Levine Museum of the New South Names National Leader as New President
Levine Museum of the New South announced today that Kathryn Hill, a national museum consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of History Colorado, has been named President and CEO of Levine Museum, beginning Aug. 29.
Hill brings 30 years of museum and nonprofit experience to Charlotte. She has worked in leadership positions at renowned museums in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Chicago – including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the nation’s most visited museums. She also has worked as a management consultant with more than two dozen other museums and cultural organizations around the country.
In Denver, Hill oversaw the 2012 construction of the $142 million History Colorado Center, as well as its operations, where her efforts to enhance exhibitions, build new audiences and increase visitors led History Colorado to be recognized as one of the top 12 museums in the country by the Smithsonian Institution.
“Kathryn’s depth of experience at some of the finest institutions in the country will help advance Levine Museum and our commitment to being a constructive partner in the Charlotte region,” said Andrew Plepler, Board Chair of Levine Museum of the New South. “She brings a genuine passion for using history as a vehicle to promote dialogue and civic engagement to help address contemporary challenges in our community.”
Hill succeeds Emily Zimmern, who retired after 20 years of leading Levine Museum of the New South and built the museum into a premier cultural and civic institution with a national reputation as an innovator in programming and exhibitions.
“Levine Museum was founded to use history to build community, which is what attracted me to this position,” said Hill, who lives in Denver and most recently worked as a senior consultant with Schultz & Williams, a Philadelphia firm providing services to nonprofit organizations nationally.
“The opportunity at Levine Museum is a logical extension of the work I began 30 years ago,” she said. “I can’t imagine a better place to lead a museum than in a vibrant city like Charlotte that is growing so rapidly. Charlotte needs an institution that helps us understand our present in the context of our shared past in order to inform the decisions we make for the future.”
Hill said she will continue Levine Museum’s emphasis on building relationships between the museum and the community by offering programs and exhibitions that tell the stories of the diverse people who comprise the community and engage audiences in civic, civil discussion of today’s most important issues.
She has a passion for the visitor experience: Hill founded the visitor services program at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History in the late 1980s, as museums began a shift from catering to elite audiences. She also ran Visitor Services at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, where she was a member of the charter management team, responsible for planning and managing front-line operations.
In 2002, Hill led the effort to open Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta, which involved facilities planning, exhibit design, fundraising and staffing. She then served as the museum’s interim CEO before moving to Denver.
As Chief Operating Officer, beginning in 2008, Hill transformed the Colorado Historical Society into a 21st Century center for learning and civic engagement. The 200,000-square-foot History Colorado Center surpassed visitor and revenue projections, and quickly became a community hub. When civil unrest erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, the Center hosted conversations between residents and Denver police. In 2012, it offered a live broadcast and bi-partisan town hall discussion following the Presidential debate at the University of Denver.
“We are thrilled to welcome Kathryn to Charlotte and Levine Museum. Not only is she a proven leader and expert in the museum field, she also shares the museum’s passion for history, dialogue and community,” said Liz Simmons, incoming Levine Museum Board chair and search committee member.
Raised in Ann Arbor, Mich., Hill received a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, completed graduate courses in theater at Northwestern University in Illinois, and was a Gates Family Foundation Fellow at Harvard University in a leadership program for state and local government officials.
Hill also ran a successful independent consulting practice for 15 years, leading and supporting projects at museums including Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the Newseum in Arlington, Va., Port Discovery in Baltimore, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. She served on planning teams for other cultural centers, such as the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, and created visitor services programs for organizations including the Exploratorium in San Francisco and The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.