John Echeveste, who has guided the transformation of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes for the last six years, has announced plans to retire from the organization by end of the year. Echeveste informed the LA Plaza Board of Trustees of his plans recently and will stay on staff until a successor is in place. The Board has initiated a succession plan and intends to have the position filled by early 2022.
“Working with the LA Plaza board, staff, and supporters these last six years has been the highlight of my professional career,” Echeveste said. “Together, we’ve accomplished our primary goal of making LA Plaza the primary Latino cultural hub of Los Angeles and I am ready now to retire and turn over the reins to new leadership. I look forward to be part of the transition process.”
“John is so much LA Plaza that it is terribly difficult to imagine one without the other,” said Lupe de la Cruz III, Board chair. “We have benefitted greatly from his steady leadership, his insightful wisdom, and innovative and fiscally responsible stewardship. I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the years under his leadership and even more so that a sturdy foundation to pass along to new leadership has firmly taken root.”
Echeveste leaves at a time when the institution has established a solid financial foundation, expanded its physical campus, and vastly enhanced its exhibition, education, and programming offerings.
Among the major achievements during his tenure are:
- Development of the LA Plaza downtown urban museum campus, which now includes the original museum; LA Plaza Village, a $160 million retail-residential complex; and the Historic Paseo Walkway, both completed in 2019; and the opening of LA Cocina culinary museum in September 2021
- A major expansion of LA Plaza’s free public programming to include more than 100 musical, dance, conversation, food, film, family, and other programs annually
- Establishment of the Eastside Arts Initiative in 2015 to provide financial assistance to artists and arts organizations in eastern LA County, with nearly $1 million awarded to date
- Curation and presentation of compelling exhibitions that share the untold stories of the Latino experience in Los Angeles, and present works of established and up-and-coming local artists
- Expansion of the institution’s educational initiatives, including the popular Garden & Culinary Arts program serving 9,000 students a year; creation of the LA Troka mobile education program; and creation of Leyendo con LA Plaza, a cultural literacy program at local libraries.
During the pandemic period while the museum was closed, LA Plaza responded by developing a broad slate of virtual programming, including its three-times weekly En Casa con LA Plaza streaming program; En Familia con LA Plaza educational series; and moving many of its exhibits to an interactive digital format, including online 3D Virtual Tours and Smartphone Tours.
“The future for LA Plaza is very bright. We have many exciting plans ready to be launched in the coming years, and we have the team in place to execute them efficiently and effectively,” Echeveste said.
LA Plaza was created by the County of Los Angeles and opened to the public in 2011. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors annually, including 9,000 school children.
The LA Plaza Board will announce plans for a search process soon.