Women At The Helm 2011

In the Arts, Activism, Government and Human Rights, These Out Nonprofit Leaders Create Positive Change Every Day.

Ann Philbin: Director, Hammer Museum Ann Philbin jumped headlong into LGBT activism and culture as a student at the University of New Hampshire, where she and a cadre of friends staged a successful campaign for the right to form a Gay Students Organization on campus. They took their case all the way to U.S. Court of Appeals and won, a landmark achievement that is still considered one of the major legal victories of the LGBT rights movement. That was back in 1974, but “that time set the tone for my consciousness about the world. The biggest lesson for me coming out of UNH was to question authority,” Philbin told the school’s alumni magazine this year. Philbin used her anti-Establishment spirit to forge an impressive career in arts administration at The Drawing Center in New York while protesting against AIDS with ACT UP. When she took on the role of director of Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum of Art in 1999, she was primed for another challenge: Philbin relocated to the West Coast and turned a small, underwhelming institution into L.A.’s most cutting-edge center for arts and culture. Philbin spearheaded the Hammer Museum’s Contemporary Collection of more than 2,000 artworks and built an international reputation for thematic contemporary exhibitions, scholarly historical exhibitions and contemporary artists’ projects. After three decades, Philbin remains on the vanguard of culture and activism.