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Harold Steward. (Photo by Pat Piasecki)

Harold Steward Is Named NEFA Executive Director

After 6 years at Boston’s The Theatre Offensive, Steward will succeed Cathy Edwards in the role at NEFA.

BOSTON: The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) has announced that Harold Steward will become its next executive director. Currently serving as executive director and cultural strategist at The Theatre Offensive (TTO), Steward will officially step into their role at NEFA as of July 10. Steward will succeed Cathy Edwards, who stepped down in May 2022. NEFA has since been led by interim executive director/COO Jug Chokshi in partnership with deputy director of programs Jane Preston, and in collaboration with other senior staff.

“We are delighted to have Harold join NEFA in this role,” said NEFA board chair John Henry in a statement. “Their wealth of experience in the arts, cultural equity, leadership, strategy, and fundraising is essential to further NEFA’s mission to invest in artists and communities and foster equitable access to the arts. We are excited for the vision and energy that Harold will bring to our programs and services.” 

Steward, a cultural strategist from Dallas, joined Boston’s TTO, initially as managing director, in June of 2017. Steward previously served as manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center. In 2009, Harold founded Fahari Arts Institute in Dallas after recognizing a gap in the landscape for local LGBTQ artists of color in Dallas.

“NEFA plays an important role in the cultural landscape of New England and nationally,” said Steward in a statement. “It is exciting to have this opportunity to lead an organization of this scale whose values align with my own, and where I can bring my experience to bear alongside the dedicated NEFA staff and board.”

Steward is a member of the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group, for which they co-chair the equity, diversity, and inclusion committee. Harold is also the board treasurer for the National Performance Network, the board clerk for MassCreative, a steering committee member of the Black Theater Commons, a founding member of NextGen National Arts Network, and a founding partner of Steward Cultural Development Group.

Steward served as a cultural equity facilitator with Equity Quotient and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Theater Studies at Emerson College. About their work at TTO, Steward said in a statement, “It has been an honor to be in this work of art-making, community-forging, and future-building with you for the past six years. Now, we step into our next chapter together—in different relationships, but with the same commitment to liberation, cultural abundance, and a queer future where we can all thrive.”

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) is a nonprofit organization that provides leadership and resources that benefit artists, the public, arts funders, and policymakers throughout New England and beyond. NEFA works creatively and collaboratively to support the arts and advocate for the economic and cultural value of the creative sector.

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