Earlier this month the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture appointed Terri Lee Freeman as the institution’s new executive director.
Freeman comes to Maryland from the National Civil Rights Museum located in Memphis. As president of the National Civil Rights Museum, Freeman increased the organization’s annual budget by nearly fifty percent over the six years of her leadership.
Freeman will be the museum’s seventh executive director and the sixth since the museum’s opening in 2005. The museum’s first director Nikki DeJesus Sertsu left the institution in 2003 a few months before building construction began. Prior to Freeman’s appointment, Jackie Copeland held the position for eighteen months. Copeland told the Baltimore Sun that she resigned because “the board told me it wanted to go in a different direction with the museum’s leadership.” Copeland described disagreements with the board over when to reopen the museum during the COVID-19 pandemic and over what fundraising methods the institution should pursue.
Drew Hawkins, chairman of the Lewis board of directors, described his optimism about Freeman’s leadership. “This may be the first time the Lewis will have someone in the driver’s seat with prior experience of running a museum — and Terri is coming from one of the most prominent institutions in the country. Her fundraising capabilities are unmatched. She connects with people well, and she and her husband own a home in Howard County. We really think she can take us to the next level,” Hawkins said.
Terri Lee Freeman will begin leading the Lewis on February 15th.