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Leader of African American Museum in Philadelphia resigns to take job in Memphis

President and CEO Patricia Wilson Aden will leave the museum at the end of September to lead the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

Patricia Wilson Aden, president and CEO of the African American Museum of Philadelphia.
Patricia Wilson Aden, president and CEO of the African American Museum of Philadelphia.Read more

The leader of the African American Museum in Philadelphia is stepping down. President and CEO Patricia Wilson Aden will leave at the end of September to take the same role at the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

During her tenure, Aden conceived a “Re-Imagine AAMP” campaign to “engage new audiences, heighten the museum’s visibility, and increase admissions,” said a museum announcement Monday of her departure. “Under Aden’s leadership, AAMP increased and diversified its revenue streams by growing the museum’s corporate partnerships, gaining the support of local and national foundations, and cultivating relationships with individual donors.”

The museum, at Seventh and Arch Streets, was recently part of competing proposals for further development of Penn’s Landing that would have moved the museum to the waterfront, though the prevailing proposal did not include the museum.

Monday’s announcement did not make reference to a search for a new president and CEO.

Rather, “in the near future, AAMP will announce its strategy to ensure a smooth leadership transition that continues our positive momentum,” said board chair Sabrina Brooks in a statement. “We are committed to building on AAMP’s success with our stellar staff and talented and dedicated board of directors. We welcome the continued support of the museum’s stakeholders and partners during this transition period.”

» READ MORE: As the nation reckons with racism, Philly’s African American Museum is wildly underfunded | Opinion

Aden joined the museum in 2010 as senior vice president, becoming president in 2012. Brooks became board chair in July after six years on the board of directors.

Monday’s announcement also noted the election of three new board members: Alex Alston, a senior vice president at Macquarie Group; Nicole Dye-Anderson, assistant vice president for media relations at Barclays; and Greg Deavens, executive vice president, CFO, and treasurer at Independence Health Group.

Prior to joining the museum, Aden served several years as the executive director of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, based in Philadelphia.

In her new role with the Blues Foundation in Memphis, she will oversee two major annual programs: the Blues Music Awards and the International Blues Challenge, a global competition held in Memphis.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia, which shut down in mid-March because of the pandemic, is tentatively scheduled to reopen to the public on Oct. 16 with a new exhibit, “Rendering Justice,” a collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia focused on incarceration and social justice.

The museum, with an annual budget of $2.5 million, relies heavily on public admissions and facility rentals, so the pandemic “has really been a challenge for the museum,” Aden said. The museum was able to secure a federal pandemic loan and received a small boost in funding from the city.

Despite the virus-related adversity, Aden said she believes the museum “is in a very good place.”

Staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.