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CalArts names new CFO


CalArts named Maeesha Merchant vice president of finance and operations at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

Merchant brings 14-plus years of professional experience across public sector, education, nonprofit and financial services to CalArts, according to a statement from the Valencia arts school.

Merchant will serve in a dual role as the Institute’s chief financial officer and chief innovation officer. Merchant served in this position on an interim basis during the previous 10 months.

In this role, she demonstrated a thorough understanding of the unique opportunities offered by the Institute while showing the skills, experience, and leadership to achieve these goals.

“We came to know Maeesha during her time as interim VP,” said CalArts President Ravi Rajan, “and have witnessed the significant strengths that she brings to this position. She demonstrated a keen recognition that CalArts is an exceptional school with a special culture and quickly established herself as an integral member of CalArts’ senior executive team, earned the respect of her colleagues, and has provided strong leadership on a range of key projects, including our important visioning work which will commence this coming year.”

“This is a pivotal time in CalArts history, with record-breaking student enrollment; its 50th anniversary celebration just on the horizon, in 2021; and most importantly, the appointment of a new president after 29 years, who brings with him a new, audacious vision for the organization,” said Merchant. “Over the past 10 months, I have had the unparalleled opportunity to fill the role of VP of finance and operations. Through this experience, my passion for the Institute and what it brings to the world has only strengthened and my mind remains focused on CalArts’ future success.”

Merchant comes to CalArts from Deloitte Consulting, where she spent nearly a decade in strategy and operations, as well as Global Innovation in sectors, including higher education and state government.

Prior to Deloitte, she worked for Oliver Wyman as a financial services management consultant. Merchant is the co-founder and CEO of Andromeda Solutions, an education technology startup. She is passionate about education and has worked with LAUSD on launching entrepreneurial programs and partnered with non-profits like XPRIZE.

Merchant graduated from the Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Program at the University of Pennsylvania with a BSc in Economics with a concentration in Finance, from the Wharton School of Business, a BAS in Biomedical Sciences, and a BA in International Relations.

California Institute of the Arts has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970.

Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—art, critical studies, dance, film/video, music and theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions.

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