The Arts Council of Princeton has chosen Taneshia Nash Laird, the former head of the Trenton Downtown Association, as its new executive director.
Laird is only the third director to lead the arts organization since its founding in 1967 by Bill Selden, who served as president. Anne Reeves became the group’s first director in 1983 and served until 2005, when Jeff Nathanson took over. Nathanson announced in June that he would retire from the position at the end of this year. Nash Laird was scheduled to transition into the new role through the month of December and begin full-time responsibilities in January.
Nash Laird is best known for her tenure as executive director of the TDA from 2006 to 2011, where she promoted the arts and cultural tourism in the city. She was married to Trenton activist Roland Laird, who died in 2013.
She is also been involved in the arts in Princeton. In 2014 she founded the Baker Street Social Club, a group focused on the black community in Princeton. The club hosted cultural events, mainly at the Princeton Public Library, including a poetry reading by Danny Simmons, an author, painter, and co-creator of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.
Nash Laird was recently tapped by the National Endowment for the Arts to be a grants panelist, providing recommendations on funding place-based projects throughout the country. She currently serves on the board of the Art Pride NJ Foundation.
“Taneshia Nash Laird is an exciting new leader for the Arts Council of Princeton as it moves into its next half-century,” said Ted Deutsch, board president of the Arts Council. “She brings a unique blend of arts, economic development, and marketing expertise that will help us deliver on our mission in creative ways and deepen our outreach.”
Nash Laird said she was happy to have the opportunity to lead the Arts Council.
“As an area resident for nearly two decades, I’ve watched the Arts Council of Princeton grow significantly, and I have experienced first-hand the many ways in which it invites area residents to engage in the arts through its diverse programming. For me, the appointment fulfills a lifelong dream to lead a regional arts organization and make a significant community impact.”
Together with her husband, Nash Laird is the co-author of a graphic novel, “Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from Bernard Baruch College in New York and a certificate in nonprofit executive leadership from the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers.
Arts Council of Princeton, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542. 609-924-8777. www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.