Dear Friends of MOCA,

Today, Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum named longtime MOCA President Nancy Yao as its founding director. She will begin the role on June 5 and a national search for her successor is underway.

We are thrilled for Nancy as she assumes such a meaningful role. This moment is bittersweet as she has been central to our efforts to plan for a new Centre Street home. A place that, thanks to her tireless leadership, will serve as a hub for the overlooked history of the Chinese diaspora in the United States. At a moment when anti-Chinese American sentiment remains a daily issue for so many of us nationwide, this project couldn’t be more important.

As president of MOCA since 2015, she has been instrumental in expanding and strengthening our dynamic programming and reaching a national audience – all while working to secure the future of the Museum on Centre Street and planning the new space with Maya Lin and Ralph Appelbaum. On top of that, she led our recovery from a devastating fire-alarm fire in January 2020, which damaged our Collections and Research Center. Through her leadership, MOCA salvaged more than 98 percent of the country’s most extensive collection of Chinese American artifacts. Those efforts culminated with the recent opening of our new Research Workshop Center at 3 Howard Street, which we encourage all to visit.

Thanks to her relentless spirit in the face of so much adversity, MOCA is now poised to enter a new chapter, one that we firmly believe will amplify the stories of generations of Chinese Americans who have come before us and push back against ignorance and hatred with compassionate, engaging, whimsical, powerful truths about what it has meant, now means, and will mean, to be Chinese American. Nancy should be proud of all she’s done to put MOCA in that position.

We thank her deeply for her work and wish her all the best as she begins this summer on another essential cultural mission for the country.