State humanities council executive director bios, by state
Alabama Humanties Foundation
Armand DeKeyser began as the new executive of the Alabama Humanities Foundation on June 1, 2012. A native of Mobile and a graduate of Auburn University, DeKeyser returned to his home state after a number of years working in Washington, DC, most notably as Chief of Staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions. DeKeyser’s experience across Alabama fits with the AHF’s recently renewed commitment to offer programming in every county in the state. In addition to his more than 30 years of leadership experience in government and private business, DeKeyser is a 28-year veteran of Army active and reserve military duty.
President & CEO
Alaska Humanities Forum
Nina Kemppel assumed her duties as the new President/CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum in August 2012. Prior to joining the Forum, Nina was a principal at the Coraggio Group, a West Coast strategy and organizational change firm based in Portland, Oregon. She has worked with many non-profit organizations to develop long-term growth strategies and improve operations. Nina also spent four years at Oliver Wyman, a global consulting firm, in their Boston office where she worked with Fortune 500 companies on strategic and business growth initiatives.
Alaskans may well remember Nina Kemppel as a four-time Winter Olympian in cross-country skiing. In an international racing career that spanned 13 years Nina also claimed a record 18 national championships. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, she skied to 15th place in the 30-kilometer classical race, which at the time marked the highest Olympic finish in history by an American woman. She also won Seward’s Mount Marathon race nine times, including eight in a row.
Nina has a B.A. in Economics from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the United States Olympic Committee. Nina is a member of the Athena Society and was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Amerika Samoa Humanities Council
Niualama E. Taifane is the first Executive Director of the Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, which was established in 1994. She holds an M.Ed. from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Before joining the ASHC, Ms. Taifane served the American Samoa Government for 18 years through the Department of Education. She was a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and education specialist for the Special Education Division. She taught two University of Hawaii-Special Education undergraduate courses at the American Samoa Community College under the auspices of the University Affiliated Program. She is High Talking Chief.
Arizona Humanities Council
Brenda Thomson assumed her duties as Executive Director of the Arizona Humanities Council in March 2010. "Brenda Thomson brings with her a contagious enthusiasm for humanities work and a fountain of fresh and innovative ideas to move the Council forward into the 21st century. Her passion for celebrating diverse literacies and expanding the AHC outreach to new and diverse communities is fundamentally connected to AHC's vision, mission, and values. We are extremely lucky to have Brenda at the helm," said Dr. Neal A. Lester, Chair of the Arizona Humanities Council Board of Directors.
Thomson specializes in executive management, fundraising, human resources, public speaking, community relations, and strategic planning. Prior to joining the Arizona Humanities Council, Thomson served as the Director of LearnLaw LLC, Director of The Center for Law Leadership and Management at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU, and Executive Director of the Maricopa County Bar Association.
She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Yale University in 1983 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1989. Thomson said, "I went to Yale to become a composer. I studied piano for many years and wrote music, and had dreamed of becoming a songwriter. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with literature and poetry and decided to major in English."
Her passion for literature and the humanities attracted her to the Arizona Humanities Council. "The humanities teach us about all facets of the human experience, and more. They help us bridge cultural, religious, and viewpoint differences, and learn what we have in common."
Thomson also enjoys spending time with organizations that promote education and diversity through a wide array of community and volunteer activities which include reading to 3rd graders each week with BookPALS, the Diversity Leadership Alliance, AZ State Bar Diversity Task Force, Valley Leadership, Florence Crittendon, Glendale Chamber Foundation, Phoenix Rotary 100, and Park Central Toastmasters.
Paul S. Austin
Arkansas Humanities Council
Paul Austin became executive director of the Arkansas Humanities Council in 2008. For 23 years he served as executive director of the American Indian Center of Arkansas, a nonprofit organization that receives substantial federal funding. In his capacity as AICA executive, he also has served as executive director of the National Trail of Tears Association, which supports documentation and interpretation of the U.S. Indian removals of the 1830s. Paul, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arkansas State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has long been active in public humanities circles in Arkansas and nationally. He served on the Arkansas Humanities Council board for six years, two of them as chair. His experience includes working effectively with nonprofit boards, managing federal grants, and lobbying at the state and national level.
