Stax Museum Collections Manager & Archivist Leila Hamdan chosen among 53 Americans to participate in National Leaders of Color Fellowship

The first cohort of the National Leaders of Color Fellowship (LoCF) program has been selected, representing 53 leaders from across the United States.

Among them is Stax Museum of American Soul Music Collections Manager & Archivist, Leila Hamdan, the only person chosen from Tennessee. She will be a member of the South Arts regional cohort.

The cohort will participate in a strategic leadership development program for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) leaders committed to the advancement of cultural equity in the arts that emphasizes policy and data in the arts, leadership, culture of care, and strategic foresight through an advocacy lens. 

An expansion of WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program, this collective support and commitment from the collaborative of the six U.S. regional arts organizations (USRAOs) (Arts MidwestMid-America Arts AllianceMid Atlantic ArtsNew England Foundation for the ArtsSouth Arts and WESTAF, the convener) aims to invest in diverse arts leadership in each respective region and across the nation. This inaugural national cohort will build on the success of WESTAF’s ELC program, which has been partnering with and supporting 100+ BIPOC arts and culture leaders since 2010.

The National Leaders of Color Fellowship program will take place virtually over an eight-month period. Each session will support fellows through meaningful experiences of validation, community, enlightenment, and accomplishment. Since its inception, the program has been intentionally led by BIPOC faculty, artists, and leaders and has not been institutionally driven—a facet that is precious and will remain intact in the program’s national expansion.


Leila Hamdan is an art historian with almost 20 years of experience in archiving, curating, and preserving works, and serving as a vital channel in educating the public about those works. Her knowledge and curiosity have helped nationally recognized cultural institutions, such as the Metal Museum and Penland School of Craft to preserve priceless American artifacts.

A lifelong steward of art and material culture, Hamdan’s dedication to its research, record and care has been rewarded with a breadth of opportunity to share the stories told by both visual and audio pieces and their creators. Hamdan is a Lebanese American from the Deep South Delta region who specializes in American and African American art and history. She processes, catalogs, and preserves ephemera and objects belonging to arts and cultural institutions to make vital information useful and accessible. As an academic, she studies works of art, music, photographs, and documents to illustrate a more nuanced and detailed story about historical events and individuals centered around the counter-narrative and the underrepresented subject. 

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