From 2013 - 2021, Elysia Borowy served as Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, where she redefined a living laboratory that collaborates with artists to make and present new artwork and a vast slate of public programs to the public.  


Borowy led high-level fundraising including a $15M capital campaign, securing 7-figure grants and donations, and built a national and international network of patrons. Working closely with boards and navigating complex, cross-sector negotiations, Borowy pioneered new governance structures, communication strategies, funding mechanisms, and international partnerships. 

Additional accomplishments include securing the Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Futures Fund to develop a permanent collection care plan and support DEAI initiatives; creating an earned revenue initiative that supports artists through mission-related limited editions; designing inclusive processes for a strategic plan, development assessment, mission rewrite, and building feasibility study; and advocating for the region’s cultural sector when city and state funding were at risk. 


She previously held senior positions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Borowy has spearheaded groundbreaking exhibitions that have been reviewed by Artforum, The New York Times, Paper Magazine, the Village Voice, and others. Some past projects include solo shows devoted to artists including KAWS, Arthur Jafa, Sadie Laska, Richard Prince, Dara Friedman, and Sanford Biggers.

Her leadership has been supported throughout her career, she was a 2019-2020 cohort member of National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. She was also a member of the Arts & Culture Task Force, which identified policy and budgetary recommendations for Milwaukee City Council to best respond to the economic crisis caused in 2008. From 2011 to 2013, Borowy was the founding Director of CAM Raleigh in Raleigh, North Carolina in partnership with North Carolina State University. CAM Raleigh was opened with the support of NCSU and a mix of tax credits.

Recent projects include Brigitte D’Annibale’s B=f(P, E) — a long-term immersive site in Malibu that has been reviewed by Artnet and other publications, and Femme F(r)iction at the Academy Mansion in New York, an exhibition realized with C1760 celebrating the work of over 50 historic and contemporary women artists.

Throughout her career, Borowy has served on professional panels and advisory committees such as the NEA and the Detroit Advisory Panel for the US Pavilion Venice Architecture Pavilion. She has also served as a visiting faculty member, guest lecturer, and instructor, including at Columbia College’s Department of Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management in Chicago.

Borowy holds a Master of Art History and Master of Art Education from Michigan State University and has completed multiple nonprofit management certificate programs at the Yale School of Management and the Harvard School of Business. In 2020, she completed her Harvard School of Business certificate with a focus on philanthropy, new business models, systems thinking, and social impact. She attended Antioch College as an undergrad and was a Getty Fellow in 2008.

Borowy is currently based in Detroit and runs VHE Art



Elysia Borowy Career Highlights  

Acted as a lead selector for the Federal Government Art in Architecture program's selection process, resulting in a significant commission with artist Nick Cave for 985 Michigan Avenue in Detroit from 2016 to 2022 (Nick Cave: Palimpsest).

Facilitated and actively contributed to the organization and curation of more than 70 exhibitions, including 34 dedicated to women artists and 51 highlighting artists of color. 

Successfully awarded a total of $26 million in grants, including a private individual amount of $17 million, for various arts and culture projects.

Established a unique partnership with the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in 2018-2020, providing residency space in NYC and solo exhibitions for artists of color supported by the Kettering Foundation based in Dayton.

Spearheaded the Ford Curatorial Fellowship for Diversity, securing significant funding from the Ford Foundation between 2015 through 2020.

Raised nearly $2 million annually for MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) operations, doubled the operating budget, eliminated debt ($700K), and increased full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing.


Expanded board membership from 21 to 33 members, each committed to a give-or-get contribution of $10,000.

Established a Leadership Level of donors, requiring a give-or-get contribution of $25,000, resulting in a substantial increase in funding for our operating budget.

Founded a national advisory board in 2015, capitalizing on the growing momentum of Detroit, which greatly enhanced the museum's visibility and reputation. By 2020, the advisory board had expanded to include 46 esteemed members, further elevating the profile of the museum.


Established an endowment for MOCAD at a regional foundation.

In 2019, initiated a critical $15 million capital campaign to fund essential renovations at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) and took charge of the architectural planning process. By the end of 2020, secured commitments of $7 million towards the campaign goal, with written contracts including naming recognition.

Organized donor art trips to Cuba, Brazil, Scandinavia, Japan, Art Basel Switzerland,  Art Basel Miami, Frieze Art Week LA, and Mexico City. 

Successfully gained site control for MOCAD and led the campaign for the Magonian Foundation to donate the facility to the Museum.

Planned and executed signature fundraising events that enhanced the brand and achieved set goals.

Organized over 15 art benefit auctions for MCA Chicago, CAM Raleigh, and MOCAD.

Secured a multi-year grant of $750,000 from the Knight Foundation for technology-based art.

Launched the MOCAD Museum Store and Online Store.

Led the NCSU Art and Architecture Department in the successful opening of CAM Raleigh, a non-collecting contemporary art museum housed in a repurposed building in downtown Raleigh, NC in partnership with the university. 

Closed out brownfield tax credit and new market tax credit for CAM Raleigh.

Featured seven times on the front page of the NY Times Arts + Styles Section.

Led MCA Chicago to the successful completion of a Lilla Wallace Reader's Digest grant of $1.2 million.

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