February 7, 2021—I am delighted to join the chorus of those congratulating and celebrating my colleague Marcia Lynn Sells, who recently was appointed to the newly created post of Chief Diversity Officer at the Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts institution in the United States. According to the news release, Marcia joins the senior management team, reporting directly to general manager Peter Gelb, and will have a broad mandate to work across the entire institution—from the administrative staff and union employees, to the 137 year-old organization’s board of directors.
A graduate of Columbia University’s School of Law, Marcia joins the Metropolitan Opera’s staff from Harvard Law School, where, as Dean of Students since 2015, she led her team in the creation and implementation of a wide range of diversity programs. Previously, Marcia held major positions at Columbia’s School of Law, the National Basketball Association, and Reuters. She also served as an Assistant District Attorney for the state of New York, based in Brooklyn.
Before her career as a lawyer and in academia, Marcia began her life in New York City as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), headed by the late Arthur Mitchell. I first met Marcia while researching company alumni at DTH. At that time, she was an attorney in the DA’s office responsible for very challenging cases. Yet, she was committed to her efforts to support DTH’s education initiatives and was very generous with her time. We have remained in contact throughout the years, the moves and career changes. And we’ve continued our efforts to create access to the arts.
I am extremely excited about Marcia’s new role at the Metropolitan Opera as its Chief Diversity Officer, where I know she will bring her brilliance and passion for the arts to the massive job of implementing and expanding Equity, Diversity. Inclusion and Access in all facets of this classical arts organization, both internally and externally. Cheers to this much needed wave of diverse people being placed in executive roles to disrupt systemic racism in arts organization and expanding opportunities through EDI&A.
As always, I would like to know what you think. Please share your thoughts about the wave of diversity appointments at arts organizations.