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Sasha Suda, the director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.Ashley Fraser/Globe and Mail

After three years as the director and chief executive of the National Gallery of Canada, which included enacting the institution’s first strategic plan, Sasha Suda is leaving to take on a leadership role at a noted art museum in the United States.

As of the fall, Dr. Suda will be the director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

She heads to the PMA to replace beleaguered outgoing leader Timothy Rub, who faced criticism last year of his handling of staff scandals, which included reports of harassment, and gender and equity issues.

The PMA was founded in 1877 and has more than 240,000 works of art. It is undergoing a 80,000-square-foot expansion designed by architect Frank Gehry, which is expected to be done by 2028.

Dr. Suda will be the 14th director at the museum and the third woman in the post.

The shift was announced Tuesday with Françoise Lyon, the chair of the National Gallery’s board, saying Dr. Suda had delivered on objectives that included bringing in the strategic plan and revitalizing the institutional brand of the organization.

Released in May, 2021, the plan for Canada’s premiere art museum included a roster of commitments: strengthening community connections through “transformative art experiences,” building a diverse and collaborative team, and taking into account Indigenous ways of “knowing and thinking.”

Dr. Suda will be the 14th director at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the third woman in the post.Ashley Fraser/Globe and Mail

Dr. Suda said the gallery would be “living” the plan and she noted that when the gallery held a high-profile Rembrandt exhibition, three curators and art historians were invited to tell the Dutch painter’s story through a Western, Black and Indigenous lens.

In consultation with Indigenous Elders, the gallery was given an Algonquin word, Ankosé, which means “everything is connected,” to describe its new purpose.

Dr. Suda said her exit allows her to hand on the leadership baton of the National Gallery “at a really high point.”

Born in Orillia, Ont., and raised in Toronto, she arrived at the National Gallery in 2019, its youngest director since the First World War.

She studied at Princeton University and Williams College, and earned a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She launched her career at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art before moving on to the Art Gallery of Ontario, where she was curator of European art.

Her leadership role at the National Gallery was her first as a museum director, and she arrived a year before the pandemic and the challenges it imposed owing to prolonged closings.

In moving on, Dr. Suda, 41, cited the challenge of taking a leadership responsibility at the PMA and her personal connections to the city.

She cited her studies at Princeton in New Jersey, “a stone’s throw” from Philadelphia. She said she spent a lot of time at the PMA; as an athlete, she has rowed in Philadelphia, and she has friends and colleagues there.

In a statement, the Philadelphia Museum of Art said Dr. Suda brings a new generation of leadership to he institution, and that she will mark a new era of growth and civic engagement.

“She is an accomplished arts scholar with an inspiring vision for the museum’s future and a proven commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access,” Leslie Anne Miller, chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “Sasha is the leader we need at this transformational moment.”

Asked if she had any regrets, Dr. Suda quipped that she wished she could have stopped the pandemic. But she added, more seriously, that she has “no other regrets.”

Ms. Lyon said the National Gallery will shortly appoint an interim director and CEO and begin work recruiting a new leader.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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