The Woodruff Arts Center said today that Doug Shipman has resigned as president and CEO, effective August 31.
Hala Moddelmog, former president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, will replace Shipman on an interim basis while the Woodruff does a national search for a permanent replacement.
In a press release, Shipman said he informed the Woodruff in February of his intentions to leave after three years of leading the organization. The Woodruff Arts Center is Atlanta’s foundational arts organization, overseeing the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Alliance Theatre. It is the third-largest arts center in the United States.
“It has been an honor to lead one of Atlanta’s most important institutions,” Shipman said in the press release. “I’m excited with the incredible progress in expanding and diversifying patrons that has occurred across the entire campus as well as the sizable investments made to improve our operations and facilities. I informed the board in February of my departure, and we have worked together to respond to the impacts of Covid-19 and undertake a smooth leadership transition. I look forward to continuing to support the Woodruff Arts Partners and the entire Atlanta arts community in the future.”
One of his missions at the Woodruff was expanding the center’s support of Atlanta’s arts ecosystem, which often gets overshadowed by the enormity of the Woodruff. He oversaw a makeover of the High Museum and a new theater for the Alliance and helped ease traditional tensions between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its musicians.
Shipman, who is the founding CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, told ArtsATL that he wants to be to be more involved in the winds of social change that have swept across the country. “This moment is the seminal moment of my lifetime — the moment that will define how my generation is judged and how my children and grandchildren will live,” he said in a post on social media. “As a student of the modern American civil rights movement, I deeply feel this is the equivalent moment I will live through.”
Shipman said he wants to be more directly involved in addressing injustices of the past and present. “I do not know exactly what pathway I will take, and I will need friends to help me navigate the road ahead,” he said. “But I know that in the coming days I want to be working daily and directly on the issues of social justice and community impact. I love Atlanta and I’m excited to find ways to make it a more perfect place, especially for those left behind for far too long.”
Doug Hertz, the Woodruff Arts Center Board board chair, said they are sorry to see Shipman leave, “but we respect his decision and wish him the best in the next phase of his career. We are incredibly fortunate to have a respected executive like Hala stepping into the CEO role.”
Moddelmog was the first woman to lead the Metro Atlanta Chamber, taking over as CEO in 2014. “The entire community has witnessed Hala’s exceptional leadership,” Hertz said. “We look forward to Hala bringing those skills to the arts center as we continue to navigate the current realities of Covid-19.”
Moddelmog has previously served as a Woodruff trustee, governing board member and cochair of the Alliance Theatre board. “I am truly honored to step into the CEO role at such a treasured Atlanta institution,” she said. “I’ve been involved with the Woodruff Arts Center for over a decade, and I look forward to helping guide the organization as we serve our community virtually and reopen our facilities for our patrons.”
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