California Council for the Humanities
Ralph Lewin will become Executive Director of the California Council for the Humanities on March 8, 2008. Lewin has been with CCH since 1992 serving first as Program Officer when he opened the CCH’s San Diego office. He moved to San Francisco in 1995 and was promoted to assistant director and then associate director in November 1999. He holds an M.A. degree from San Francisco State University in International Relations and a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Political Science and Germanic Languages and Literature. He is former Adjunct Professor, Faculty of the Humanities, University of Buenos Aires.
Margaret A. Coval
Colorado Endowment for the Humanities
Margaret A. Coval has been Executive Director of Colorado Humanities since 1997. She joined the Colorado Humanities staff in 1982 and has served as Program Officer, Assistant Director, and Associate Director. Prior to moving to Colorado, she was employed by Binghamton University. Coval has a B.A. from Colgate University, an M.A. from the University of Denver, and is a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Executive Leadership Program. While at Colorado Humanities, Coval has developed and directed dozens of public humanities programs. She is co-founder of the High Plains Chautauqua, executive producer of the NEH funded Conversations 2000 public radio programs and the Five States of Colorado documentary film, and has developed several institutes for K-12 teachers. In 2004, Coval facilitated the merger of the Colorado Center for the Book with Colorado Humanities, securing the Center’s future and doubling the number of CH programs. She is a member of the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils and serves on the Federation’s Legislative and Conference Planning Committees. Recently she served on the Colorado Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and has served on the advisory boards of the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future and the El Pomar Foundation.
Stuart L. Parnes
Connecticut Humanities Council
Stuart Parnes was appointed executive director of the Connecticut Humanities Council following a six-month term as interim director. Parnes is well-known to museum professionals around the state, having worked with history museums in Connecticut for 30 years.
Parnes, who joined the CHC full time in July 2010, worked for more than two decades at Mystic Seaport as director of exhibitions and interpretive programming. He served as director of the Connecticut River Museum in Essex before moving to Maryland in 2006 to head the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Parnes was a Connecticut Humanities Council board member during the 1990s and was chair of the Council from 1996 to 1998.
A Thomas Watson Fellow and graduate of the Hotchkiss School and Middlebury College, Parnes has served on numerous regional, national, and international museum boards and is currently the secretary general of the International Congress of Maritime Museums and a peer reviewer for the American Association of Museums.
Delaware Humanities Forum
Marilyn Whittington became executive director of the Delaware Humanities Forum in October 2002. Mrs. Whittington most recently worked as a licensed real estate agent for Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors. She is former special assistant to the regional administrator for the federal Small Business Administration's Region III, former special assistant to the State Secretary of Services to Children, Youth, and Families and director of constituent relations for the governor of Delaware. Mrs. Whittington has also served on the boards of community organizations, most recently as chair of the Delaware Humanities Council. She earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Delaware.
Humanities Council of Washington, DC
Joy Austin was appointed Executive Director of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC in December, 2000. She joined the council after serving as a program manager for the Center for Arts and Culture in Washington, DC. Prior to her work at the Center, Ms. Austin was a consultant to the Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI, where she worked with the Kellogg Expert in Residence Program, as well as consulted with the foundation on all aspects of the creation of a monument to the Underground Railroad. Ms. Austin received her BA in English Literature from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and a Master of Science Degree in Non-Profit Administration at Trinity College in Washington, DC. She recently completed a survey of African American Museums for the Presidential Commission planning for the National Museum of African American History and Culture and was lead consultant to the Chicago Housing Authority and the ABLA Working Group on a feasibility study for the development of a museum of public housing. Additionally, she is working on a book about black museum pioneers, which stems from her previous work with the African American Museums Association.
