LaNesha DeBardelabenLaNesha DeBardelaben
Past President & CEO, Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)

LaNesha DeBardelaben is a visionary and skilled public historian, librarian, and museum director. She’s past President & CEO of the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle where she led innovative programming, crafted a forward-facing strategic and expansion plan with a relevant new mission statement, and elevated the museum’s fundraising to record-setting levels. While there, she founded the Knowledge Is Power Book Giveaway Program that distributed nearly 25,000 free, new African American children’s books to youth. Prior, she was Senior Vice President of Education & Exhibitions at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. She is a member of the International Council of Museums and has studied museums and libraries in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Germany, England, and Israel. She’s Immediate Past National President of the Association of African American Museums Board of Directors and has served on the boards of Visit Seattle, Cascade PBS, Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) National Executive Council.

She earned a BA in history and secondary education, an MA in history and museum studies, an MLS in archives management, an MA in Comparative Black History, and is currently pursuing a PhD. In addition to her tireless work as a public historian and advocate for educational equity, LaNesha is an ordained clergy serving as Assistant Pastor at her church and is a member of The Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and The Pierians. She has been widely recognized for her visionary leadership, including twice being named a Top 40 Under 40 awardee, a Top 50 Woman Leader in Washington State, a Puget Sound Business Journal Woman of Influence, WNBA Inspiring Women awardee, and Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence awardee. LaNesha has been featured on the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum” and is a contributing essayist to The Inclusive Museum Leader (2021) and Change is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum (2022).