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MOCAD Director Faces Actions After Allegations Of Racial And Gender Bias

Executive Director of MOCA Detriot, Elysia Borowy-Reeder, have been reportedly fired after allegations of racial and gender bias, along with other misconduct, were made by employees.

In a report by Artnews, Elyse Foltyn (member of board chair at MOCAD) said that the decision was made collectively by the board of directors. Borowy-Reeder has been put under administrative leave in light of the allegations made against her. Foltyn also said that a formal investigation will be carried against her by the board. No comments came from Borowy-Reeder.

The scandal began last Friday when 40 ex-employees of MOCAD wrote an open letter to the museum’s board. The letter accused Borowy-Reeder of years of misconduct, racial bias, micro-aggressions, misrepresentation of the community and violent verbal outbursts, among many others. The letter mentioned five immediate steps the board could take in the matter, including the resignation of Borowy-Reeder. The letter also talked about the larger issue of poor relations that the museum has with the local community.

Elysia Borowy-Reeder first became the director of MOCAD in 2013. While her tenure has been otherwise successful, it was marred by numerous issues. During her tenure, the high-profile museum (which houses a staff of 15 usually) saw a high turnover rate of employees. Even in recent months, the museum lost a number of employees. Three black curators have left in the last eight months, though their departures didn’t prompt any official statement from the museum. Last week saw the resignation of Tizziana Baldenebro, a Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow. Baldenebro cited the racist and exploitative behaviour of Borowy-Reeder as the reasons behind her resignation. But the behaviour of Borowy-Reeder seems to stretch at least as far back as 2014, when a letter by curator Katie McGowan and artist Gina Reichert mentioned the ‘problematic’ behaviour of Borowy-Reeder.