Deana Haggag (she/her) is an arts administrator, cultural worker, and strategic advisor. She is currently a Program Officer in Arts and Culture at the Mellon Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation in May 2021, she was the President & CEO of United States Artists, a national arts funding organization based in Chicago, IL. During her tenure, USA saw unprecedented growth, expanding its Fellowship award program, launching the Berresford Prize, and developing coalition efforts to advance support for individual artists most notably including Artist Relief, a $25 million COVID-19 emergency fund, and Disability Futures, a multi-disciplinary initiative supporting disabled creative practitioners. Before joining USA in February 2017, she was the Executive Director of The Contemporary, a nomadic and non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, MD, for four years. At The Contemporary, she was credited for reviving the museum and turning it into a vital cultural institution in Baltimore. During her tenure, she grew the museum’s budget and staff, helped commission award-winning artist projects, and created a number of resources to bolster the cultural community in the region.
In addition to her leadership roles, Deana is a strategic advisor to cultural foundations and philanthropic initiatives including the Ruth Foundation for the Arts and Chanel Next Prize. She also lectures extensively, consults on various art initiatives, contributes to cultural publications, and has taught at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Towson University. She is on the Boards of MoMA PS1 and the Pillars Fund, as well as on the Editorial Advisory of Art&.
I really believe in artists. Societies are only as strong as the stories we leave behind and that innovation isn’t possible without imagination. The moral infrastructure of this country is doomed unless we let culture lead. In every sense, artists are on the front lines of those issues. And they give us so much! We wear their clothes, listen to their music, read their books, watch their films, and study their paintings. We tweet their quotes, post their art, and cite their ideas in our conversations. We spend our whole lives soaking up their work to figure out who we are and how to express ourselves. It’s how we self-actualize.