From the day she held the glossy commemorative book from the King Tut Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in her hands when she was just nine years old and sat dreamy-eyed watching "Great Performances" on PBS, Taneshia Nash Laird has led a life immersed in the visual and performing arts. Thanks to her single mother’s effort to expose her to the arts and reveal it as a catalyst for opportunity, Taneshia’s journey toward becoming a nationally recognized leader in arts administration - and champion for equitable community development - was solidified.
Since her appointment in November 2018, she has expanded programming to respond to community needs and announced plans to restore the 1925 opened concert hall in a $40 million renovation. She will do so not only with philanthropy, but also by leveraging the property’s status on the National Register of Historic Places for federal historic tax credits and location in a Designated Qualified Opportunity Zone and NJ Urban Enterprise Zone for additional investment. The restoration process will create 500 construction jobs and opportunities for 50 small businesses, important economic activity because nearly one out of every three people in Newark live below the poverty line.
Taneshia has had an extensive career in the public and private sectors and across industries. As an entrepreneur, she is the founder of Legacy Business Advisors, a business and community economic development consultancy serving social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and government agencies. With her late husband Roland, Taneshia co-founded MIST Harlem, a popular entertainment center in New York City. Together Taneshia and her husband also co-authored the critically acclaimed book Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans.
Taneshia is an adjunct professor in Drexel University’s Entertainment & Arts Management Bachelor of Science program. She was appointed a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts during the Obama administration. Taneshia is a member of the Leadership Council of Arts Ed Newark and her board service includes recently concluding nine years as a trustee of Artpride New Jersey for which she is the co-chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In 2019 Taneshia was elected the a three-year term of president of the board of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, the community arts organization founded in 1995 by siblings Danny, Russell, and Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons.
Widowed in 2013 and a pink lady warrior since an early stage breast cancer diagnosis in 2019, Taneshia is most proud of being a mom to aspiring ballerina and budding cellist Naima, age 10, and self-proclaimed future doctor Imani, who in 2019, two months shy of her 13th birthday, played violin with her youth orchestra in Sicily.