AJM Media Center | NEWSROOM


January 21, 2016

For more information, contact:

Christopher Burnett | Museum Director of Marketing Communications
[email protected]| 816 421-6121
Don Pfannenstiel | Integrated Marketing & Communications
[email protected] | 913 706-8660

Paul Andrews Photography

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner Tapped to Lead
American Jazz Museum

KANSAS CITY, MO — The American Jazz Museum (AJM) announced today the appointment of Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner as Executive Director of the organization.

A seasoned nonprofit leader who has garnered numerous awards and recognition for her work, Kositany-Buckner accepts the position following a 25-year career with the Kansas City Public Library, where she rose from network administrator in the IT Department to Deputy Director.

The announcement follows a comprehensive national search that included significant local stakeholder involvement and discussions with the leadership of some of the top music and African American cultural institutions in the U.S.

“From the beginning, our vision has been ambitious,” said AJM Board Chair Trey Runnion. “and we sought leadership that will help us achieve that vision – to become a premier destination that will expand the influence and knowledge of jazz in Greater Kansas City and throughout the world.”

“While the competition was impressive, there was no question in the minds of the Search Committee and Board that Cheptoo has the broad perspective, experience, and community knowledge to be able to help us hit the ground running and accelerate our progress,’ “ Runnion said.

Third District City Councilman and AJM board member Jermaine Reed echoed the excitement: “The American Jazz Museum will benefit greatly from having a strong, passionate and community-focused trailblazer to help further the rejuvenation of the 18th & Vine District. Cheptoo understands the needs of the community and has the ability to formulate a strategy that would create programs and services beneficial to the surrounding neighborhoods as well as the business community, civic organizations, philanthropic associations and tourists.”

Earlier this month, the City Council heard a proposal sponsored by Reed that would invest $18 million in Kansas City’s Jazz District, including $1.3 million for the Jazz Museum to make improvements to exhibits, the Jay McShann Pavilion on the museum’s north side, and the Blue Room, adding a restaurant to the complex.

“I look forward to working with the city, neighborhood, colleagues at 18th & Vine District, community stakeholders, jazz musicians, civic leadership, the arts community, education institutions, board and staff in continuing to build the AJM brand and its presence – here at home in Kansas City, nationally and internationally,” said Kositany-Buckner.

“Coming to Kansas City in 1988, my first apartment was in Parade Park, and I remember going to El Capitan and the other great places that made up 18th & Vine,” she said. “AJM – and the District as a whole – are so incredibly important to the history and culture of Kansas City and the African American experience here. Today, with renewed energy and support around the District, I firmly believe we are poised to achieve that vision to make AJM and 18th & Vine a premier destination for tourism, entertainment, research, education and a better understanding of the role of jazz in our city’s and nation’s history.”

“Though it is a great loss to the Kansas City Public Library, and to national Digital Inclusion efforts, I couldn’t be more pleased for the Jazz Museum, the City and my friend and colleague Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner for her new job at the American Jazz Museum,” said Kansas City Public Library Executive Director Crosby Kemper III.

“She will put it and Kansas City on the national and international map as she has with our internet endeavors and so much else. Bravo Kansas City! Brava Cheptoo!”

Kositany-Buckner’s Background

In her role as Deputy Director at the Kansas City Public Library, Kositany-Buckner led key projects that include the design and renovation of the library’s L.H. Bluford and Plaza branches, and the development and launch of the award-winning website, “Civil War on the Western Border.” In the Bluford Library, Kositany-Buckner incorporated a Health & Wellness Center, providing resources and health screenings in partnership with Truman Medical Centers. She assumed oversight of strategic initiatives in early 2015, spearheading the Library’s ongoing involvement in a community-wide effort to bridge the digital divide in Kansas City by expanding underserved residents’ access to computer and Internet access.

A recipient of the President’s Award from the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in November Kositany-Buckner was awarded the Lucile H. Bluford Special Achievement Award from the Kansas City Chapter of the NAACP.

A Board member and officer of the Black Archives of Mid-America, Kositany-Buckner has been instrumental in working with the staff to revitalize that organization and managed the first permanent exhibit in the Kansas City area on the history of African Americans in the city. This initiative helped forge a strategic alliance between the Black Archives and the Library.

A native of Kenya, she moved to the United States to attend the University of Central Missouri, where she graduated with a degree in computer information systems, one of only two women in the IT program at the time. She holds a certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Executive Education and International Programs. She is a past president of the Mid-American Library Alliance Council, serves on the boards of the Kansas City Public School Retirement System and the KC STEM Alliance, and is a member of the Chancellor’s African American Leaders Council at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the executive committee of American Public Square.

