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CEO Doug Shipman leaving the Woodruff Arts Center

Doug Shipman, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center for the past three years, announced Thursday he will leave his post at the end of the summer. File photo
Doug Shipman, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center for the past three years, announced Thursday he will leave his post at the end of the summer. File photo

After three years at the head of the Southeast’s largest arts organization, Doug Shipman, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, has announced he will be leaving his post Aug. 31.

“It has been an honor to lead one of Atlanta’s most important institutions,” Shipman said in a statement. “I informed the board in February of my departure, and we have worked together to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and undertake a smooth leadership transition.”

Woodruff Arts Center board chair Doug Hertz said, in a statement, “We are sorry to see Doug leave the Woodruff Arts Center after three very successful years, but we respect his decision and wish him the best in the next phase of his career.”

Doug Shipman first came to prominence as the founder and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Photo: courtesy Doug Shipman
Doug Shipman first came to prominence as the founder and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Photo: courtesy Doug Shipman

Hala Moddelmog, former president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, will assume the role of Woodruff CEO on Sept. 1. Moddelmog has served as a Woodruff trustee, governing board member and co-chair of the Alliance Theatre board.

Shipman became the leader of the arts center in 2017. He rose to prominence as the founder and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened in 2014, after more than 10 years of planning and fundraising.

Shipman guided that center for a year, before stepping down in 2015.

In a brief email about his plans for the future, Shipman wrote, “I am definitely staying in Atlanta. As for what’s next-- (I) need to transition well here before I can settle on what’s next.”

However, he posted a statement online that made it clear that he will be more politically involved than he has been during his tenure at the Woodruff, and describes the present moment as a turning point in American life.

“This moment is the seminal moment in my lifetime,” he wrote, “the moment that will define how my generation is judged and how my children and grandchildren will live.”

He added, “Given this moment I am compelled to find ways to be directly involved in addressing injustices of the past and present and working to catalyze public sector, NGO and private business actions that will address the myriad of issues we face as a community.”

Shipman commented in his statement that he appreciates the opportunity to serve the Woodruff, “and I don’t take the decision to depart lightly.”

The Woodruff Arts Center includes the Alliance Theatre, the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, all three of which have received national acclaim and attention.

During Shipman’s tenure, the Alliance rebuilt its theater from the ground up, and the High re-installed its permanent collection.