This profile was first published in JWeekly.
At her first photo shoot as the new executive director of the Contem-porary Jewish Museum, Lori Starr made sure at least one picture was taken of her holding open the door to the museum.
If she could, Starr would stand there all day, every day, welcoming visitors.
“It’s not just about the number of people who come through the door,” she said in a recent interview in downtown San Francisco. “It’s about the museum as a second home, as a place of salience in people’s lives. More than anything, a museum is a social enterprise.”
If her schedule in the weeks leading up to her June 10 start date — packed with meetings with staff, community leaders and representatives of other local cultural institutions —indicates how busy she’ll be, it’s impossible that Starr will be able to greet everyone who comes through the door.
While making the museum’s 125,000 yearly visitors (especially families with children, a notably high 20 percent of that total) feel welcome is toward the top of her agenda, the new director will also focus on other relationships. Outside connections are already important to the CJM, and Starr intends to increase and strengthen them.
“I have a track record of launching natural, synergetic partnerships among institutions,” she noted. “Partnerships lift everybody up.”
A longtime museum executive, notably in Toronto and Los Angeles, Starr, 59, was announced as the new executive director of the CJM on Feb. 9. In less than two weeks, she will officially assume the post, taking over for interim director Denise Childs, who stepped in following the 2011 departure of longtime director and CEO Connie Wolf.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.