National Museum of Mexican Art Names José Ochoa President and CEO

CHICAGO, Jan. 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) is pleased to announce the appointment of its new President and CEO, José Ochoa, effective today. He succeeds Museum founder, President and CEO Carlos Tortolero, who retired on December 31, 2023, after more than 40 years of leadership. Tortolero will continue in a consultative role until March 31, 2024.

Ochoa joins the Museum from the ChiArts Foundation of the Chicago High School for the Arts, where he served as President. Previously, he served as founding Executive and Artistic Director of ChiArts.

Prior to these roles, Ochoa was Superintendent of Cultural Arts for Nashville, Tenn., supervising the dance, music, theater, and visual arts departments, two museums, and the special events department.

“This is the honor of a lifetime and a full-circle moment in my life, to return to my roots but with a wealth of knowledge and experience to lead this marvelous institution into its next chapter,” Ochoa said.

“The Board sought a visionary leader who could build on the Museum’s achievements,” said Carlos R. Cardenas, Chair of NMMA’s Board of Trustees and Senior Vice President Group Manager, Wintrust Commercial Bank. “We focused on candidates with strong educator backgrounds, robust career credentials in the arts, sound financial acumen in running organizations, a history of effective fundraising, experience driving growth and operational excellence, a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, a deep appreciation for Mexican culture and art, and the ability to use the arts as facilitators for dialogue on contemporary issues that matter to our communities, as well as a passion for making the arts accessible to all people. José Ochoa embodies many of these key pillars, which led the Board to identify José as an ideal leader to continue solidifying the NMMA as the premier institution of Mexican art, culture and history, and reinforcing its role as one of America’s Cultural Treasures.” 

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to acknowledge Carlos Tortolero’s dynamic leadership and stewardship in furthering the Museum’s impact well beyond the footprint of a typical museum or community organization,” Cardenas said. “Thanks to Carlos, José inherits a strong legacy and sound footing upon which he can advance the mission of the Museum and foster continued excellence and influence. Today, the National Museum of Mexican Art stands out as the most prominent first-voice institution for Mexican art and culture in the United States. The NMMA is also a national leader and mentor for culturally and ethnically focused institutions and serves as a lighthouse on social justice issues affecting Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Latinos at the local, national, and international levels. This is the foundation Carlos leaves behind, which we are entrusted to build upon.”

A champion for art and culture, Ochoa will elevate the Museum’s national presence and reputation in his new role, creatively enhance programming, and increase impact in Chicago and beyond.

“José’s energy and empathy, his success in engaging young people and in creating opportunities all combine to make him the perfect person to lead the Museum at this exciting time in its journey,” said Carlos Tortolero.

Ochoa holds a bachelor of music performance degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and a master of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies – dance, music and theater from West Texas A&M University.

About the National Museum of Mexican Art
Located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, the National Museum of Mexican Art is one of the country’s most prominent Latino cultural organizations and the only nationally accredited museum dedicated to Mexican art and culture. In 2020, the Museum earned the honor of being named one of America’s Cultural Treasures by the Ford Foundation. Its Permanent Collection consists of more than 20,000 artworks. The Museum has presented over 150 exhibitions, provides arts education to 52,000 students each year and serves over 150,000 annual visitors from 60 countries. The Education Department is nationally recognized, and the Performing Arts Department presents events at the Museum and Millennium Park, as well as nationally and internationally. Admission to the Museum is always free.

Diane Laux

SOURCE National Museum of Mexican Art