Kositany-Buckner assumes her new role during the first part of March.


Opening in 1997 as the anchor to Kansas City’s 18th & Vine District Redevelopment, the mission of the American Jazz Museum is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through performance, exhibition, education, and research at one of the country’s jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine.

Operating with a budget of approximately $2 million, a staff of 25 full- and part-time associates and a large corps of volunteers, AJM is the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz music. More than a single-site visitor destination, AJM is a multi-faceted organization that allows children and adults, alike, to learn and experience jazz and American jazz heritage through the Museum’s Blue Room, Swing Shop, Changing Gallery and the historic Gem Theater. AJM has garnered numerous awards and recognition, including repeated recognition by Downbeat Magazine and the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, for Top 100 Jazz Clubs in the World, Best Jazz Club, and Best Jazz Festival.

AJM is currently hosting “Hale Woodruff: Coming Home,” a special exhibit of family holdings of “Amistad” artist Hale Woodruff, which will run through February in the Changing Gallery. “Coming Home” is a companion exhibit to “Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College,” running concurrently at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

In addition, the Jammin’ at the Gem concert series continues in ’16 with a variety of performers: Kim Waters / Valentine’s Concert (Feb. 13); Patti Austin celebrating Women in Jazz (March 26); Joshua Redman — the Jazz Appreciation Month Concert (April 16); and Ida McBeth, who will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award (May 14).

AJM will also feature, “50 Women – A Celebration of Women’s Contributions to Ceramics.” This event — in the Changing Gallery, March 16-June 30 — will be one of the first female-only exhibition of ceramics in the U.S. and will promote the discourse of female contributions to the arts.

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PHOTO L-R: Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, Trey Runnion, Ralph Reid, Anita Maltbia, Michael Gerken





o Download hi-res exhibition photos from Dropbox
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o Google Search Results: “American Jazz Museum Executive Director Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner”
o JAZZIZ Magazine / Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner named new director of the American Jazz Museum
o AJM Press Release / Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner Tapped to Lead American Jazz Museum
o New York Times: The Mets, the Royals and Charlie Parker … 10-30-15
o AP Story: New York City, Kansas City jazz museums bet on World Series – 10-28-15
o New York & Kansas City Jazz Museums Swingin’ for the Fences with World Series Bet 10-28-15
o NYC KCMO Jazz Museums Press Release – 10 -27-15
o Plastic Sax Review: The 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival – 10-11-15
o “All Hail to Hale” exhibition in the media – 2015-2016
o Dr. Rowena Stewart Media Alert – 9-19-15
o AJM Ralph Reid Press Release – 8-13-15
o The Call – 8-13-15
o Kansas City Business Journal – 8-13-15
o The Kansas City Star – 8-13-15
o AJM Position Announcement – 08-15
o KC Studio Magazine – September/October issue (pg 62)
o C-SPAN school bus crew toured the American Jazz Museum – Dr. Rowena Stewart – 01-08-2001




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Located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, MO, the American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club and Gem Theater.Since its inception in 1997, the Museum has hosted thousands of students, scholars, musicians fans for over 200 performances, education programs, special exhibitions, community events and more each year, providing an opportunity to learn about the legends, honor their legacy, or simply enjoy the sounds of Kansas City jazz.Our mission is to celebrate and exhibit the experience of jazz as an original American art form through research, exhibition, education and performance at one of the country’s greatest jazz crossroads – 18th & Vine.As the only museum in the world solely focused on the preservation, exhibition and advancement of jazz, the American Jazz Museum is dedicated to public service and collaborative efforts to expand the influence, awareness and appreciation of jazz within Kansas City and to audiences worldwide.


Board of Directors .pdf – more than a museum flyer Jazz Storytelling .pdf – community collaborations flyer
Administrative Staff In The Blue Room .pdf – facility rental flyer .pdf – professional performance services
Lifetime Achievement Award .pdf – gem theater flyer .pdf – charlie parker memorial flyer .pdf – corporate ads & sponsorship
Brief Institutional History .pdf – changing gallery flyer .pdf – john baker film collection flyer .pdf – support the museum flyer
Permanent Exhibit Jazz Poetry Jams .pdf – student workshops & performances flyer PEER Into The Future


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Christopher L. Burnett
Marketing + Communications
(o) 816.421.6121
(e) [email protected]