The San Diego Museum Council has named Bob Lehman, valued for his leadership skills for nonprofits, as its new executive director.
The organization’s board of directors named Lehman a “very successful nonprofit leader with expertise in organizational management, strategic planning, fundraising and institutional growth”.
“Bob’s visionary leadership as a director in performing arts organizations translates very well into our San Diego County Museums Association,” said Christine Stokes, the new chairman of the San Diego Museum Council, in a statement.
“We are incredibly happy to have him as our new managing director and look forward to the leadership he brings to the museum community.”
Lehman officially began his term on June 15, filling a position that had been vacant for more than a year. The previous managing director’s contract ended in March 2020, at which time the organization’s board of directors made “the strategic decision not to reappoint the position,” according to a spokesman due to the pandemic.
Long known in the San Diego community for his work serving veterans, LGBTQ and artistic causes, Lehman was Executive Director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus from 2013-2019. Most recently, he was director of marketing and sales for the Phoenix Theater Cultural Center in Indianapolis.
“As we reopen our city, now is the time to say hello and celebrate everything that makes San Diego such a wonderful place to visit and live, including our world-class museums and cultural institutions,” said Lehman. “I’m excited to help share the wide variety of topics and stories that tell our story and shape our future.”
In San Diego, Lehman has built a reputation as a leader in bringing communities together under the umbrella of diversity and inclusion. His efforts were recognized by the City of San Diego in 2016 when they named him Humanitarian of the Year. In the same year, the Greater San Diego Business Association named the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus “Nonprofit of the Year”.
In his new role, Lehman hopes to continue building bridges.
“I’ve always believed that if we reach out and work with the communities around us, we can achieve great things,” he told the Union-Tribune.
“That was the secret of the success of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus: We stepped beyond our stage to be seen and heard by as many different people and different communities as possible. The same applies to the effect we experience when a museum or cultural institution extends beyond its walls. By actively improving accessibility, we can involve a greater diversity of people who might otherwise never have entered a museum. “
The San Diego Museum Council is a regional network whose mission is to “connect museums and cultural institutions with the public and with one another”. It has more than 40 member organizations and supports them through training programs and marketing initiatives. Each year the organization runs regional programs, including Museum Month in February and, in partnership with the San Diego Tourism Authority, Kids Free in October.