Taneshia Nash Laird, Newark Symphony Hall

Taneshia Nash Laird
President, CEO
Newark Symphony Hall
Newark, NJ

Taneshia Nash Laird plans to transform Newark Symphony Hall, New Jersey’s oldest performing arts center which turns 95 this year, into the Carnegie Hall of the state. As the center’s president and CEO, that means restoring the existing structure and revamping its programming. She’s also looking at ways to diversify revenue sources.

So far, Viacom has rented the space for a 1,000-person BET casting call and for celebrities to rehearse for the MTV Video Music Awards. All of this keeps Nash Laird busy, with every day presenting new challenges and opportunities. “In one day, there was a 90th birthday party going on in the lobby of our main concert hall; there was a Masonic group that had their gala in the ballroom; and I held a networking event for the National Association for Black Female Executives in Music and Entertainment. So, there really is no typical day for me, but I do have to make sure my staff knows what they’re doing,” she says, always concerned they have the support they need.

On other days, she may be dealing with fundraising, staff meetings, and the various projects at NSH, including implementing new technology. “I did a total reorganization with no significant layoffs,” she remarks. “I inherited an organization that had a six-figure annual operating deficit and turned it into a surplus within my first seven months.” Nash Laird attributes her professional accomplishments to her mentors, and also to her single mother who held several jobs to nurture her daughter’s interest in arts and culture through museum trips, dance, and instrument lessons.

Earlier this year, Nash Laird was elected president of the board of directors for Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. She has a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from Baruch College, and a Certificate in Non-Profit Executive Leadership from Rutgers School of Business, Institute for Ethical Leadership.