Margie Johnson Reese


Margie Johnson Reese is an Advisor with williamsworks, bringing her 35-year portfolio as an arts advocate and arts management professional to our work with non-profits and arts organizations. She received a BA from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and an MFA in Theater from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She recently relocated to Wichita Falls, Texas to help build The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture, a new local arts agency grounded in policies and practices that advance inclusion and public participation in the arts.

Margie served a six-year tenure as Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Dallas. Prior to that appointment Margie worked in the Marketing and Audience Development offices of The Dallas Opera, Dallas Black Dance Theatre and was the Director of Education for the Ramses the Great Exhibition hosted by the Dallas Natural History Museum.

After a successful career in arts management in Dallas, she was recruited by then Mayor Richard Riordan 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 Los Angeles, Margie developed Music LA!, to provide quality music instruction to young people throughout the city. Music LA! continues to be a model arts education program after twelve years of continuous service. She also launched the city’s first International Artists Exchange Initiative with funding secured from the Coca Cola Foundation.

Margie’s expertise as a grantmaker was tapped by the Ford Foundation to advance cultural projects in West Africa. Based in Lagos, Nigeria and servicing 14 West African countries, her 3-year appointment centered on cultural policy development and conservation of West Africa’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Her skills as a collaborator brokered a relationship with The British Museum to lay the foundation for the return of important works of art to Nigerian soil. 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, an organization she helped found during her time in Dallas. Her influence called attention to the need for equitable access to quality arts education experiences for children and their families. Margie created the first Teaching Artists Fellows Initiative at Big Thought, training a cohort of master artists to guide creative learning experiences for children in out-of-school environments.

Margie continues to contribute to the field of Arts Administration as a consultant to local arts agencies and city governments, helping develop arts policies that respond to contemporary community goals. She often serves as the keynote speaker for events and conferences around the globe and is an adjunct professor at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

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