Southern Exposure Announces Resignation of Executive Director

(Photo: Southern Exposure)

San Francisco visual arts nonprofit Southern Exposure announced Thursday that its Executive Director Patricia Maloney, who has held the position since March 2016, will resign at the end of 2018.

“Over the past several months, the staff and Board of Southern Exposure have undertaken the work collectively to reconceive organizational roles in order to fully support the organization’s mission and operating values,” an announcement sent by Maloney to the nonprofit’s email list reads. “In the process of undertaking this realignment, and to ensure the organization’s new needs are met, I have made the decision to step down as Executive Director at the end of this year.”

Maloney entered the role following the departure of previous executive director Courtney Fink, who held the position for 13 years. Leigh Lehman, who worked as the interim executive director after Fink’s departure, will return to Southern Exposure in November to co-direct the organization with newly promoted Artistic Director Valerie Imus as Maloney moves into a consulting role. The board of directors will launch a search for the next ED within Southern Exposure’s new organizational structure in early 2019.

“Southern Exposure is evolving and we are sad to see Patricia go,” says Imus, who has been the exhibitions and projects program director at Southern Exposure since 2011. “We’re very excited about the future. This kind of co-leadership thinking is in some ways an evolution of the original artistic collective model that SoEx was founded on. And it’s also thinking about what an institution needs to be right now.”

Maloney’s planned resignation comes at the end of a year of personnel instability for the nonprofit, which has traditionally employed a full-time staff of five, including the ED. In February, Vreni Michelini Castillo, who was hired as a part-time paid development fellow to assist with the Alternative Exposure grant program and Southern Exposure's annual auction, left the organization four months in advance of the June 2018 end of her fellowship. Associate Director Nick Wylie and Director of Artists in Education Maya Gomez left their positions in late February, and Communications Director Lisa Martin left in early March.

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The “realignment” of Southern Exposure’s staffing will result in a more horizontal structure, Maloney says. “The ED role is shifting much more into a fundraising role—that’s not where my core strength is” she says of her decision to resign.

In addition to Imus, the Southern Exposure staff now includes a full-time engagement coordinator, a part-time artist-in-education facilitator and a part-time lead preparator. The nonprofit will post an opening for an external relations manager next week; they seek to fill the position as soon as possible.

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