Arlington, VA – February 22, 2024—After a comprehensive national search, Marilyn Jackson has been named the next President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. Jackson will assume her role on April 22, 2024.

Marilyn is currently the President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. She is an accomplished strategic nonprofit executive and passionate advocate for education who takes an entrepreneurial approach to revenue generation. Marilyn has worked in the cultural sector for fourteen years and will be the first person of color and the first Black woman to lead AAM.

“We are thrilled to announce Marilyn Jackson as the next President and CEO of AAM,” said Jorge Zamanillo, Chair of AAM’s Board of Directors and Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino. “Marilyn brings the right combination of museum, nonprofit, higher education, foundation, and organizational experience. A creative and forward-thinking leader, I am confident that she will lead AAM to even greater success in the years ahead.”

Under Jackson’s leadership at the Ali Center, the organization launched a new strategic plan, surpassed revenue goals, and overhauled its website to position it as the premier digital platform for learning about Ali and his enduring impact. Jackson also spearheaded the establishment of the Center for Humanity and Justice, a hub for the organization’s impact programs including curriculum development, youth leadership initiatives, DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion) training, and professional development for educators. For her accomplishments with the Ali Center, Jackson was presented with a 2023 Most Admired CEOs award by the Louisville Business Journal. Prior to her role at the Ali Center, Jackson served as the Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer at the United Way of Metro Chicago, a $55 million organization committed to building stronger neighborhoods and communities by advancing healthcare, education, financial stability, and safety for every Chicago resident.

Earlier in her career, Marilyn served as the Director of Marketing at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, as VP of Marketing and Membership at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), and as Manager of Strategic Planning and Special Initiatives at Six Flags theme parks (a Time Warner Company). Marilyn serves on the Board of the Trotter Project, a nonprofit that advances food security, and has previously served on the board of the Wolcott School, which serves students with learning differences, and on the Museum Committee at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

“Museums and cultural institutions are vital assets that play crucial roles in educating, uniting, inspiring, delighting, and fostering empathy in our communities,” said Marilyn Jackson. “I am honored to embark on the journey of leading the museum sector into an exciting new chapter, building upon the successes achieved under AAM’s current strategic plan, and exploring innovative ways to foster growth and enhance the sector’s support for our communities.”

Born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marilyn earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and her BS in Biology and Society from Cornell University.

Dr. Chevy Humphrey, Immediate Past Chair of AAM’s Board of Directors, chaired the committee that led the thorough and rigorous search in partnership with Russell Reynolds Associates.

“It’s been an honor to chair the search committee for AAM’s next leader,” said Humphrey, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago. “In Marilyn, we found a visionary and transformative leader who will help drive AAM to new and different heights. Her strong leadership and marketing skills, coupled with her firsthand experience working and collaborating with different museums, will serve AAM and its members exceptionally well.”

Marilyn succeeds former President and CEO Laura Lott. The Board of Directors is thankful to Brooke Leonard for her dedicated leadership as AAM’s Interim CEO since June 2023, and looks forward to her resuming her role as AAM’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff. The Alliance Board is thrilled to introduce Marilyn further at the 2024 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Baltimore this May.

About the Search Committee

The search committee was chaired by Dr. Chevy Humphrey, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Members included Carole Charnow, President & CEO, Boston Children’s Museum; Larry Dubinski, President & CEO, The Franklin Institute; Lori Fogarty, Director & CEO, Oakland Museum of California; William Harris, President & CEO, Space Center Houston; Linda Harrison, Director & CEO, The Newark Museum of Art; Dr. Douglas Jones, Director and Professor, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida; Julissa Marenco, Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, Smithsonian Institution; Michelle Provaznik, CEO, American Public Gardens Association; Nathan Richie, Director, Golden History Museum and Park, and Jorge Zamanillo, Founding Director, National Museum of the American Latino.


About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) is the only organization representing the entire museum field, from art and history museums to science centers and zoos. Since 1906, AAM has been championing museums through advocacy and providing museum professionals with the resources, knowledge, inspiration, and connections they need to move the field forward.