Florida Humanities Council
Janine Farver joined the Florida Humanities Council staff in September 1992 and was appointed Executive Director in spring 2005. Prior to working for FHC, Janine worked for ten years as the station manager at WMNF Radio, a public radio station in Tampa. She worked in the film division of the California Department of Education and in the public relations department of the Consul General of Japan's office in San Francisco. Janine graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. As Director, she continues to oversee the Council's publications and communications, including Forum, the Council newsletter, the annual report, and the radio series. She also coordinates Parallel Lives programs and writes corporation and foundation proposals.
Executive Director / President
Georgia Humanities Council
Jamil Zainaldin holds the BA in History from the University of Virginia and the Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. Previously he was president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, deputy director of the American Historical Association, and staff director of the Task Force on Social Security and Women of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging. He is an adjunct professor at Emory University, and has taught at Northwestern and Case Western Reserve Universities. He is interested in how the humanities coincide with concepts of citizenship, civic engagement, and civic values.
Guam Humanities Council
In June 2005, Kimberlee Kihleng became Executive Director of the Guam Humanities Council. Kimberlee has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, which she received in 1996. Prior to coming to the Council, she served as the Executive Director of Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu for two and a half years. She was also the Research Administrator for Hawa'‘i Outcomes Institute with the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai'i. From 1997-2000, Kimberlee was the Visiting Scholar in Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam as well as Coordinator of the Women and Gender Studies Program. Kimberlee has carried-out long-term ethnographic research in Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) as well as short-term ethnographic study in the Republic of Palau. In the late 1980s, she also served as the first Historic Preservation Officer for the FSM national government.
Hawai'i Council for the Humanities
Robert (Bob) Buss has been executive director of the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities since 2003 and before that served as its program officer for twenty years. Bob's academic background is in comparative philosophy, with an emphasis on religious ethics and philosophy of art. He has taught philosophy, logic and critical thinking at Chaminade University of Honolulu and world religions at Kapiolani and Honolulu Community Colleges. He has a special interest in philosophy of literature, environmental ethics, and Confucian and Buddhist studies.
Idaho Humanities Council
Rick Ardinger is the Executive Director of the Idaho Humanities Council. A former magazine editor and English instructor, Mr. Ardinger served as IHC's Assistant Director from 1991 to 1996 before assuming the position of Executive Director in the fall of 1996. He holds a BA degree in English and Philosophy from Slippery Rock State College and an MA in English from Idaho State University. He is the author of several collections of poetry and the editor of several anthologies, including Where the Morning Light's Still Blue: Personal Essays about Idaho (University of Idaho Press, 1995). He is also a letterpress printer and the editor/publisher of Limberlost Press, a small press devoted to the craft of finely printed and handbound books of poetry by nationally known and regionally significant writers.
Illinois Humanities Council
Kristina A. Valaitis is Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities Council. She joined the IHC staff in 1979, and served successively as program officer, Director of Publications and Associate Director. She is currently vice chair of the board of the Northern Illinois University Foundation; and serves on the boards of the Donors Forum and the Chicago Metro History Education Center. Governor Blagojevich appointed her to serve on the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. She has been a member of the Advisory Committee for the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Public Education and the legislative committee of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. She is a member of the legislative committee of the Illinois Arts Alliance. She has served on the advisory boards of the Illinois Center for the Book, Illinois Heritage Tourism, and READ ILLINOIS and on the literature panel for the Illinois Arts Council, as well as on the Institutional Actions Committee of the North Central Association. She has served on various task forces and committees of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. Ms. Valaitis has been the author of essays and reviews on contemporary writers, liberal learning, and the public humanities. She wrote the accompanying essays for Illinois: A Photographic Portrait of the Prairie and for the recent Reflections. Riflessioni, a book of photographs of Venice by Peter Wexler. She has taught literature and humanities courses at Arizona State University where she was an assistant professor. Ms. Valaitis earned her bachelor's degree with high honors, and her MA, and Ph.D. in English literature from Northern Illinois University. She was a Graduate Fellow in English literature at University College, Oxford, England.
