We have a new executive director!

brian boyles headshot

Brian Boyles. Photo by Zack Smith Photography

“A tireless, pragmatic leader”; “an experienced public humanist”; “a skillful diplomat.” These are some of the ways people describe Brian Boyles, who, we’re thrilled to say, has been selected as the new executive director of Mass Humanities starting October 15.

“Brian impressed us with his energy, enthusiasm, and practical grasp of the humanities,” said Hilda Ramirez, a member of the search committee. “His record of accomplishment in engaging diverse groups of people was most impressive,” she added.

For the last twelve years, Brian has worked at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH), including the last four as Vice President of Content and Publisher/Editor of LEH’s award-winning magazine, Louisiana Cultural Vistas.

He oversaw LEH’s grant-making, public programming, and publications, and was a successful fundraiser. During his tenure, LEH opened the Louisiana Humanities Center, a convening space for civic dialogue after Hurricane Katrina. He’s also been recognized for WaterWays, LEH’s series of documentary films and public programs about the issues facing coastal Louisiana.

Brian is a native of Pittsburgh. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Western History from Tulane University and studied abroad in Germany. He began his career in publishing and worked at Simon & Schuster. He and his wife have two young children together.

brian boyles at event

Brian (middle) with artist B-Mike Odums and filmmaker Glen Pitre. Photo by Grant Ingram

Brian is taking over the post formerly held by David Tebaldi, who is stepping down after 33 years. David has been executive director of Mass Humanities since 1985.

“I’ve long admired David Tebaldi’s leadership in Massachusetts and his advocacy for the public humanities nationally,” Brian said. “I’m grateful to the board of directors for selecting me to join the incredible team there.”

Brian is arriving at a time when Mass Humanities itself is in great shape financially and programmatically, hitting a high-water mark for fundraising this year while continuing our robust grants and program work. So far in 2018 we’ve seen the Reading Frederick Douglass program host more events than ever before (fifteen state-wide), while our grants reached communities in Massachusetts with limited access to the humanities—e.g., giving recently arrived immigrants in Fall River the opportunity to reflect on and share their stories and experiences.

At the same time, American society seems to become more fragmented by the day; what we need is a vision of a common good, a sense of unity and shared cultural values. That search is the domain of the humanities, and it’s why we continually hear people say, “The humanities are more important than ever.” What they’re really saying is, “Finding commonalities is more important than ever.”

“The challenges we face demand bold approaches to the humanities,” said Boyles. “I look forward to working with communities, scholars, and our supporters to advance the council’s mission of employing the humanities to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts.”

We are truly excited to have Brian on board and look forward to a bright future for both Mass Humanities and the Commonwealth!