Jane Chu, president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts since 2006, was confirmed Thursday by the U.S. Senate as chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
“She’s spent years enriching the culture and strengthening the business community in Kansas City,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to seeing her bring that same leadership to the national stage.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said he “was impressed by her successful oversight of the more than $400 million Kauffman Center.”
Before taking the helm at the Kauffman Center, Chu was fund executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City, vice president of external relations for Union Station and vice president of community investment with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.
She has degrees in visual arts, piano performance, piano pedagogy and business administration. She holds a Ph.D. in philanthropic studies. Earlier this year, Kansas City’s Nonprofit Connect named her Nonprofit Professional of the Year.
“She is an outstanding leader who brings people together to get things done,” Julia Irene Kauffman, Kauffman Center board chairwoman, said in a statement.
When news of Chu’s nomination broke in February, she received full support from her Kansas City patrons. Her nomination drew no controversy and was approved by voice votes in a committee and the full Senate.
Established in 1965, the NEA works with various agencies — from local to national — to support arts education and innovation. Its annual budget is around $140 million. The annual salary for the NEA chair is $167,000, according to the agency’s office of public affairs.
Chu follows Rocco Landesman of St. Louis, who retired as NEA chairman in 2012.