Indiana Humanities Council
A former assistant deputy mayor of Indianapolis and director of cultural development, Keira Amstutzled the city's successful Cultural Development Initiative, a public private collaboration launched to elevate the city's cultural profile. Amstutz has served on a variety of community boards such as the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, Indy Hub, the White River State Park, Herron School of Art and Design Dean's Advisory Council and Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. She has served on strategic committees for many community organizations and events including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four. The Indianapolis Business Journal named her one of the city's "40 under 40" in 2006.
Amstutz grew up in Hamilton, Indiana, graduated from DePauw University and served as a fellow in the office of former Indiana governor Evan Bayh. She earned a J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and is an alumna of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series.
Christopher Rossi was appointed Executive Director of Humanities Iowa in December 1998. He grew up in Iowa City. Dr. Rossi holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science from Washington University, a JD from the University of Iowa College of Law, an LLM in public international law from the University of London, and a Ph.D. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining Humanities Iowa, Dr. Rossi was Assistant Professor of International Politics and Foreign Policy at American University, Washington, DC and Director of the Office of Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, White House National Security Council. He is the author of Broken Chain of Being: James Brown Scott and the Origins of Modern International Law and Equity and International Law: A Legal Realist Approach to the Process of International Decision-Making.
Kansas Humanities Council
In January 2007, Julie Mulvihill became the second director in the organization's 34-year history. Julie previously served as the Council's Director of Programs, a position she held since joining the Council staff in 2001. Julie has worked in Kansas' historical and cultural sector for fifteen years. Her previous experience includes serving as education coordinator at the Kansas State Historical Society and curator of education at the Johnson County Museum. Other work experience includes teaching in the Kansas University Museum Studies graduate program, where she currently instructs the Nature of Museums course. On the national level, she is active with the American Association for State and Local History, working to strengthen best practices standards in small museums. A native Kansan, Mulvihill is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Masters in Historical Administration and Museum Studies. She lives with her husband in rural Jefferson County on the family farm.
Albert Benjamin Chandler III
Kentucky Humanities Council
A Kentucky native, and long-time supporter of the humanities and arts at the state and national level, Ben Chandler joined the Kentucky Humanities Council as its chief executive on July 1, 2013. Chandler comes to the Council after a 21-year career in Kentucky politics. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Chandler was a four-year member of the House Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations, which oversees the budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities. From February 2004 through January 2013 Chandler served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Kentucky’s 6th District. Prior to his work as a Congressman he was the 48th Attorney General of Kentucky (1996-2004) and the 45th Kentucky State Auditor (1992-1995).
Chandler graduated with distinction from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in history and a J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Chandler opened a private law practice before beginning his career in politics.
President & Executive Director
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
Michael Sartisky, PhD, has been President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities since 1982. He received a BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, on whose Alumni Board of Directors he formerly served, and MA and Ph.D. degrees in American Literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught at SUNY Buffalo, the University of New Orleans, and Loyola University. His critical afterword to Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's novel, Doctor Zay, was published by the Feminist Press at the City University of New York, and his interviews with major writers have been included in collections published by Oxford University Press and the University Press of Mississippi. He is the founding editor of the award-winning quarterly magazine, Louisiana Cultural Vistas, now in its 21st year. He won the Ashton Phelps Sr. Memorial Award for Editorial Writing from the New Orleans Press Club three times. He has served on the Louisiana Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee and serves on the $1 billion Louisiana Educational Quality Support Fund Planning Committee.
