Association of African American Museums Names Vedet Coleman-Robinson President and CEO

Association of African American Museums Names Vedet Coleman-Robinson President and CEO

Coleman-Robinson has served as the organization’s executive director since 2019


Vedet Coleman-Robinson, Ph.D., has been named president and CEO of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM). Coleman-Robinson was appointed executive director in March 2019. AAAM’s board of directors recognizes Coleman-Robinson’s vast impact on the non-profit organization.

       Under her leadership, AAAM has surpassed its fundraising goals, raising more than $6.5 million; introduced new programs; and seen a surge of more than 250% in membership, with the most popular categories being two-year individual and institutional memberships. She encourages members to carry AAAM’s commitment to servant leadership to their institutions, empowering people in their communities and providing them with more enriching narratives of African and African American history.

       “Vedet Coleman-Robinson’s dynamic leadership and innovative approach have been instrumental in enhancing the Association of African American Museums’ reach and impact,” said Omar Eaton-Martínez, AAAM’s board president. “Her ability to create strategic alliances and appeal to emerging professionals will continue to propel AAAM forward and bolster the organization’s ability to serve as the principal voice for the African American museum movement.”

       As AAAM’s executive director, Coleman-Robinson has supported cultural organizations, historical societies and museums that collect, preserve and exhibit objects valuable to art, history and science involving African and African American communities. In 2020, Coleman-Robinson helped AAAM’s members simultaneously navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened social injustice and unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. Under her leadership, webinars, online workshops and a virtual conference allowed members to collaborate, share experiences and discover best practices for serving as advocates in their communities. In 2021, AAAM implored its members to contact their senators in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to address the use of deadly force and racial profiling.

       The following year, AAAM announced a partnership with Howard University School of Business to train the next generation of Black museum leaders. Participants enjoy courses in conscientious leadership, strategic thinking and community relations, fundraising and more. Eighty-five percent of the program’s graduates have been appointed to leadership roles, advancing AAAM’s aim to ensure its members have requisite knowledge and experience to do their work. John Fleming, Ph.D., former AAAM board president, praised the program in an address during AAAM’s annual conference.

       “When Vedet told me about the program at Howard, it gave me, really, goosebumps because for the first time we have a place that we can go for leadership training and it is a place where we will be welcomed. I think if you look back over the history of the Association, I think this is going to be the most outstanding accomplishment,” he said during the 2022 convening.

       During Coleman-Robinson’s five years as executive director, AAAM has established a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service's Park History Programs African American Civil Rights Network to bolster the network’s visibility and regrant more than $2 million to network members. Funding from the Mellon Foundation allows for AAAM working groups that help identify and address issues specific to Black museums based on findings from a 2017 needs assessment. A 2021 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. supported the expansion of AAAM’s national operations to support institutions across the field.

       “The Board is pleased with the remarkable journey and positioning of the Association of African American Museums since Vedet Coleman-Robinson took the helm. She has positioned AAAM as a resilient, forward-thinking organization and set the benchmark for leadership in the field writ large,” said Eaton-Martínez. “Her ability to cater to baby boomers, millennials and Generation Z ensures that professionals from their 20s to their 80s will benefit from all that AAAM has to offer, thus positively impacting the communities they serve.”

       Coleman-Robinson’s relationship with AAAM dates to 2005. She was introduced to the organization by trusted mentors who were passionate about African American history and joined while working toward her master’s degree in U.S. history. She credits her internship at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture as a pivotal experience that opened the door to AAAM and its dynamic network of museum professionals. In 2018, Coleman-Robinson became a life member. Before accepting the executive leadership role, she assisted in facilitating national stakeholder meetings with African American professional organizations for Lord Cultural Resources and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also served on AAAM’s membership committee.

       “The Association of African American Museums is a testament to the power of a collective voice. It is an honor to collaborate with institutions across the country and abroad to ensure everyone has access to rich, accurate and inclusive narratives about African and African American history, art and culture,” said Coleman-Robinson.  “Expanding membership reflects a growing interest in the Association of African American Museums and reinforces our mission's importance. As AAAM’s president and CEO, I will continue to advocate for resources and opportunities that help cultural institutions celebrate African and African American heritage and culture while allowing Black people to see themselves in art and learn about their history.”

       Coleman-Robinson has devoted her career to elevating voices that have been historically underrepresented in American history. She came to AAAM from the National Park Service (NPS), where she served as a grants management specialist within the State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Division (STLPG). During her 11 years with NPS, Coleman-Robinson was the program lead for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant (HBCU) and the Underrepresented Community Grant programs for STLPG. She also assisted in the NPS acquisition of the African American Civil War Monument and served in leadership roles within the National Park Service's employee resource groups to raise the visibility of employees and sites that are underrepresented within the National Park Service.

       "I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the current AAAM board, past board members, and especially to our past presidents, Brian Carter and LaNesha DeBardelaben, as well as our current president, Omar Eaton-Martínez. Their unwavering dedication and significant contributions have been instrumental in laying a strong foundation for the continued advancement of AAAM’s mission," said Coleman-Robinson.

       Coleman-Robinson earned doctorate and master’s degrees in U.S. history from Howard University, where she minored in public history with a concentration in African American history and culture. She is also a contributing author to the newly released “Hip-Hop @ 50: Howard University Public History Program,” a book that explores hip-hop’s impact from 1973 to the present. She holds a bachelor’s degree in U.S. History from Virginia State University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

About the Association of African American Museums
Located in Washington, D.C., the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) is a non-profit member organization established to support African and African American-focused museums nationally and internationally and the professionals who protect, preserve and interpret African and African American art, history and culture.

Established as the single representative and principal voice of the African American museum movement, the Association seeks to strengthen and advocate for institutions and individuals' interests committed to preserving African-derived cultures. AAAM's services enhance those museums' ability to serve the needs and interests of persons of African ancestry and those who wish to know more about the art, history and culture of African-derived cultures. For more information about the Association of African American Museums, visit


Photo: Vedet R. Coleman-Robinson, Ph.D., Association of African American Museums president and CEO. Photograph by Megapixels Media Photography

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