First Asian American Nominated To Chair National Endowment For The Arts

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Posted on March 13, 2014

Source: Asian Fortune News

Her Chinese American upbringing in Arkansas led her to write Joy’s Discovery, a book about the art of appreciating one’s ethnic identity. Now, Dr. Jane Chu is the first Asian American nominated to head the premiere federal agency for arts appreciation, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

In a written statement released by the White House, President Obama said, “Jane’s lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City.  She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture.”

Although the current NEA acting chair, Joan Shigekawa, is Asian American, Chu is the first API to be nominated to head the organization, said a White House staffer, who commented off-the-record.

Currently, Chu serves as the president and CEO of the Kaufman Arts Center in Kansas City, Mo. There, she has a reputation effectively juggling arts promotion with fundraising and administration, according to an editorial in her hometown’s paper Kansas City Star.

As per standard procedure for nominees, Chu is not commenting to the media. Though the NEA has often served as a fodder for cultural controversies, Chu’s nomination is expected to face no major hurdles, the White House official said.

According to her staff at the Kauffman Center, Chu has an extensive performing arts background, both professionally and academically. She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance, music education and piano pedagogy from Ouachita Baptist University and Southern Methodist University, respectively. She also holds an MBA (Rockhurst University) and PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.

Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman of the Kauffman Center, said, “Although we will miss Jane Chu at the Kauffman Center, I believe the President has chosen wisely and we wish well in this important endeavor. We look forward to supporting Jane through what we hope is a speedy confirmation process. With the full support of the board of directors and Kauffman Center staff, Jane will continue to deliver the Kauffman Center’s vision of bringing outstanding performing arts to our community until she is confirmed for her new position.”