Hayden W. Anderson
Maine Humanities Council
Hayden W. Anderson joined the Maine Humanities Council as Executive Director in August 2012. Anderson was interim Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project in Portland for the past year, and since 2009 has served as the Development Director for the nonprofit immigration legal aid organization. A Certified Fund Raising Executive, he is an experienced nonprofit leader and certified as a strategic planning, board development, annual fund and capital campaign consultant.
Anderson has worked in development for Seattle University, Calumet Lutheran Ministries in New Hampshire, and for a Minneapolis fundraising consulting firm. Yet he also has a broad background in the humanities, earning a Ph.D and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Amherst College.
Maryland Humanities Council
Dr. Phoebe Stein joined the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) as Executive Director in July 2008, directing MHC’s programming, grant making, marketing, fundraising and governance efforts. With a mission of stimulating and promoting civic dialogue on issues critical to Marylanders, MHC annually brings over 500 free public humanities programs to communities across the state. Thousands more Marylanders experience the Maryland Humanities Council’s programs through broadcasts on local radio and television stations and through the internet.
Stein was on board for the final events of MHC’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Remembrance and Reconciliation special initiative, which won a Schwartz Prize for excellence in humanities programming in November 2008. Stein added to MHC’s roster of programming by developing its new Practicing Democracy initiative, which brings together people with opposing points of view to discuss contentious issues.
Stein came to the Maryland Humanities Council after eight years with the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC). There she was responsible for several major initiatives, including a highly successful effort to increase the national visibility of IHC. She also helped to create and promote a series of year-long public programs that stimulated and promoted informed dialogue and civic engagement in Illinois. Stein taught Writing, American Literature, and Women’s Literature at Loyola University of Chicago and DePaul University.
Stein earned her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Loyola University of Chicago. The author of numerous articles on modern American literature, most recently she published an article in PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association, on reading communities and Literature & Medicine, a MHC program created by the Maine Humanities Council and run nationwide. She lives in the Old Homeland neighborhood of Baltimore.
Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities
David has been executive director of the Massachusetts Foundation since 1985. He earned his MA and Ph.D. in philosophy at Rutgers University, and taught philosophy and applied ethics at Rutgers College, Cook College, and the University of Wyoming. Prior to returning to his home state in 1985, David was Executive director of the Wyoming Council for the Humanities. In that capacity, he served on a task force to assess the quality of humanities education in the state's public schools and authored its report, "Humanities Education in Wyoming's Public Schools." He is the editor of an anthology, Reflecting on Values: The Unity and Diversity of the Humanities and has published numerous essays and opinion pieces on the public humanities. David also has taught at Mount Holyoke College and at Amherst College.
Michigan Humanities Council
Erik Nordberg joined the Michigan Humanities Council as executive director on May 1, 2013. Prior to joining MHC, Nordberg served as the University Archivist and Head of Archives at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI. He has also served as an Assistant Librarian – Archives/Special Collections, for Indiana University in South Bend.
While at Michigan Tech, Nordberg built a comprehensive program for collecting, preserving and sharing the cultural history of Michigan’s “Copper Country,” a four-county area comprising the state’s historic copper mining district. Beginning with the department’s archival speakers series in 1995, he has been directly involved in a wide variety of public humanities programming, such as lectures series, tour programs, development of web content and publication programs.
In addition, Nordberg has designed and completed a variety of collections, digitization and exhibit projects, including the successful Keweenaw Digital Archives online image repository. He also completed a number of externally funded projects, including major grants from federal agencies and private funding to support institutional initiatives, such as conferences, exhibits, computer hardware, and a $1 million unrestricted planned gift.
Nordberg served on the MHC Board of Directors for eight years, ending his term in the executive role of board secretary/treasurer and chair of the finance committee in December 2011. Previous to his two year assignment, he served on the board’s executive committee and chaired the legislative and advocacy committee. Nordberg also served on grant review and program committees, assisted in board development and actively engaged in fundraising and development for the Council’s signature program, The Great Michigan Read.
