Haggin Museum longtime staffer Susan Obert named new CEO

The Stockton Record
Published April 23, 2021

The Haggin Museum has announced longtime staffer Susan Obert has been named its new CEO, with board leaders calling her “the right person at the right time” for the iconic Stocktoninstitution. She will be the first woman to lead the nearly 100-year-old museum, a “treasured institution” she says it will be an honor to serve.

Obert will step into the role May 22, succeeding CEO and Curator Tod Ruhstaller, who announced his retirement in January after 37 years of service.

Obert has been with the museum for 19 years, as director of development, then as deputy director,The Haggin said in a news release announcing her appointment.

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With The Haggin’s 90th anniversary coming up in June, Obert said she is “honored and committed to taking on this next chapter in The Haggin’s future.”

“The Haggin could not have a more qualified person to serve as its next CEO than Susan,” saidRuhstaller, who told The Record earlier this month how happy he was with the selection of his replacement.

“In the 19 years she has been with the museum as its director of development and later as its deputy director, she has not only become familiar with practically every aspect of this institution’s everyday operations and management but has also become its public face through her many community outreach efforts and various social media platforms,” he said.

Obert said that while the museum has a world-class collection as its foundation, its strength has always been the museum’s volunteers, members, and the community.

Obert’s experience “is rooted in fund development, which provides her with a clear understanding of the importance for institutional financial sustainability, which has become even more critical as we emerge from the pandemic,” the museum said in the statement.

The museum cites her marketing and business background along with her deep commitment to community collaboration as factors in their choice. Her work in securing James Irvine Foundation grants led to the 2017 reinterpretation and redesign of The Haggin’s core art galleries, allowing the museum to “think bigger than we normally did … to think more about the community and people we’re serving,” she told The Record in 2010.

“As a committee, we took our responsibility of being stewards of the Haggin Museum legacy very seriously,” John McKinley, board chairman, and search committee member said. “Susan stood out as an experienced and highly-regarded leader who is deeply connected in our community and committed to collaboration. We felt strongly that she would be the right person at the right time for the institution.”

Obert was born in San Francisco and raised in Southern California, but since graduating from California State University, Fresno with her master’s degree in sports marketing, she has lived in the San Joaquin Valley. She and Andy Raugust moved to Stockton in 1998 while he was working on the course design for The Reserve at Spanos Park, and she enjoys outdoor activities such as sports, gardening, and walking with her Australian shepherd, Frank.

Obert has spent her entire career working in the nonprofit sector and her experience prior to working for the museum includes Delta Health Care in Stockton, Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock and the Fresno State Athletic Department in Fresno.

She says she has always been active in the community, from being a founding member of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of California to her work as a board member and current treasurer of VisitStockton.

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