Announcing Margaret McCarthy's departure as Executive and Co-Director

Announcing Margaret McCarthy's departure as Executive and Co-Director

It is with profound gratitude that we announce that Margaret McCarthy will be stepping down from her position as Executive and Co-Director of Southern Exposure on May 30, 2024. She has stewarded the organization strategically and nimbly for nearly five years. We appreciate her foresight, strategic thinking, and collaborative approach to leadership, as well as the undeniable zest she brings to our work and our organization. We are committed to a thoughtful and well-advised search process in the coming months and have secured an experienced Interim Executive Director to shepherd the organization during the transition alongside the continued leadership of Valerie Imus, our Artistic and Co-Director. Our newly formed Search and Transition Task Group will share updates on our process, which will include soliciting feedback from our staff, supporters, stakeholders, and friends to guide and inform our selection of a new leader for SoEx.

Our Board President, Dan Toffey, offers: “Margaret has overseen a period of impressive renewal and growth for Southern Exposure. Southern Exposure is turning 50 years old, and thanks to Margaret and Valerie’s leadership, we’re not just surviving, but thriving. Margaret has grown and strengthened our fundraising by nearly 40%. Most importantly, she and Valerie have nurtured a shared vision for the organization that consistently starts with us asking the question: What do artists need now?”

During Margaret’s time as Executive and Co-Director, SoEx celebrated several milestones. The organization’s budget grew from 650k to over 850k annually, and our staff grew from three to six, all while prioritizing paying artists above W.A.G.E. levels. When lockdown hit in 2020, SoEx worked with funding partners to shift our Alternative Exposure regranting program to direct, need-based support, regranting over $85,000 in cash to local artists. SoEx was the first arts organization in the Bay Area to bring an online auction to life, which Margaret executed with her signature aplomb. Last year, SoEx was also able to re-launch our popular Contemporary Classrooms program, where we partner with SFUSD schools to offer free in-classroom arts education. While the staff and board will deeply miss Margaret, we remain committed to providing resources, empowerment, and platforms for Bay Area and national artists to utilize creative expression to advance racial, social, and gender justice and equity.

With SoEx in a great position to find our next visionary leader, Margaret looks forward to taking a personal sabbatical and dedicating some time to her own artistic work and practice. “SoEx was founded to be, and remains, an artist-centered organization, committed to providing robust and meaningful support to all the artists we work with,” Margaret shares. “I am profoundly grateful to the staff, board, Curatorial Council, and the wider community of Southern Exposure for working with me these past several years to ensure that Southern Exposure continues to fulfill its vital role as a hub and a home for our brilliant and diverse community of radical, experimental artists. I look forward to continuing to be an active member of our SoEx community, and I hope to see many of you at our upcoming benefit art auction on Saturday, April 13!” 

Artistic and Co-Director Valerie Imus shares, “We will miss Margaret but are excited for her next creative chapter and are grateful for Margaret's leadership bringing SoEx to this new stage in our evolution. We have an incredible year of programming ahead of us. From our current exhibition, Moving Clouds, to a second event this summer in our Voices of Palestinian Futures series, to our fall 50th Anniversary exhibition, there’s so much happening at Southern Exposure, and we hope to see you at the gallery soon and often.” 

As we clarify our leadership priorities and develop the position profile, we welcome your ideas and thoughts regarding potential candidates or nominator leads to inform our search. We will offer regular updates on our process; for recommendations or questions, please reach out to [email protected]. As Southern Exposure enters its 50th anniversary, we look forward to celebrating our five decades of artistic innovation with you at our upcoming auction and raising a glass to the next 50 years.

With thanks,
The Southern Exposure Board of Directors