Margie Johnson Reese has a thirty-year portfolio as an arts advocate and arts management professional. She received a BA from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and a MFA in Theater from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is an advisor to the International Council of African Museums based in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a Fellow at the Salzburg Global Institute in Salzburg, Austria and a long-time board member of Americans for the Arts.
Margie served a six year tenure as Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Dallas. After her time in Dallas, she relocated to Los Angeles to serve as the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She held that position under three Mayoral administrations. During her time in LA she developed Music LA!, which provides quality music instruction to young people throughout the city.
Margie’s expertise as a grantmaker was tapped by the Ford Foundation to advance cultural projects in West Africa. Based in Lagos, Nigeria and serving 14 West African countries, her work centered on cultural policy development and conservation of West Africa’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Her leadership led to the creation of an unprecedented collaboration between the British Museum and Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments. The partnership established an initiative to strengthen technical conservation skills of Nigerian museum professionals, and contextualized the pre-museum existence of West African objects held in the collections of the British Museum. She was the driving force that enabled the scholarly work of the late Nigerian historian Dr. Ekpo Eyo’s Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, published in 2008. Through her vision and commitment to restoring dignity to West African antiquities, she became known as the “mother of the Lagos Museum.”
Following her three year service in West Africa, Margie returned to Dallas and took the position of Vice President for Programs at Big Thought. Her time is spent leveraging public and private sector resources to provide arts education experiences for children and their families. She has also contributed to countless community cultural plans as a strategic consultant for local arts agencies across the country.
Margie continues to contribute to the field of Arts Administration, and often serves as the keynote speaker at arts conferences around the globe. She is a faculty member for leadership programs organized by the National Guild for Community Arts Education and the Western States Arts Federation. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas and at Goucher College in their graduate schools of arts administration.