(New York, NY. December 27, 2018) The Board of Trustees of the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) is pleased to announce that it has added two new members: philanthropist and educator Joyce Berger Cowin, a former member of the AFAM board (from 1992 to 2017), and attorney and civil rights advocate Gail Wright Sirmans.
“Joyce Berger Cowin has been an exemplary and generous benefactor throughout her relationship with the museum, and we are honored that she has rejoined the board as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the museum’s location at 2 Lincoln Square,” said Board President Monty Blanchard. “Gail Wright Sirmans brings both an energy and a wealth of experience working with many communities in New York—legal, social, cultural, and educational. Both trustees will make vital contributions to the museum as we seek to expand its presence and influence.”
Cowin, in addition to her work for AFAM, was also a trustee and benefactor of Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned her master’s degree in education. She also currently serves on the board of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. According to AFAM Director Jason T. Busch, “Joyce Berger Cowin is an inspiring philanthropist who has developed the American Folk Art Museum into the thriving artistic and cultural institution that it is today. We are honored to work with her in charting the next chapter of the museum.”
Sirmans is a lawyer, scholar, and certified neutral mediator. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Sirmans is an employment law consultant to federal agencies as well as public and private employers. She was chair of New York State Bar Association’s Civil Rights Committee as well as associate counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She and her late husband collected both traditional and contemporary art from the African diaspora. “Gail Sirmans has introduced and partnered the museum with several organizations and individuals to broaden its reach into New York communities,” says Busch. “She is a vital connector of people, institutions, and ideas.”
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About the American Folk Art Museum
Founded in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of traditional folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad. The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present.