Margie Johnson Reese
Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture
Margie Johnson Reese has a 35-year portfolio as an arts advocate and arts management professional. She received a BA from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and an MFA in Theater from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is an advisor to the International Council of African Museums based in Nairobi, Kenya, a Fellow at the Salzburg Global Institute in Salzburg, Austria and a long-time board member of Americans for the Arts.
She recently relocated to Wichita Falls, Texas to build a new local arts agency grounded in policies and practices advancing inclusion and public participation in the arts.
Margie served a six-year tenure as Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Dallas. After her time in Dallas, she relocated to Los Angeles to serve as the General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She held that position under three mayoral administrations. During her time in Los Angeles, she developed Music LA!, which continues to provide quality music instruction to young people throughout the city.
Margie’s expertise as a grantmaker was tapped by the Ford Foundation to advance cultural projects in West Africa. Based in Lagos, Nigeria and serving 14 West African countries, her work centered on cultural policy development and conservation of West Africa’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Through her vision and commitment to restoring dignity to West African antiquities, she became known as the “mother of the Lagos Museum” for her stellar work negotiating a learning exchange partnership between the British Museum and the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
Following her three-year service in West Africa, Margie returned to Dallas and took the position of Vice President for Programs at Big Thought. Her time was spent leveraging public and private sector resources to provide arts education experiences for children and their families. Margie created the Teaching Artists Fellows Initiative at Big Thought, training a cohort of master artists to guide creative learning experiences for children in out of school environments. Margie was recognized with the 2014 National Guild for Community Arts Education’s Lifetime Service Award for her lifelong dedication to increasing young people’s access to arts learning opportunities, both in and out of school; and for her powerful advocacy and action for equity and diversity.
Margie continues to contribute to the field of Arts Administration as an advisor to local arts agencies and local municipalities, helping them develop inclusive arts policies that respond to contemporary community goals. She often serves as the key note speaker at arts conferences around the globe and is an adjunct professor at Goucher College in their graduate school of arts administration.