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Kansas African American Museum director to be third in past year

The Kansas African American Museum will have a new executive director — its third in the past year, according to a news release Thursday.

Prisca Barnes, who currently serves as the museum's director of communications, was unanimously appointed by the museum's board. Barnes, 29, will be one of the youngest nonprofit executive directors in the Wichita metro area.

"I am more than ready to take this museum to the next level and tell our story," Barnes said in a statement.

Barnes replaces Mark McCormick, who took the job in April. He replaced executive director L'Oreal Evans-Birden, who was fired after less than two months on the job.

McCormick will become the director of communications at the Kansas Leadership Center. He will continue to serve as a board member for the museum.

"It seemed like a natural fit to have him in the role, given the fact that he did some freelance work for us, and he has an incredible background in journalism and civic engagement," said Ed O'Malley, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center.

"He has been writing about people trying to make a difference in the community. I think that perspective will be valuable."

McCormick is a former columnist at The Wichita Eagle.

"Only KLC and its unique approach to civic leadership development could have torn me away from the museum," McCormick said in a statement.

Both Barnes and McCormick will begin their new duties Jan. 19.

The Kansas African American Museum, 601 N. Water, is a source of historical references, creative works and media about the past and present African-American experience in Kansas. It hosts a varied collection of multimedia presentations, rare artifacts, African art, original sculptures, paintings, musical scores, musical recordings and history of local musicians.

The Kansas Leadership Center was funded through an initial 10-year, $30 million investment by the Kansas Health Foundation. It is an organization that fosters civic leadership in Kansas communities through inspiration, education and networking.

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