Ten random facts about me.
- I am the Director of the Michigan State University Museum and a core faculty member in Michigan State University’s Arts, Cultural Management & Museum Studies program. Prior to this, I served as the Director of Science Gallery Detroit, a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, and the Director of the Arab American National Museum.
- In 2013, I was honored to be named one of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” business leaders.
- According to the StrengthsFinder profile, my strengths are Strategic, Learner, Intellection, Input, & Achiever.
- I’ve had the pleasure of visiting four of the New7Wonders of the world.
- I enjoy randonneuring and bicycle touring. I’ve recently completed end-to-end tours on the Ohio to Erie Trail (Cincinnati to Columbus to Akron to Cleveland), the Erie Canal (Buffalo to Albany in Upstate New York), and the Great Allegheny Passage (Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD) as well as the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath (Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC).
- I am currently tackling the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, a challenge that involves summiting the traditionally recognized forty-six “High Peaks” of the Adirondack Mountains.
- I am also striving to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states. As of now, I have successfully finished marathons in eight states.
- Photography is hobby of mine, having once worked as a photojournalist.
- I have a passion for indie/DIY music and culture.
- I am married to the amazing Dharma Akmon, who is the managing director at the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. She also serves on Ann Arbor’s City Council (Ward 4).
Devon Akmon is an innovative, strategic, and results-driven leader with a proven track record in the cultural management and informal learning sectors. Currently, he serves as the Director of Michigan State University (MSU) Museum and as a core faculty member in MSU’s Arts, Cultural Management & Museum Studies program.
Since joining MSU at the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, Devon has successfully integrated Science Gallery Detroit, which he was initially hired to lead, into the MSU Museum. This repositioned the former institution as the CoLab Studio. The CoLab, an innovative division of the MSU Museum, fosters experimentation and innovation through novel programming. To align with MSU’s academic mission, Devon led the staff in formulating a strategic plan that will steer the future activities and growth of the MSU Museum. This plan outlines ambitious goals, clear objectives, and pragmatic strategies, ensuring the Museum’s relevance in an ever-evolving landscape. Concurrent with the unveiling of the strategic plan, the Museum launched a new brand, symbolizing its renewed vision, values, and aspirations. This marks a significant chapter in the MSU Museum’s journey, setting the stage for future growth and transformation.
Before joining MSU, Devon served as a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, providing organizational guidance to over 70 cultural institutions across the United States. His work spanned artistic and strategic planning, community engagement, marketing, fundraising, and board development, underlining his versatile expertise in cultural institution management.
His notable tenure as the Director of the Arab American National Museum (AANM) further underscores his leadership prowess. Initially joining as a Curator of Community History when the museum opened in 2005, his career trajectory led to his appointment as Deputy Director in 2009 and subsequently as Director in 2013. Devon’s leadership catalyzed both the physical and thematic expansion of the museum, which included the addition of the Annex, a community arts space, and an artist-in-residency unit in the neighboring City Hall Artspace Lofts. Under Devon’s guidance, the AANM achieved several milestones, becoming a member of the National Performance Network and an internationally recognized TAKREEM Laureate for Cultural Excellence. Furthermore, the AANM became an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and attained Accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, a prestigious distinction, all within a decade of its inauguration.
In addition to his executive roles, Devon currently serves on the board of the American Alliance of Museums and Artspace. He has also held positions on numerous other governing boards, advisory committees, and national grant-making review panels, including those for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Devon has distinguished himself as a keynote speaker at national conferences, among them those hosted by the National Council on Public History and Grantmakers in the Arts. Frequently speaking at industry forums and conferences, he continues to demonstrate his unwavering commitment to the advancement of the arts and sciences, underscored by his extensive leadership experience and dedicated service.
Devon also devotes his time to public service in the communities where he lives and works. Previously, his contributions included service on the Broadway Historic District Study Committee, the Public Art Commission, the Equitable Engagement Steering Committee, and the Vision Zero Implementation Subcommittee for the City of Ann Arbor, as well as the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority.
Devon is an alumnus of Eastern Michigan University, where he earned his M.S., and Michigan State University, from which he holds a B.A. He is a recognized leader in his field, having been named one of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” business leaders and an American Express NGen Fellow with the Independent Sector.