Freedom Center welcomes new president

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Douglass W. McDonald today announced Clarence G. "C.G." Newsome, Ph.D., as the new president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC).

Newsome, a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees, is former president of Shaw University and former Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity.

"As the Freedom Center prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Newsome is a strong leader to drive the organization forward for the next ten years," said Douglass W. McDonald, CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center and National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Newsome will bring to the NURFC more than 20 years of experience in academic and nonprofit leadership, with a record of strong fundraising, team building, community partnerships and cultivation of an entrepreneurial spirit within a nonprofit framework.

"I've worked with C.G. Newsome in his capacity as trustee of Duke University for nine years, and I have a world of respect for him," said Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University."He is a strong, intelligent, caring man and he will make a great leader for this important museum. He will also be a wonderful addition to the Cincinnati community."

NURFC's new president will join the organization just over a year after the successful merger with Cincinnati Museum Center. During that time, NURFC has achieved a balanced budget with an operating surplus and increased endowment funds 93%.

Newsome was hired after an extensive national search was conducted by Nat Sutton, vice chairman of the New York-based firm Heidrick & Struggles. The search committee was led by NURFC board member Mitchel Livingston, Ph.D., who is emeritus vice president for student affairs and chief diversity officer of the University of Cincinnati.

"C.G. has an immediate presence," remarked Dr. Livingston. "I'm confident he will make an instant impact on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the community at large."

Newsome has a strong record of bringing local, national and international relevance to the organizations he leads. As Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity, he oversaw the creation of a gallery of religious art, acquiring more than $2.7 million in church artifacts and icons, with support from the Smithsonian Institution.

He also has a record of community and corporate partnerships that have resulted in lifting up the organizations he leads as well as the community at large—from early childhood education to distance learning to biodiesel projects, his vision for social entrepreneurialism has permeated through strategic decisions that benefit the bottom line and the mission of the organizations he leads.

"C.G. is a dynamic leader who will bring excitement and energy to the Freedom Center," said Phil Castellini, chief operating officer of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of the search committee and NURFC board of trustees. "He will make an excellent ambassador of not only the Freedom Center but also the Banks neighborhood and Cincinnati overall."

Newsome saw NURFC as an opportunity to utilize his skills as an academic historian and nonprofit leader to further its mission.

"I'm passionate for the mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center," said Newsome. "The stories of the Underground Railroad dovetail with my family's own history, and as president I hope to further the values of courage, cooperation and perseverance that are edified in the history the Freedom Center upholds."

Opened on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati in 2004, the mission of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is to reveal stories of freedom's heroes, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times, challenging and inspiring everyone to take courageous steps of freedom today.

A history museum with more than 100,000 visitors annually and a budget of $5mm, it serves to inspire modern abolition through connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today's freedom fighters.

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