Press Release

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Adds to Leadership Team

Lauren Macmadu joins as Head of External Relations; Cary McClelland as Chief Operating Officer & Registered In-House Counsel

Lauren Macmadu & Cary McClelland

Left: Lauren Macmadu, Head of External Relations at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Photo by Lacey Bockhaus. Right: Cary McClelland, Chief Operating Officer and Registered In-House Counsel. Courtesy of YBCA.

(San Francisco, CA – June 7, 2023) – The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is pleased to announce the addition of two new members of its senior team: Lauren Macmadu as Head of External Relations and Cary McClelland as Chief Operating Officer and Registered In-House Counsel. Macmadu, an experienced marketing and communications professional, assumed her position in May. McClelland, an attorney and artist in his own right,  joined YBCA as a Senior Advisor in January and stepped into this role in May.

“We are thrilled to welcome both Lauren and Cary to YBCA. The breadth of their expertise and lived experience, as artists themselves and accomplished professionals, will be invaluable assets to our team,”said YBCA CEO Sara Fenske Bahat. “They are joining at a great time, as we endeavor to reanimate downtown with a reflective and forward-looking 30th anniversary program starting with Bay Area Now 9 this fall. We’re excited to bring their talents, deep roots and love for this city to our work at YBCA.”

Macmadu joins YBCA after previously serving as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Donor Network West, the federally designated non-profit organ procurement organization for northern California and northern Nevada. As the Head of External Relations at YBCA, she will champion the center’s role as a groundbreaking arts organization, leading engagement efforts around the organization’s 30th anniversary and furthering YBCA’s deep commitment to anchoring the community through culture and driving social change through the power of the arts.

“I am excited to join YBCA during this transformative period as it embarks on its 30th year of championing both the individual artist within each of us and the collective arts community, all for the betterment of society,” said Macmadu. “I look forward to bringing my passion for the arts, along with more than 20 years of experience helping organizations build powerful storytelling campaigns, to help YBCA create significant change throughout the vibrant arts community, the San Francisco Bay Area and nationally. Together, we will forge new avenues of artistic expression and ignite meaningful change.”

McClelland is a First Amendment and civil rights lawyer who has represented major media companies, broadcasters, and publishers, as well as artists and journalists, in defense of their intellectual property and free expression. He is also a practiced program leader, having launched numerous arts-based programs on behalf of human rights and conflict resolution efforts both in the United States and abroad. In his new role, McClelland will leverage his legal and program experience to support the organization’s reactivation of its spaces after the pandemic, engagement of new partnerships with artists and peer organizations, and leadership role in the revitalization of downtown San Francisco.

“I’m a former SOMA neighbor and spent countless afternoons studying and writing in YBCA, so the organization and the neighborhood is near and dear to me,” said McClelland.  “I’m honored to be invited to collaborate with this incredible team on the urgent work they are doing on behalf of San Francisco’s cultural communities and beyond. The organization has the opportunity to play a unique role in bringing creativity and heart where it’s long overdue.”

Both Macmadu and McClelland have Bay Area roots and a deep understanding of the social and cultural local landscape. As a former professional ballet dancer, Macmadu continues to champion creative expression and the transformative power of the performing arts. Lauren is deeply committed to promoting and educating others about the importance of representation in ballet and in the arts—an ethos that aligns with YBCA’s own mission.

As a filmmaker and writer himself, McClelland is also committed to the cathartic and revelatory power of art, especially how it engages with issues of economic and systemic injustice. His most recent book, Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley, highlights these issues through a series of interviews with a cross-section of the Bay Area’s residents, exploring the ways in which rapid change has created both crisis and opportunity across the region. As downtown San Francisco remains in a state of transition, McClelland’s insight will help shapeYBCA’s contribution to a thoughtful and equitable revitalization of the city.

Both additions reflect YBCA’s commitment to the reemergence of downtown, to engaging and growing audiences for art and performance in San Francisco, contributing to the local cultural ecosystem and raising the standards of equity and belonging that organizations like YBCA have the responsibility to model.

YBCA engaged Work. Shouldn’t. Suck., a human resources and organizational design consultancy helping to reimagine workplaces where everyone can thrive, for the Head of External Relations search.

About Lauren Macmadu

Lauren Macmadu is a seasoned marketing executive and former professional ballet dancer with more than two decades of experience helping organizations realize their vision through innovative marketing and communications strategies. Prior to joining YBCA, Lauren served as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Donor Network West, the federally designated non-profit organ procurement organization for northern California and northern Nevada. At Donor Network West, Lauren led the organization’s shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing during the pandemic; implemented a marketing strategy focused on storytelling increasing overall engagement; secured partnerships with the Golden State Warriors, San Jose Earthquakes and Reno Aces elevating the organization’s reach and visibility; and developed new programs surpassing year-over-year fundraising goals.

A San Francisco native, Lauren graduated from the San Francisco Ballet School’s professional training program and went on to dance professionally with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City. Since returning to California, Lauren continues to share her love of ballet with aspiring dancers and has taught at a variety of ballet schools throughout the state, including most recently at the San Francisco Ballet School. As an African American ballet dancer, Lauren is committed to promoting and educating others about the importance of representation in ballet.

Lauren received her master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Golden Gate University and her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Education from the University of California at Berkeley. Lauren believes in lifelong learning and recently completed leadership courses through Harvard Business School Online.

About Cary McClelland

Cary McClelland is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and rights advocate whose work has taken him around the world to document and bring to life stories of people persisting in turbulent times. He has trained former child soldiers to be journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, engaged in conflict transformation programs in liberated East Timor, worked alongside opposition activists in Zimbabwe, and collaborated on advocacy campaigns in Egypt, Syria and Myanmar.

His award-winning film, Without Shepherds, documented the lives of six people fighting against extremism in Pakistan, and his innovative new media work with WITNESS and Google was nominated for a Webby award. In his newly released book, Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley, published by W.W. Norton, Cary turns his lens back home to create a portrait of a city transformed by the tech industry, through the stories of its citizens, past and present. The book explores the challenges posed by the new American economy, serves as a clarion call for action on behalf of those underserved and displaced, and is perhaps a story of hope that so many are working to address their common challenges.

As an attorney, Cary recently represented major media companies, journalists and artists in defense of the First Amendment, as well as individuals and organizations on the frontlines of Covid-19 response efforts in lawsuits to hold federal and local officials accountable, among other impact litigation efforts. Cary holds a B.A. from Harvard University, a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

About Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Opened to the public in 1993, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) was founded as the cultural anchor of San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens neighborhood. Our work spans the realms of contemporary art, performance, film, civic engagement, and public life. By centering artists as essential to social and cultural movement, YBCA is reimagining the role an arts institution can play in the communities it serves. For more information, visit


Ed Winstead
Vice President, Cultural Counsel
[email protected]

Allison Brainard
Account Executive, Cultural Counsel
[email protected]

Jo Urtasun
Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel
[email protected]