Newark Symphony Hall CEO Taneshia Nash Laird announces planned departure

Taneshia Nash Laird. (File photo)

Newark Symphony Hall CEO and President Taneshia Nash Laird is stepping away from her role next month, according to a post on her LinkedIn page.

Laird joined the organization in November 2018 after a national search, succeeding interim Executive Director Leon Denmark.

During her time — which she described as “impactful, and in many ways life-changing,” Laird led the turnaround of the beloved historic institution, which most people thought had its better days behind it. Under her watch, Newark Symphony Hall created a Black-led, volunteer-based Investment Committee comprised largely of millennial-age professionals tasked with shaping oversight policy and providing fund-management guidance; and was awarded grant funds from the Historic Trust be applied to NSH’s three-phase, five-year, $50 million renovation, with another $2.75 million in new funding secured this past September.

The venue has had a series of other operational successes, including becoming an in-demand alternative location for film and television productions. In 2021, USA Network’s series “America’s Big Deal” was broadcast live from NSH for the entire season. Additionally, the Hulu drama series “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” transformed spaces in the 145,000-square-foot complexes for two episodes of the show during the pandemic, including one directed by Hollywood filmmaker Mario Van Peebles.

“Taneshia has set Newark Symphony Hall on a strong path to restore a historic, cultural gem in our great city,” NSH Board Chair and City of Newark Arts and Cultural Affairs Director, fayemi shakur said. “We are grateful for Taneshia’s leadership and wish her well on her future endeavors. As we work closely with her on the organization’s transition plan, we will share an announcement about the organization’s newly appointed interim CEO next week.”

Laird said a new chapter in her career will be announced soon.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the people of Newark and NJ,” she wrote on her LinkedIn page. “In the process, I’ve gained so many dear colleagues, mentors and mentees along the way, especially as we navigated the additional challenges brought on by the global pandemic, which commenced right after I personally fought breast cancer while on the job.”