Basic Info

Laura Callanan
Contributor Status:
Native AdVantage
Initial Contribution Date:
Primary Location:
New York, NY, USA

Career Info

Primary Industry:
Art, Education
Personal Career Headline:
Business Description (One-Liner):

Arts agency.

More Career Details:
Professor / Educator
Experience Timeline:
21-30 years of work experience

My Native AdVert

Career Snapshot:

Laura Callanan was appointed Senior Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in 2014, and currently serves as a Strategic Advisor to the agency. As a Scholar in Residence at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, Laura authored three MBA case studies featuring James Houghton, founding artistic director of Signature Theatre in New York; Theaster Gates and his community development activities on the South Side of Chicago; and Deborah Cullinan, executive director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco which are available through the Harvard Business Review. She was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship to continue this work on artist social entrepreneurs. Laura was previously a consultant with McKinsey & Company, a Senior Adviser at the United Nations Development Programme, Executive Director of The Prospect Hill Foundation, and Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation.

My Native AdVantage

What do you do best?:

I cross between worlds, break down silos, make connections, interpret from one field to another.

What makes you the best version of yourself?:

I think being curious is a big part of it. Looking for patterns and seeing what’s similar, rather than focusing on what’s different. Thinking about it as pieces of a puzzle where you have to find the connections, trusting there always are connections. Getting excited by what excites other people in what they do.

What are your aspirations? (Personal and Business):

Right now, I am trying to catalyze a national collaboration to connect the arts to the opportunities impact investing and social entrepreneurship have brought to the rest of the social sector. If we actively invest in building a stronger bridge for a few years — make the connections — the relationships and the opportunities will take over and more fantastic things will happen.


Artists are essential

Favorite People/Role Models?:

All the artists I’m lucky enough to know

Favorite Places/Destinations?:

India. The inside of any theater anywhere in the world.

Favorite Products/Objects?:

Harney & Son tea

Current Passions?:

I am a grateful student of yoga since 2002.

What Else To Know

Tell Us More:

How will you stay the best?

Listening. Being as open as possible. Trying new things even when it’s uncomfortable.

What fascinates you?

Anytime anyone is very, very good at what they do no matter what it is. The fact that great artists and creatives have an entirely unique and recognizable signature in what they do. You walk into a room and you can distinguish something by Andy Warhol from something by Pablo Picasso. To be that unique in the world amazes me.

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Primary Location

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