Suhaly Bautista-Carolina

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy

Suhaly Bautista-Carolina headshot: a caramel-skin toned woman with black, curly hair stands smiling against a brown, wooden wall with swirling grooves. She is wearing a black jumpsuit with white stripes and puffy pink earrings. Her hands are clasped together against her chin.

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

I serve as the Director of Public Programs and Partnerships at the American LGBTQ+ Museum, which will open its first galleries on the New York Historical Society campus in late 2026. Right now, I have the privilege of shaping the role since I’m the first to hold it. That includes a lot of experimentation, trying things out while doing them with integrity and in partnership with others. This is a major advantage to being a young museum. We get to explore what our audiences desire and lean into that as we lay down our roots. Some of my responsibilities include curating our public programs, designing our educational initiatives, including forthcoming internships and fellowships, developing youth and family programs such as festivals and art-making, nourishing partnerships with other mission-aligned organizations, archives, collectives, and individuals, and identifying opportunities for collaboration across New York City and around the country. As a member of the senior leadership team I also support our visionary leader and executive director, Ben Garcia, in cultivating relationships on behalf of the museum.

What were you doing before you came to NYU Wagner?

I'm very proud to be a double NYU Violet. I studied as an undergraduate major at the College of Arts & Sciences in English Language and Literature, going straight from undergrad to graduate school, while also interning full-time at the US Mission to the United Nations. The passions I found during my undergraduate studies for wanting to make an impact in the world and my desire to travel carried over into Wagner and provided me with a compass. As an undergrad, I worked as a resident assistant on campus and was very involved in activities around sustainability. That led me to be named as one of NYUs “15 most influential students” and dubbed “The Earth Warrior” on campus.

Why did you choose NYU Wagner for graduate school?

I had a great undergraduate experience at NYU. I felt that the professors at Wagner, and the research they were conducting was aligned with the kind of work that I was interested in. I thought, if others are moving on from Wagner into roles at institutions I trust to be making an impact on the world in a positive way, then going into this program will equip me with the skills and experiences I need in order to do good in these ways, too.

What impact do you hope to make through your career and/or organization?

The role that I'm in right now with a national museum is much bigger in scope than any position that I've held before. I’m exploring many of the questions I've had for a long time, like: How do queer people live in other parts of the country; what are their values; do they feel supported? What are the struggles and how do they vary regionally? How can we elevate the stories of LGBTQ+ folks who are living in isolation or do not see themselves as having community in certain parts of the country, and what can a museum do? One of my goals in my work is to emphasize to others that museums are made of people who can be change makers if they decide to be. Part of my work is demonstrating that museums can be places of change, that we can contribute to the conversations that are important in our communities, that we can make programs and exhibitions that really move the needle and inspire civic action as well as conversations around policy, around how people live, or what resources people have access to. I hope to at least be one example that this is possible.

How did being in New York City impact your professional journey?

I was born and raised in New York, and this city is very important to me. My current work is something that I feel very connected to because the American LGBTQ+ Museum will have its headquarters in NYC, in my home district, in the neighborhood where I was born and raised. This is really special for me and allows me to feel connected to this journey on a personal level. This is my city. This is my neighborhood. These are my people, the LGBTQ+ community is my community. I feel very personally committed to ensuring the success of our programs and partnerships because I'm a representation of so much of what's inside of this dream and this aspiration. This is something that's going to be part of my city. This is going to be something that's going to be part of my daughter’s life, and part of the arts and cultural landscape of NY and beyond. I want my career to be a unique record of someone who was challenging the idea of what a museum can do. I want my practice to show that museums can be places of inspiration and possibility.