Officials at HistoryMiami museum have named prominent Miami businessman Ramiro A. Ortiz and veteran museum executive Stuart A. Chase to lead the organization.
The leadership search began last May, after the former CEO Robert McCammon stepped down after eight years on the job.
Several board members recommended Ortiz, a banker long involved with many community organizations, said Faith Mesnekoff, museum chair.
“We thought, ‘It’s a long shot, but maybe we can convince him -- and we did,” Mesnekoff said.
Originally the museum sought a single leader, then decided to return to its previous team structure of a CEO/ president and a separate museum director as it expands this fall.
“We realized we needed to go back to the original structure, with (Chase) inside who really knows the museum world, understands the museum culture and arts community as a whole ... and Ortiz is exactly what we need on the outside, to open doors and increase and improve our profile and visibility,” Mesnekoff said.
Prior to joining the museum, Ortiz led Bank United and SunTrust Bank Miami as the president and CEO. He also has served on the boards of many local civic organizations, including the United Way, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Chase has worked in museums across the country for more than 20 years, most recently as the CEO of 1Berkshire, a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts. Before that he was executive director for the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass.
The team has plenty to do. The museum faces stiff competition for both funding and visitors as cultural institutions including the Miami Art Museum and the Miami Museum of Science open new bayfront facilities in the coming months. HistoryMiami will expand from 40,000 square feet to 100,000 in the fall, taking over the Miami-Dade Cultural Plaza building on Flagler Street that now houses the art museum.
Chase will use his strengths to expand programs, membership activities and physical exhibits, and Ortiz will develop business strategies to grow audience and increase the museum’s visibility.
“I want to make sure that we’re relevant and accessible to everyone in the County,” Ortiz said. “We’re going to listen to what the market wants from us.”
HistoryMiami wants to partner with many institutions, from colleges to community organizations, Ortiz said.
“Over the years there have been entities that have duplicated efforts,” Ortiz said. “We don’t want to do that.”