Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette Appointed as Newfields’ President & Chief Executive Officer

Joey Amato | May 17, 2022

Newfields, Indianapolis’ premier destination for dynamic arts, culture, and nature, announced its Board of Trustees has confirmed Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette as the institution’s new President & Chief Executive Officer. The new CEO’s role will officially begin on August 1, 2022.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Burnette’s remarkable career spans engineering, information technology, public service, and more than two decades in education. Her track record is one of moving organizations forward in big, bold and lasting ways.

Today she is a dynamic leader in the world of higher education as President of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. During her tenure as President of the historically Black college, Dr. Burnette achieved significant growth in the university’s endowment, the launch of pioneering new academic programs, and innovative new partnerships with companies ranging from Apple, Indeed, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and Merck. She was named the 2021 Austinite of the Year by the city’s Chamber of Commerce for her commitment to education and her work as co-chair for the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities. Her other active board memberships include Leadership Austin, Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, and the Austin Community Foundation. 

A leader with significant experience in community engagement, Dr. Burnette is well-positioned to lead and deepen the transformation already underway at Newfields.

“I’ve seen the nurturing and transformative power of cherished institutions like Newfields. I am thrilled to become part of a team driven to meet Newfields’ mission of enriching lives purposefully and intentionally through exceptional experiences with art and nature,” said incoming President & CEO Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette. “I believe strongly in service, and I am excited to lead Newfields at this unique moment to make it a place every person in Indianapolis and beyond is excited to visit, and every team member is proud to work.”

“Our Search Committee looked at leaders across the entire country, and Dr. Burnette was a clear standout amongst an impressive slate. Her extensive professional achievements reflect her ability to deliver on her passion to innovate and advance the arts, education and green spaces. She is lauded by her staff, peers and the communities she served for being a humble leader with an immense amount of respect and empathy for everyone she encounters. Her legacy has been to elevate the beloved institutions she’s led into stronger more inclusive organizations that others seek to emulate.  We are absolutely delighted to bring her leadership to Newfields,” said the Chair of Newfields’ Board of Trustees, Darrianne Christian.

“On behalf of the Board, I also want to extend our deepest appreciation to our Interim CEO Jerry Wise, who has been a dedicated steward of Newfields throughout this transition. Jerry and the entire senior team have our gratitude,” added Christian. Dr. Burnette’s selection is the culmination of a national search that considered more than 230 talented applicants. The hiring process was shaped by input from every staffing level and every department at Newfields.