Nordberg received his Bachelor of Arts in Combined Humanities from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He went on to earn his Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Dublin – Trinity College in the Republic of Ireland; and a Master of Science – Library Science degree and Graduate Certificate of Archival Administration from Wayne State University. He is currently working toward his doctorate in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology at Michigan Tech.
Minnesota Humanities Center
David O'Fallon became president of the Minnesota Humanities Center November 1, 2010. He has been active in music education in Minnesota as executive director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education and, since 2002, as CEO of the MacPhail Center for Music. He was director of arts education at the National Endowment for the Arts and staff director at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has extensive experience working with the Minnesota state legislature and with major fundraising.
Mississippi Humanities Council
Barbara Carpenter joined the staff of the Mississippi Humanities Council in 1986 and became Executive Director in 1996. She holds the PhD in modern literature from Tulane University, a master’s degree in American literature from the University of Georgia, where she studied as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a bachelor’s degree in English and history from Southeastern Louisiana University. A native of New Orleans, she taught English for 15 years at universities in Louisiana and Mississippi before coming to the MHC. Her special interests are oral history and cultural studies, and the second volume of the Ethnic Heritage in Mississippi series under her editorship will be published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2011. In 2008, Carpenter received the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Service (GIVE) Award from the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, and the University of Southern Mississippi recognized her in 2009 with an Innovation Research Supporter award. In May, 2010 she was featured in an exhibit, “A Portrait of Jackson Women: Twenty Women Who Changed History,” by photographers Leah Overstreet of New York and Karla Pound of Jackson.
Under Carpenter’s leadership, the council has supported a statewide oral history project since 1998, with funding from the Mississippi Legislature. The “Mississippi Moments” segment on public radio which comes from the oral history archives reaches 50,000 listeners each week. Luciérnagas, a dual language Spanish-English family reading program; FOOD—For Thought, for Life: The Aesthetics, Ethics, and Politics of Food; an online Mississippi Timeline; and collection of interviews about food and recipes related to ethnic groups for a proposed publication are all in the works. As of summer 2010, the council is developing a project to study the effects of the combined disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill on the culture, ecology, and other aspects of life in the state, with an eye to public policy, cultural preservation, and a variety of related issues.
Missouri Humanities Council
Geoff Giglierano became Executive Director of the Missouri Humanities Council in 2010. He comes to Missouri with more than 30 years of experience as a consultant and administrator, educator and historian at a variety of museums and non-profit organizations throughout the country. Giglierano plans to expand the impact of the Council and increase its relevance to Missouri residents and communities by supporting public conversations and programs that will promote a civil, literate and thoughtful society. Originally from Ohio, Giglierano’s career has taken him to various parts of the country. His most recent position was in Connecticut as the Director of Marketing and Development for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the largest Native American museum in the United States.
His career has included working as Development Director for the American Numismatic Society, Chief Curator of Military History for the New York State Department of Military and Naval Affairs, Director of the New York City Fire Museum, Director of Education and Deputy Director for Public Programs, Exhibits, and Publications at the Cincinnati History Museum at Museum Center, and Director of the Cincinnati Fire Museum. Giglierano was the Director at the New York City Fire Museum on 9/11, an event that showed the positive impact a museum can have on a community. “The museum became an important tool in the healing process, especially as it served as a location for a temporary memorial,” Giglierano said. “Everyone in New York at that time had something that they needed to share, and the museum served as one of the places where they could reflect, remember, and offer one another support.”
Before coming to Humanities Montana in February 2009, Ken Egan was a member of the Department of English at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where he began teaching in 2002. After receiving his B.A. at the University of Montana-Missoula and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he taught at Middlebury College in Vermont and Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, where he was faculty chair and divisional chair of Arts and Humanities. He served on the board of Humanities Montana during 1989-1993. Ken has received Fulbright grants to teach at the University of Athens and Comenius University in Slovakia. He has authored book-length critical studies of nineteenth-century American and Montana literature, including Hope and Dread in Montana Literature published by the University of Nevada Press in 2003. Ken was born in Polson, Montana and graduated from high school in Great Falls.
