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The Barnes Foundation Names Sheronda Whitaker Deputy Director for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer

Promotion underscores the Barnes’s long-standing commitments to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; enhancing work culture; and supporting staff

Philadelphia, PA, March 30, 2022—Thom Collins, Neubauer Family Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation, today announced the promotion of Sheronda Whitaker, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, to Deputy Director for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer. A human resources professional with over 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit, business, and financial sectors, Whitaker joined the Barnes as Director of Human Resources in 2018 and became Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer in 2020. Her most recent promotion underscores the Barnes Foundation’s long-standing commitments to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) initiatives, supporting its staff and volunteers, and enhancing workplace culture.

“Every day I am inspired by the creativity and collaborative spirit of our staff as they work to fulfill our educational mission,” says Thom Collins. “Sheronda’s promotion is an acknowledgment of her exceptional work on behalf of the Barnes community over the past three years and is reflective of our institutional commitment to the crucial work of the Human Resources department, which provides the support and training our staff and volunteers need to thrive and grow. I look forward to our continued work together as we expand efforts to build and diversify our workforce, create equitable opportunities for staff advancement, and enhance our workplace culture.”

At the core of Whitaker’s role is the design and execution of effective strategies to fulfill the institution’s enduring commitments to DEAI. She collaborates with staff across every department to ensure the Barnes is a welcoming and supportive work environment for all staff and volunteers. Under her leadership, the Human Resources department expanded to include a position dedicated to staff training, equitable and inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, and supporting the design and implementation of DEAI initiatives.

Also under Whitaker’s leadership, the Barnes deepened its commitment to strengthening its work culture with the development of a cross-departmental Culture Action Team, which formed a plan in 2020 to address staff interests and concerns for the upcoming year. One of these initiatives, the Pathways Program, now offers structured internal learning opportunities and career planning in various museum fields, as well as the potential for advancement, to frontline staff throughout the year.

Whitaker’s work is aligned with the Barnes Foundation’s new strategic priorities and goals to strengthen its commitments to accessible education and diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the years to come.

Whitaker has served on the Board of Directors of the YWCA Delaware and Ingleside Homes. She holds an MS in human resource development from Villanova University and a BS from the University of Louisville, Kentucky. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, Philadelphia Society for Human Resources Management, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. The Barnes collection is displayed in ensembles that integrate art and objects from across cultures and time periods, overturning traditional hierarchies and revealing universal elements of human expression. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings—including the largest groups of paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cézanne in existence—the Barnes brings together renowned canvases by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, and Vincent van Gogh, alongside African, Asian, ancient, medieval, and Native American art as well as metalwork, furniture, and decorative art.

The Barnes Foundation was established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” A visionary collector and pioneering educator, Dr. Barnes was also a fierce advocate for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and the economically marginalized. Committed to racial equality and social justice, he established a scholarship program to support young Black artists, writers, and musicians who wanted to further their education. Dr. Barnes was deeply interested in African American culture and became actively involved in the Harlem Renaissance, during which he collaborated with philosopher Alain Locke and Charles S. Johnson, the scholar and activist, to promote awareness of the artistic value of African art.

Since moving to Philadelphia in 2012, the Barnes Foundation has expanded its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice, teaching visual literacy in groundbreaking ways; investing in original scholarship relating to its collection; and enhancing accessibility throughout every facet of its programs.

The Barnes Foundation is situated in Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people. Read our Land Acknowledgment.

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Deirdre Maher, Director of Communications
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