National Comedy Center Expands Development Initiatives with Appointment of Joanna Hootnick as Chief Advancement Officer

National Comedy Center Expands Development Initiatives with Appointment of Joanna Hootnick as Chief Advancement Officer

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Jamestown, New York – March 16, 2022 – The National Comedy Center, the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy, today announced the appointment of development executive Joanna Hootnick as Chief Advancement Officer, as it expands its fundraising and outreach strategies to support its non-profit mission, state-of-the-art museum and educational outreach efforts.


Hootnick will lead all development and fundraising initiatives for the non-profit organization, reporting to National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson. She’ll develop and execute new philanthropic strategies, annual giving campaigns, major gifts and membership initiatives while working closely with current funders and foundation partners.


Hootnick brings two decades of experience in development and fundraising in the education sector, leading campaign planning and operations, major gifts and annual giving efforts for Columbia University, New York University and Teach for America. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, two master’s degrees in education from Columbia University and an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.


“We’re pleased to welcome Joanna, whose vision, passion and extensive experience will be vital to the National Comedy Center’s development efforts as our cultural institution continues to grow rapidly and expand its reach,” stated National Comedy Center executive director Journey Gunderson. “Joanna fills a pivotal leadership role, enabling us to further realize our non-profit mission of presenting and preserving comedy’s great heritage while providing education on the art form to new generations.”


“It’s a true honor to join the National Comedy Center and work closely with Journey and the team to take its development and fundraising strategies to a new level,” stated Joanna Hootnick. “The preservation and educational outreach work being done here to support this vital art form is extraordinary – and deserves comprehensive, innovative and data-driven development strategies to ensure that the National Comedy Center can continue its impact for years to come.”


The National Comedy Center was named the “Best New Museum” in the country by USA Today in 2020 and selected by TIME as one of its “World’s Greatest Places” and by People magazine as one of “100 Reasons to Love America.” In 2019, it was formally designated by the United States’ Congress as the nation’s official cultural institution dedicated to the art form of comedy. Based on the vision of Jamestown native Lucille Ball for her hometown to become a destination for comedy, the National Comedy Center showcases comedy’s great minds and unique voices in ways that engage, inspire, educate and entertain while providing an examination of the time-honed creative processes that have elevated comedy to an art. The Comedy Center’s mission is to provide education on the comedic arts in the form of commentary and contextualization of its bodies of work across all eras and genres of the art form.


The National Comedy Center has collaborated with dozens of artists and estates to preserve materials that represent comedy’s significant artistic, social, and political contributions to American culture including collections illustrating the careers of legendary artists like George Carlin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Carl Reiner, Lenny Bruce and The Smothers Brothers, and the development of groundbreaking creative work such as sketch comedy series In Living Color, and more.


In 2022, plans are underway for two new, large-scale multi-media exhibits – the most significant enhancements to the National Comedy Center since its opening in 2018 – as the Comedy Center celebrates Johnny Carson on the 60th anniversary of his first Tonight Show, and honors Carl Reiner during his centennial year. Future plans include the completion of an expansion in Jamestown, NY for the home of “The Hall,” honoring the greats of stand-up comedy, in partnership with Netflix’s new comedy special debuting this spring from executive producers Marty Callner, Randall Gladstein and David Steinberg.


The National Comedy Center’s Advisory Board includes the recent addition of Tiffany Haddish – filling the seat held by the late Carl Reiner – along with Jim Gaffigan, Lewis Black, W. Kamau Bell, Paula Poundstone, Pixar’s Pete Doctor, Paul Feig, Kelly Carlin, and more.


The National Comedy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural institution whose mission is funded by philanthropic support. Donations and grants support the museum and its work to present the vital story of comedy and preserve its heritage for future generations. Visit