Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation names new president
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation appointed Stuart I. Graff as its new president and CEO, who will assume this role on February 1, 2016.
As CEO, Graff will be responsible for the overall direction and leadership of the organization toward the achievement of the Foundation’s mission: to preserve Taliesin and Taliesin West for future generations and enrich society through an understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas, architecture, and design.
Trained in intellectual property law and with a stellar reputation as a business leader, Graff demonstrated his ability to develop and execute cross-‐functional strategies that integrate organizations through strong and engaged teams. His leadership resulted in rapid, sustainable turnarounds of the businesses he led.
Graff studied engineering at Northwestern, and received his JD from Loyola University and his MBA from Emory University. After practicing intellectual property law for many years, he became in-house counsel at Newell Rubbermaid in 1999, where he was responsible for protecting innovation and monetizing brand equity through licensing. He was later promoted to group vice president and general counsel of Newell’s largest global business group, and then moved to become general manager of the Parker and Waterman fine writing brands, turning those businesses around in a matter of two years. Since 2009, he has been a vice president at Valspar Corporation, leading its Guardsman consumer division.
In addition to his career activities, Graff has an extensive history of board leadership and fundraising, primarily for arts and social justice organizations. Growing up in Chicago, he has a lifelong passion for 20th-‐century architecture – inspired by his first encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright’s work at age 8 – and cares deeply about the need for affordable housing and sustainable architecture in the 21st century.
“We see in Stuart a business leader whose extensive experience in intellectual property law and project management and whose personal passion for Wright will move this organization forward as we advance Wright’s ideas for a new generation,” said Alanna Mack, chair of the Foundation’s Board.
“Since I was very young, Frank Lloyd Wright has inspired me with his constant experimentation and innovation, and his unwillingness to rest on laurels. His approach to his profession has been a source of inspiration in the way I’ve chosen to live my life personally and professionally—exploring, learning, experimenting, and growing. As CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, it is my expectation that I will spend every day increasing the financial stability of the organization through both earned and contributed revenues, so that we can continue to preserve Wright’s masterpieces and advance his legacy,” Graff said, upon his selection.
Graff will succeed Sean Malone, who has led the Foundation since 2012. Under Malone’s leadership, the Foundation made great strides toward critical mission goals, including: the groundbreaking joint stewardship of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives between the Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library; an in-‐depth Preservation Master Plan program to define how Taliesin West will be preserved for generations to come; an in-‐depth tour evaluation and interpretive plan project to create the most meaningful experience possible for 100,000+ visitors every year; improving the visitor experience, resulting in top-‐tier reviews in every online venue; Energizing Taliesin West, a pioneering initiative to make the national historic landmark, a “net-‐zero” energy site; overhauling publications and social media engagement; promoting and supporting the success of Wright sites around the country; more than tripling the Foundation’s annual contributed income; and more.
“The Foundation is confident that Stuart is the perfect choice to lead the organization to build on and expand this recent success – to continue to move the organization forward and to new heights,” said Jeffrey Grip, Chair of the CEO Search Committee and immediate past Board Chair. “His experience, his passion for Wright, and his ideas will make Stuart a compelling and successful leader of the Foundation for a long time to come.”