Press Release

The Barnes Foundation Announces Barbara Wong as Its First Director of Community Engagement

Philadelphia, PA


The Barnes Foundation today announced the appointment of Barbara Wong to the newly created position of director of community engagement. With more than 25 years of experience in public arts education, Wong joins the Barnes from Providence CityArts for Youth, a nationally recognized community-based arts organization serving at-risk children, where she served as executive director for 16 years. She has begun working part-time at the Barnes and will assume her full-time post in July 2017.

As part of the Barnes’s commitment to engaging a broader audience, Wong will oversee family and community outreach initiatives, as well as forge partnerships with like-minded organizations around Philadelphia. She will also lead efforts to improve accessibility in programming and content delivery for people with disabilities.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Barbara, a dynamic arts educator who has dedicated her career to empowering underserved communities and catalyzing social change by providing greater access to the arts and education,” says Thom Collins, executive director and president. “Barbara is an ideal fit for this new position, which was created to deepen the Barnes’s impact on the lives of residents and students we serve across Philadelphia.” 

Wong brings experience from her roles as program officer at the Rhode Island Foundation, Board member of Providence Public Schools—where she served as a mayoral appointee—and director of summer programs for the Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education program. 

“I have shaped my career towards building a future where creativity and social change are drivers of how we engage and learn about one another in society,” says Barbara Wong. “I’m inspired by the Barnes Foundation’s social integrity, vision, and excellence in arts, and look forward to drawing on my spectrum of experience to help it succeed in building relationships with Philadelphia’s diverse communities and beyond.” 

Wong earned a BFA from Cornell University and an MA in art education from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has taught art education and non-profit arts management courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and the RISD Museum, and in 2016 she served on the National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks Grant Review Panel. Wong is also a gubernatorial appointee to the Rhode Island Commission on Women and a member of the National Art Education Association and the National Guild for Community Youth Arts Education. 


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