Homepage image from Balboa Art Conservation Center.

An arts professional with deep roots in the San Diego community was chosen to head the nonprofit Balboa Art Conservation Center, it was announced Tuesday.

Leticia Gomez Franco will step into the executive director role in early December. BACC’s previous executive director, Janet Ruggles, retired at the end of 2019 after 37 years with the nonprofit.

Gomez Franco’s commitment to preserving culture, as well as her hands- on experience with exhibitions, artists and communities, were some of the elements that the hiring committee of BACC’s board found most engaging, according to board President Karen Coutts.

“Leticia Gomez Franco’s background and perspective are an excellent complement to the expertise of our world-class conservators,” she said. “With Leticia at the helm, we are reaffirming the importance of the work we do every day in conservation and preservation while moving to diversify our audiences and expand our work to new communities.”

Gomez Franco most recently served as the senior arts and culture funding manager of the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, where she administered more than $11 million in grants for community arts organizations and made shifts to administrative processes in response to the global health crisis.

She was instrumental in forging long-term systemic change to ensure the city serves and responds to all of its diverse communities, according to BACC officials.

Before joining the City of San Diego, Gomez Franco served as director of programs and lead curator for the New Americans Museum, an institution intended to preserve and present the immigrant experience. As a curator, she has developed more than 40 exhibitions at various museums and galleries.

“Conservation centers play a pivotal role in ensuring the objects that make up our historical cultural inheritance survive the times,” Gomez Franco said. “Let us dare to reimagine our role as more than caretakers of objects, but also of the stories they keep, the societies they represent, and the people they exclude.

“Let this be the moment we shift — along with the world — into the uncharted territory of inclusivity. As the leading conservation center in the west, the small but mighty team at BACC is ready to engage communities, demystify the field of conservation, stimulate dialogue, and usher the work into a more inclusive framework,” she said.

Gomez Franco holds a master’s degree in curatorial theory from San Diego State University, and a bachelor’s degree in English and Chicana/o studies from UC Berkeley.

–City News Service

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