The Bessie Smith Cultural Center has a new leader. (Photo: Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Officials announced Tuesday that Paula Wilkes is the new president of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

“After a thorough selection process, the board determined the best candidate for the position was already working for the organization and we are pleased to announce Paula Wilkes as the new President of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center,” Bessie Smith Cultural Center board of directors Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said in a prepared statement.

Wilkes has been serving as interim president since November 1, 2017.


Before that, she was director of operations for three years, during which she handled day-to-day operations, marketing and special events.

She has an “extensive” background in the nonprofit sector including marketing, public relations, event planning, organization management, fundraising and development, according to a news release.

She has been an independent consultant for area nonprofits for more than nine years and has lived in the Chattanooga area most of her life.

She currently lives with her husband Randy and daughter Savanna, a senior at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences.