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Meet Kelly Lee, Philadelphia's New Chief Cultural Officer

The Cultural Alliance is pleased to welcome Kelly Lee as the new city's new Chief Cultural Officer and the head of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. She was appointed in late December and began her new role on January 13.

A native Philadelphian and Penn graduate, Lee brings a wide range of experience in government, economic development, hospitality and arts and culture to her new role. She previously worked as the President & CEO of Innovation Philadelphia, an economic development agency focused on the commerical creative sector. She's also worked at the city's Commerce Department, PECO and the Pennsylvania Convention Center. She's served on a number of cultural boards, including those of the Cultural Alliance (where she chaired the Membership Committee), the Arden Theatre Company and Art-Reach. In her new role, she will serve as an ex-officio board member of the Cultural Alliance.

Lee is busy getting up to speed, but the Alliance was fortunate enough to grab a few moments of her time and get answers to some of our immediate questions:

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance: What are you most excited about in your new role?

Kelly Lee: I have always been very active in Philadelphia’s cultural community from my days as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, working with Kaki Marshall in the Office of Student Performing Arts and the Children’s Theater Festival. I have served on several cultural boards along with being an active patron of the arts. I thought that I was knowledgeable about the diversity and breadth and depth of Philadelphia’s cultural sector, but after being in the Chief Cultural Officer position for one week I have learned I had only scratched the surface! I am most excited to learn more about the cultural organizations and groups that are doing great work in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods so that the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy can better support them.

GPCA: What opportunities do you see for OACCE?

KL: Creative Philadelphia has been actively supporting great programming in communities throughout Philadelphia. Through Creative Philadelphia's Performances in Public Spaces program, the Office has supported over 20 performances in the heart of the city's neighborhoods including performances in Clark Park, Hawthorne Park, Fairhill Square Park and Vernon Park to name a few. I think our biggest opportunities are in expanding our support of these types of programs so that all Philadelphians have access to quality cultural experiences. The Office would also like to further collaborate with Philadelphia’s cultural institutions, the Philadelphia School District, and the City’s recreation centers and libraries to develop art, music, and other kinds of creative programming for kids in and out of school.

The Cultural Alliance looks forward to continuing our deep partnership with OACCE under Lee's leadership, and we recognize and celebrate all the great work that her predecessor, Helen Haynes, achieved. To learn more about OACCE, visit