Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center

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Mashantucket, CT


Joe Baker appointed Executive Director

We are pleased to announce that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe has appointed Joe Baker as the new Executive Director of the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut. Baker began his new role on October 1, 2020. 

"We are pleased that Joe will lead the Museum and Research Center's transition into a new phase," said Rodney Butler, Tribal Council Chairman.  "Joe has invigorated cultural organizations through innovative program development, skillful management, and effective fundraising. He is a Native American artist with deep commitment to his heritage and the larger world of indigenous cultural expression." 

"I am overjoyed to join the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the premiere Native culture and research facility in the United States," Baker said. "I am especially excited to embrace the challenges of this museum, which is managed by and for Native people.  The Pequot are closely linked to my own people, the Lenape, being the first Native populations to experience contact with Europe, and all that followed." 

Baker comes to Mashantucket from the Palos Verdes Art Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, California where he has served as Executive Director for the last six years. During that time, he raised the institution's profile dramatically from a local concern to a museum drawing attention and audiences throughout the greater Los Angeles area through contemporary art exhibitions in partnerships with the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Scripps Research Institute, and the Salk Institute, among other entities. He co-founded and serves as volunteer Executive Director of the Lenape Center Ltd. in New York City, promoting the Lenape language and the creation, development, distribution and exhibition of Lenape arts and culture. Joe also previously served as Executive Director of Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans. An example of his innovative programming there was a partnership with Xavier University to commission and present a new opera set in 1961 New Orleans as the Freedom Riders were scheduled to arrive. He also served the City of Phoenix's Arts and Culture Office as Director of Arts in Education, before working as Outreach Manager and then Curator of Fine Arts at the Heard Museum. 

Baker holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tulsa in Painting and Drawing, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design from the University of Tulsa, and he completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.   

He was selected following a national executive search guided by consultants Marilyn Hoffman and Scott Stevens of Museum Search & Reference. Baker succeeds Donna Capoverde, a longtime Finance Department employee of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation who served as the Museum's Interim Executive Director from December 2017 through September 2019. 

Many people helped with this search as nominators, references or candidates, and Scott and Marilyn are grateful to each of them.