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.
Today, Taneshia is the President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, a historic performing arts center located within the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Newark, NJ’s largest city. Appointed in November 2018, she has expanded programming to respond to community needs and desires. Additionally she has vowed to leverage the property's status on the National Register of Historic Places for federal historic tax credits and location within a Designated Qualified Opportunity Zone and NJ Urban Enterprise Zone to undertake a $40 million restoration of the historic theater before its one hundredth anniversary in 2025.
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 a board member of Artpride New Jersey for which she is the co-chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In 2019 Taneshia was elected the 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.