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Jill Paulsen Named CEO Of Cuyahoga Arts And Culture

New CAC executive director Jill Paulsen (left) with board chair Charna Sherman [David C. Barnett / ideastream]
New CAC executive director Jill Paulsen poses with board chair Charna Sherman after the Wednesday afternoon board meeting.

One of the largest local public funders of the arts in the nation has hired a new leader after a 20-month vacancy. The board of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) appointed Jill Paulsen as its executive director and CEO Wednesday.

The arts agency has hunted for a new CEO since the departure of previous director Karen Gahl-Mills in June 2018.  Board chairwoman Charna Sherman said the lengthy, nationwide search eventually ended up back home.

"What became clear is what we needed was stability. We needed the expertise of the person in our own house," Sherman said after CAC's February trustee meeting.

Paulsen served as interim director of CAC for the past year and a half and said she initially took her name out of contention for the post so she could focus on running the organization. But, she threw her hat back in the ring last fall.

"I came to realize, I want to be here. I want to be part of this team, I want to be part of the staff, I want to be part of the bigger vision that we have moving forward," said Paulsen. 

Part of that vision will be working with Arts Cleveland and the Arts and Culture Action Committee to help think through new ways to fund local arts and cultural activities, as revenues from a county cigarette tax continue to decline. 

ideastream receives support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture

David C. Barnett was a senior arts & culture reporter for Ideastream Public Media. He retired in October 2022.