Mayor nom­i­nates nine to board of trou­bled Amer­i­can Jazz Mu­seum

The Kansas City Star - - Local - BY MATT CAMP­BELL mcamp­bell@kc­

Seven months af­ter a con­sul­tant’s re­port slammed the 20-year-old Amer­i­can Jazz Mu­seum for lack of a clear vi­sion and iden­tity, Kansas City Mayor Sly James an­nounced nine nom­i­nees for a new board of direc­tors.

The board would be tasked with help­ing to turn around the fi­nan­cially trou­bled mu­seum in the 18th and Vine dis­trict.

In a press re­lease this week, James called the slate of nom­i­nees a “dynamic group of ex­pe­ri­enced civic lead­ers” who are “ready to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work nec­es­sary to make sure AJM is a self-sus­tain­ing, fis­cally sound or­ga­ni­za­tion with wide­spread com­mu­nity sup­port.”

A spokes­woman for the mayor said he is hope­ful that all nine nom­i­nees are ap­pointed when the in­terim board of direc­tors next meets on Nov. 20. The nom­i­nees are:

Eu­gene Agee, a busi­ness ● pro­fes­sional with 26 years at Sprint, where he man­aged $17 bil­lion in spend­ing on com­mer­cial, re­tail and tech­ni­cal space. He has served on the boards of the Na­tional Mi­nor­ity Sup­plier De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil and the 100 Black Men of Greater Kansas City.

Mitch But­ler ,a

Grammy Award-win­ning mu­si­cian who is an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of jazz at the Univer­sity of Mis­souriKansas City Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic. He has served as di­rec­tor of jazz stud­ies at Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity and Claflin Univer­sity.

Dan Cran­shaw ,a

● lawyer and board mem­ber or vol­un­teer for var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing Corner­stones of Care, Don Bosco Cen­ters, Greater Kansas City Cham­ber of Com­merce and Swope Health Ser­vices, Inc.

Mary David­son, who ● has served as the U.S. Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion’s re­gional li­ai­son for Kansas, Mis­souri, Iowa and Ne­braska. She has pre­vi­ously served as chair of the trus­tees of the Kansas City Mu­seum Foun­da­tion and as in­terim chair and CEO of the Na­tional World War I Mu­seum and Me­mo­rial.

Niki Lee Donowa,

● who has served on nu­mer­ous boards of civic or­ga­ni­za­tions and was in­volved in the first Jazz Walk of Fame medal­lion in­stal­la­tion in the 18th and Vine dis­trict in 2014.

Sally Fire­stone ,an

● ad­vo­cate for per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties who has worked with the Saint Paul School of The­ol­ogy, Kingswood Se­nior Liv­ing Com­mu­nity, the Folly The­ater and the Mayor’s Com­mit­tee for Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties. She is a quad­ri­plegic sur­vivor of the 1981 Hy­att sky­walk col­lapse and is cur­rently on the in­terim board of the Amer­i­can Jazz Mu­seum.

Mark Sap­ping­ton ,a ● lawyer and a mem­ber of

the Mis­souri Arts Coun­cil, the UMKC Friends of the Con­ser­va­tory and the UMKC Cock­e­fair Lec­ture Chair. He has served as out­side coun­sel to not-for­profit faith-based hospi­tals and health care sys­tems.

Stephe­nie K. Smith, ● ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Lin­wood YMCA, which com­pleted a $12 mil­lion cap­i­tal cam­paign.

Mary Kem­per Wolf, ● a doc­u­men­tary maker and con­sul­tant for non­prof­its and in­sti­tu­tions. She is chair­woman of the board of the Kem­per Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art.

The re­port by San Fran­cisco-based firm Mu­seum Man­age­ment Con­sul­tants was com­mis­sioned by the city to help the non­profit mu­seum, which was founded in 1997. The city pro­vides about half of the mu­seum’s funds.

In 2017, the mu­seum suf­fered a $447,000 deficit from its first-ever jazz fes­ti­val — losses the city cov­ered. The fes­ti­val turned into a ma­jor pub­lic re­la­tions black eye af­ter re­ports that checks to mu­si­cians bounced and that the mu­seum spent $18,000 on a char­tered plane to bring a per­former to town on time.

The jazz mu­seum’s for­mer di­rec­tor, Chep­too Kosi­tany-Buck­ner, and sev­eral board mem­bers left the or­ga­ni­za­tion this spring.

In May, about a month af­ter the re­port was re­leased, city coun­cil voted to take more con­trol of the mu­seum.

This lat­est an­nounce­ment seems to fol­low a rec­om­men­da­tion by the con­sul­tants to cut the mu­seum’s board of direc­tors, which had num­bered 23.

The re­port said the board was bloated and in­ef­fec­tive at fundrais­ing. Con­sul­tants rec­om­mended that the board “be pared down to a small, core group of pas­sion­ate and im­pact­ful in­di­vid­u­als (ap­prox­i­mately 8-10 peo­ple), in­clud­ing civic lead­ers, mu­seum pro­fes­sion­als, and phil­an­thropic lead­ers.”

File photo

The Amer­i­can Jazz Mu­seum at 18th and Vine is run in part­ner­ship with the city.

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