Today, the Scottsdale, Ariz.–based nonprofit Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation announced the appointment of Stuart Graff as its president and CEO. A business leader trained in intellectual property law, Graff has served as vice president of global paint and coatings manufacturer Valspar's Guardsman consumer division since 2009. Before that, Graff was the general manager of the Parker and Waterman luxury fountain pen brands.
Born in Chicago, Graff developed a love of 20th-century architecture, especially works by Wright. "Since I was very young, Frank Lloyd Wright has inspired me with his constant experimentation and innovation, and his unwillingness to rest on laurels," Graff said in a press release. "His approach to his profession has been a source of inspiration in the way I've chosen to live my life personally and professionally—exploring, learning, experimenting, and growing." In his new role, Graff will focus on improving the organization's financial stability through both earned and contributed revenues.
Graff will likely also help the foundation settle the issues it has faced in recent years regarding the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture's threatened accreditation. New rules instated by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a Chicago-based regional accrediting body, required the school to file for independent incorporation as an institution with the primary purpose of offering higher education. Last year, the school successfully fundraised $2 million in an effort to prove its financial independence from the foundation. Now, the foundation must work with the school board and staff to send an application comprising drafts of legal and incorporation documents to the HLC, which is expected to review the application in June. If the HLC approves the application, the foundation will file documents with federal and state agencies to establish the school as an autonomous, independently incorporated subsidiary of the foundation, a process expected to be complete by early 2017.
"We see in Stuart a business leader whose extensive experience in intellectual property law and project management and whose personal passion for Wright will move this organization forward as we advance Wright's ideas for a new generation," foundation board chair Alanna Mack said in the press release.
Graff will replace Sean Malone in this role on Feb. 1. Malone has led the organization since 2012, overseeing a comprehensive preservation master plan and an initiative to make Taliesin West a net-zero-energy site.