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Shelly Lowe, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson.

Biden’s Picks to Head NEH, NEA: Shelly Lowe and Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson

If confirmed, Lowe will be the first Native American head of the NEA, and Jackson the first African American and Mexican American to lead the NEA.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Yesterday President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Shelly Lowe to be chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson to be chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Both are leaders in their respective fields and dedicated public servants whose careers have demonstrated their commitment to advancing the development of and access to the arts and humanities across America. If they are confirmed, Shelly Lowe will be the nation’s first Native American to serve as chair of the NEH, and Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson will be the first African American and Mexican American to serve as NEA chair.

Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation who grew up on the Navajo reservation in Ganado, Ariz. She is currently a member of the National Council on the Humanities, an appointment she received from President Obama. Her career in higher education has included administrative roles such as executive director of the Harvard University Native American Program, assistant dean in the Yale College Deans Office, and director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University.

For her part, Jackson has had a long career in strategic planning, policy research, and evaluation with philanthropy, government, and nonprofit organizations. Her work appears in a wide range of professional and academic publications, and she has been a speaker at scores of national and international conferences. She has served as an advisor on philanthropic programs and investments at national, regional and local foundations. Dr. Jackson is a tenured institute professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA) at Arizona State University, where she also holds an appointment in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

In 2013, President Obama appointed Dr. Jackson to the National Council on the Arts. She also served as co-chair of the County of Los Angeles Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative, and continues to serve as an advisory board member. She is currently on the advisory boards of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Equity Center at the University of Virginia, the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) and L.A. Commons, an arts intermediary organization focused on bridging communities through stories and creative practice. She serves on the board of directors of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (the Music Center), the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. For 18 years, Dr. Jackson was at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based national public policy research organization, and founding director of UI’s Culture, Creativity and Communities Program. Dr. Jackson earned a Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California.

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