Today we’d like to introduce you to George O. Davis.
George, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I had a long career in the broadcast and entertainment industry and wanted to make a career change to be of more service to the community. In 2015, I was appointed Executive Director of the California African American Museum (CAAM). I previously served as a state-appointed board member for CAAM, starting in 1999. My professional career included executive roles as Senior Vice President at Technicolor and Vice President at Sony Pictures Entertainment. I also started my own digital content distribution consulting firm called Davis Broadband Group.
In my volunteer life, I was a governor’s appointee to the California State Bar Board of Governors and served as Volunteer State President of California AARP. I also served on the board of New Directions for Veterans, an organization that helps veterans with substance abuse and PTSD return to their family’s and community. I received my undergraduate degree in Business from the University of Redlands and MBA from the University of Southern California.
Has it been a smooth road?
I think everyone has struggles along the way! For me, one was finding ways that others could see me outside of whatever job or “box” I was presently in—I had to highlight how my skills were transferable to new positions, and even new fields. Additionally, I came up during a time when there were very few role models for me in entertainment management. I had to learn how to navigate relationships with people who had never worked with (or for) African Americans.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the California African American Museum story. Tell us more about the business.
The California African American Museum (CAAM) explores the art, history, and culture of African Americans, with an emphasis on California and the West. Chartered by the State of California in 1977, the Museum began formal operations in 1981 and is a state-supported agency and a Smithsonian Affiliate. In addition to presenting a dynamic slate of exhibitions and public programs, CAAM houses a permanent collection of more than four thousand works of art, artifacts, and historical documents, and a publicly accessible research library containing more than twenty thousand volumes.
I lead the museum and specifically oversee strategic planning, budget management, and outreach development to Exposition Park officials and other partners. Just as CAAM is changing and growing, so is our beautiful, 160-acre, historic setting: Exposition Park. The Los Angeles Rams are about to begin their second season at the Coliseum, and we enjoy seeing the Park grounds come alive with tailgating and hearing cheers for our recently returned hometown team. We’re also marveling as the new Banc of California Stadium for the LA Football Club is rising up across the parking lot from CAAM.
We’re thrilled that the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be one of our neighbors in the coming years, and we are developing a new master plan with our Park colleagues, with a key goal to encourage visitors to stay longer and avail themselves of multiple offerings while they are here. Now that the Metro’s Expo Line conveniently drops visitors just outside the Exposition Park Rose Garden—a lovely five-minute stroll to our front door—it is even easier to visit us and the Park’s other venues. Expo Park is fast becoming one of the most exciting destinations in LA, and I’m overjoyed to be a part of it.
During my tenure CAAM has begun fulfilling its mission to examine African American art, history, and culture in new and exciting ways—including the presentation of more contemporary and emerging artists and public programs by some of today’s most noted thinkers, doers, and makers—and I’m proud to say that attendance has more than doubled. I feel like we are making CAAM relevant for today’s audiences, and it’s truly gratifying to see large numbers of visitors, of all ages and races, coming to the Museum.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am a contrarian thinker, and not afraid to tackle large, longstanding problems, and that’s been a key to the current renaissance at the Museum. I also believe that flexibility is critical. This is especially important for those of us over 50!
- Address: California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA 90037
- Website: http://www.caamuseum.org/
- Phone: (213) 744-7432
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @CAAMinLA
- Facebook: @CAAMinlA
- Twitter: @CAAMinLA
All images courtesy of California African American Museum