Red Hook

Pioneer Works names Mara Manus Chief Executive Officer

Manus to lead the cultural organization into second decade of cultural excellence at the intersection of science and art

September 12, 2023 Special from Pioneer Works
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RED HOOK — The Board of Directors of Pioneer Works is pleased to announce that Mara Manus, former Executive Director for New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), has been appointed as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. Manus replaces former Executive Director, Maxine Dalio, who built a foundation of success for Mara to usher in a new era of Pioneer Works as the interdisciplinary cultural organization moves into its second decade. Jill Eisenhard has been acting as Interim Executive Director while the board conducted the search.

Janna Levin
Photo courtesy of Pioneer Works

“After an extensive search, we are elated to have found a person of Mara’s caliber who is innately capable of seeing our vision through and also motivated by it,” said Austin Hearst, Chair of Pioneer Works’s Board of Directors. “She brings a deep level of experience in leading arts organizations through critical junctures, allowing them to scale sustainably while increasing their impact on local and national communities. As we look to accomplish some of our most ambitious endeavors in Pioneer Works’s history, her knowledge will be critical.”

Gabriel Florenz
Photo courtesy of Pioneer Works

As CEO of Pioneer Works, Manus will work closely with Founder and artist Dustin Yellin, Founding Artistic Director, Gabriel Florenz, and Chief Science Officer and astrophysicist, Dr. Janna Levin, by providing strategic leadership in all critical administrative and operational aspects to fulfill the organization’s long-term vision. In this role, she will spearhead strategic organizational planning, development and financial strategy, and a capital expansion campaign that will introduce the first-ever public observatory to New York City. Manus will also work closely with newly appointed Director of Advancement, Becca Keating. 

Becca Keating
Photo courtesy of Pioneer Works

“Pioneer Works’s unique mission to uplift the arts and sciences as equally important parts of contemporary culture has always stood out to me,” said Manus. “I’m excited to build on the accessible pathways to the arts and sciences that Pioneer Works creates at such a critical time for the institution. I look forward to leading the organization in realizing our ambitious vision to bring diverse communities together to generate ideas, spark curiosity, and contribute to the cultural dialogue.”

Mara Manus spent seven years at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), where she led the largest U.S. state arts agency within the New York State Economic Development portfolio, supporting 3,000 organizations and artists. In each of the last three years, Manus secured historic funding of over $100M. In her tenure at NYSCA she also executed the agency’s first large capital grant program, and developed strategic planning to guide growth and evolution in the agency’s role. Prior to that, she served as Executive Director of the Public Theater in New York City and at the Ford Foundation as an Economic Development Officer and PRI Officer in the Arts. As the founder of the management consulting firm Manus + Co, she oversaw the launch of cultural organizations such as the Arthur Miller Foundation, Playwrights of New York, and Southampton Arts Center, and worked with nonprofits to devise effective strategies for leadership and organizational development. Manus holds a B.A. from Stanford University.

Dustin Yellin

Photo: Martyna Szczesna

Imagined by its President and Founder, artist Dustin Yellin, Pioneer Works builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and curious world. Each year, the organization welcomes thousands of guests to experience programming in the disciplines of Visual Arts, Science, Technology, Music, and Literature — 85% of which is presented free-of-charge. Leaders from across these fields present ideas, lead workshops, and engage with an audience that stretches from the local community in Red Hook, Brooklyn to across the globe. Recently, some of these leaders included luminaries such as Darren Aronofsky, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Ata Kak, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Anthony McCall, Charles Atlas, Sampha, Laurie Anderson, and others.


About Pioneer Works

Pioneer Works is an artist and scientist-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn that fosters innovative thinking through the visual and performing arts, technology, music, and science. Pioneer Works provides visual and performing artists, musicians, scientists, technologists, community organizers, and educators the resources and platform they need to expand their practices. The organization encourages experimentation and empowers curious minds across diverse communities, knowledge bases, and frames of reference; in so doing, Pioneer Works aims to accelerate culture through the free exchange of ideas and information for all.

Pioneer Works Board of Directors includes Kyra Tirana Barry; Julia Bator; David Belt; Alex Black; Mary Cunney; Mark Dalio; Tiffiney Davis; Ron Elum; Matthew Harris; Austin Hearst; Stephanie Ingrassia; Neal Katyal; Tom X. Lee;  Charles Meyer; Abby Pucker; Richard Sarnoff; Cullen L. Sinclair; Theo Spielberg; Pedro Torres-Mackie; Dustin Yellin; Leyli Zohrenejad. 

Follow Pioneer Works on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and visit their website for upcoming announcements.


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