In March 2023, Bronzeville Center for the Arts’ (BCA) Board of Directors hired its first Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Robert Parker, to lead BCA as it establishes a destination arts museum in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood. In this new role, Parker is responsible for overseeing the planning, design, construction, community engagement and all elements of the operation of BCA’s two Bronzeville developments: Gallery 507 (slated for opening fall 2023) and a future 50,000 sq. ft destination arts museum (slated for opening in 2026).
In 2020, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby appointed Parker, to lead the Chickasaw Nation’s $36 million Journey Home Capital Campaign and eventual construction project and operation of the Chickasaw Inkana Foundation’s Chickasaw Heritage Center (CHC) in Tupelo, Mississippi. Parker arrived at the Chickasaw Nation from Washington, D.C., after serving as Director of Exhibits, Education and Visitor Services at the United States Navy Memorial Foundation’s Naval Heritage Center. He also has served as Superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, located in Cambridge, Maryland. There, he accomplished what is similar to his current BCA and former CHC work which led to the development of new park exhibits, interpretive programs and established the startup operations and construction design planning for a new $21 million Visitor Center.
While at the Tubman Park, Parker was also responsible for the National Underground Railroad Network To Freedom (NTF) Program (695 institutional members in 39 states, the District of Columbia and U. S. Virgin Islands—this program coordinates preservation and education efforts (through Grants) nationwide and integrates local historical places, museums, monuments and interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad into a mosaic of community, regional, and national stories). This park and program are both part of the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service.
Before working at the Tubman National Park, Parker served as interim Superintendent for the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce, Ohio, and former President William Howard Taft National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, which are also managed by the National Park Service. Parker was Supervisory Park Ranger for the Martin Luther King Jr., National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as Chief of Interpretation, Education and Cultural Resource Manager for the National Park. Additionally, he served as Park Manager for the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site & National Archives For Black Women’s History, Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site and Capitol Hill Parks in Washington, D.C. Parker serves on the national Board of Directors for the Association of African American Museums, he’s a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and actively involved in a host of other social, professional and civic organizations.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Professional History with a minor in Museum and Archival Studies from North Carolina A&T State University and a Master of Arts degree in Public History with a specialty in Cultural Resource Management from North Carolina State University. Robert is a native of Kinston, NC.