Chris Sommerich became executive director of Humanities Nebraska, formerly the Nebraska Humanities Council, in January 2011. He joined the Council staff in 2004 as director of development. Chris holds a B.A. and M.A. in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he served as undergraduate advisor for the department while a graduate assistant, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). He worked in development for the National Audubon Society's Nebraska state office for four years before coming to Humanities Nebraska.
Chris has taken a leadership role among professional fundraisers in Nebraska,serving on the board of directors for the Nebraska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and is currently its president. During his tenure, AFP-Nebraska hosted the regional Mid-America Conference on fundraising in Omaha. He served on the national planning committee for the National Humanities Conference in Omaha in 2009. Humanities Nebraska received the 2010 Nebraska Friend of Tourism Award for bringing the National Humanities Conference to Omaha.
Christina Barr became Executive Director of Nevada Humanities in January 2009. Previously she worked as a folklorist for the Western Folklife Center, the Nevada Arts Council, and the Vermont Folklife Center. She has a M.A. in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a B.A. in Slavic Cultural Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Barr has documented traditional art forms, communities, and cultural issues around North America and abroad, and has shared her work through presentations about folklife fieldwork, scholarship, and community based cultural work. She is a member of the Arts and Culture Advisory Board to the City of Elko, and is the founding president of the Salt Lake City based non-profit Culture Conservation Corps. In 2007 she received an Electronic Media Award for Best Documentary by Las Vegas Women in Communications for The 24 Hour Show radio series, which documents the lives and experiences of Las Vegas' casino and entertainment industry workers. An active participant in national and regional cultural organizations, she has served as a panelist and consultant for numerous organizations and agencies including the Idaho Commission on the Arts, Northwest Folklife, the Illinois Arts Council, the Western States Arts Federation, the American Folklore Society, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
New Hampshire Humanities Council
Deborah Watrous has been on the staff of the New Hampshire Humanities Council for 16 years, and has served as Executive Director since 2004. Watrous created the Humanities Council’s first statewide reading program, “What is NH Reading This Month?” and obtained an NEH Challenge Grant that formed the basis for the Council’s education endowment. She was responsible for developing the Council’s signature event, the Annual Dinner, which has featured such speakers as Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Salman Rushdie. She also organized the Council’s Chautauqua summer history festival for eight years. She currently serves on the Board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the national association that advocates for the state and territory humanities councils. She is a 2008 graduate and now a member of the board of Leadership New Hampshire, where she serves as chair of the Development Committee. Watrous earned her B.A. at Kirkland College in 1978 and her M.M in Vocal Performance from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music in 1981.
Interim Executive Director
New Jersey Council for the Humanities
Craig L. Newbill
New Mexico Humanities Council
Craig L. Newbill is a Southwest regionalist and oral historian whose research and writing are focused on American history and literature. Born on the Llano Estacado and raised in the Canadian and Pecos River Valleys, he is a life-long resident of New Mexico. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, where he has taught classes. His dissertation is entitled," Oral History Studies from Eastern New Mexico Homestead Areas: Life Along the Caprock from 1900 to 1941."
Newbill has been employed by the New Mexico Humanities Council (NMHC) for the past eighteen years and was named Executive Director in 1996.
Newbill is Chair of the New Mexico Centennial of Statehood Steering Committee to plan for the state’s centennial commemoration in 2012. He is committed to community life and dedicated to bringing the humanities to all New Mexicans to include all voices and perspectives in the public humanities.
