contributions have enhanced our programming activities, exhibitions and overall image.?

This transition comes at a key time for reshaping Self Help and further building on new strategies the organization has been addressing since last summer. The non-profit environment today requires aggressive strategies to tap private foundations and corporate funding to supplement government and grass roots fundraising campaigns.

Tomas Benitez, joined Self Help in 1990 and became Executive Director in 1999. He will stay on as a consultant and assist in the transition period and join the search committee to select and train his successor. Going forward, he will continue his involvement with Self Help Graphics as a member of the Honorary Board, which includes Cheech Marin, Lalo Alcaraz, Armando Duron, Antonia Hernandez, Tony Plana and Jesus Trevino among others.

The Board of Directors has been actively planning growth strategies at Self Help Graphics since last July 2004.

Key Board initiatives include: Restructuring staff to match core programs; Reprioritizing funding efforts to balance private and public sources; Developing new models for leadership and artistic direction; and Securing capital to fund extensive building repairs

Montes states, ?Like many non-profit arts organizations, Self Help faces increasing challenges that require creative solutions. After damage caused by the record rains, funding for building repair and improvements is absolutely critical. We have a full calendar of events and exhibitions and invite funders and supporters to come forward to join us in making this possible.?

A national search for Benitez? successor will commence immediately. Advising the search committee will be: Cheech Marin, actor and longtime art collector, Chon Noriega, Director of UCLA?s Chicano Studies Research Center, and Max Benavidez, Los Angeles essayist, critic and poet who has written widely on Chicano art and culture.

Candidate reviews will begin in May with a target hire date in July. Interested candidates should review the job description posted at www.selfhelpgraphics.com or email to selfhelpboard@earthlink.net for more information.

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