New York Council for the Humanities
Sara Ogger was appointed Executive Director of the New York Council for the Humanities in March, 2007. She has served at the Council March, 2002, in the capacity of Grants Officer, Senior Program Officer, and, since 2006, as Associate Director. In those capacities, she directed the grants program, oversaw all Council-run programs, and was instrumental in the Council's efforts to secure state funding. From 1999 to 2001, she was a visiting professor of German at Montclair University in New Jersey, teaching language, literature, and humanities courses. She received her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University in 2000, where she also taught. She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, and was a guest student at the University of Tübingen, Germany, from 1988-98. In New York City, she is an Anchor Member of the Morgan Library and a member of the Advisory Board of 826 NYC, a writing center for Brooklyn children and youths. She and her husband, Jean-Gabriel Neukomm of SPaN Architects, are also contributors to Friends of the High Line, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, and the Public Theater.
North Carolina Humanities Council
Paula Watkins began as Executive Director of the North Carolina Humanities Council in July 2013. Prior to coming to the North Carolina Humanities Council, she served as Assistant Director and South Carolina Book Festival Director at The Humanities Council SC. Watkins is an experienced professional with an extensive background in administration and fundraising and a creative and inspirational communicator.
A Hartsville, SC native, Watkins joined the staff at The Humanities Council SC in October of 2001 in the role of Finance and Business Manager. Watkins was promoted to Assistant Director and SC Book Festival Director in 2005 and coordinated eight festivals, overseeing the addition of the Children's Fieldtrip Day, the Children's Pavilion, and the Literary Vine partnership with Richland Library. Under Watkins' leadership, the SC Book Festival attained new heights in attendance, fundraising, and cultural outreach. Watkins was recognized in 2011 with the Lucy Hampton Bostick Award from Richland Library for her efforts in advancing interest in books and libraries. During the 2013 SC Book Festival, Watkins was honored by the City of Columbia with the key to the city because of her service in the literary and cultural arts, and Saturday, May 18, 2013 was named Paula Watkins Day.
Watkins is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in biological sciences.
Brenna L. Gerhardt
North Dakota Humanities Council
Brenna L. Gerhardt became director of the North Dakota Humanities Council in June 2008. For the previous three years, she served as the Council’s program and resource coordinator. During her time at the Council, Brenna has been an active participant in the Council's long range strategic planning process and has overseen the implementation of the Council's new programming initiatives. A native of Center, North Dakota, Brenna received her B.A. from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Following graduation, she moved to Cambridge, MA to pursue a M.T.S. from Harvard University. In 2005, she moved back to North Dakota. According to Brenna, "When my husband and I made the decision to move back to the state, we were motivated by two factors: a strong sense of community and the possibility of professional advancement. Simply put, we wanted to live in a place were people were actively engaged in their communities and where there were resources to create new opportunities for ourselves. We have never regretted our decision."
Northern Marianas Humanities Council
Scott Russell, executive director as of January 2010, joined the staff of the Northern Mariana Humanities Council in December 2001 as the program officer. He was promoted to Assistant Executive Director/Program Officer in December 2004. Russell received a B.S. in political science and history from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas. Prior to joining the Council, Russell spent 24 years in the field of historic and cultural preservation, first as Director of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Office of Historic Preservation (1977-82), and then as Deputy Director and staff historian for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Historic Preservation (1982-2001). He has written widely on the history and historic resources of the Northern Mariana Islands including Tiempon I Man'mofona, a comprehensive overview of the archipelago's ancient culture and early colonial history. Russell currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture and on the editorial board of the Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the region's first online humanities journal.
Patricia N. Williamsen
Ohio Humanities Council
Ms. Williamsen holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Toledo and an M.A. in Film History and Theory from The Ohio State University. She began her career in nonprofit administration with the Ohio Humanities Council in 1984 as the half-time coordinator of OHC’s first Council-conducted project. From 1985 until 1993, she served as the Council’s Assistant Director for Development and Public Relations. She has held a variety of administrative positions, including Executive Director of Community21, Columbus’ public access television station.
She returned to the Council in 2002 as its Director of Development and was promoted to lead the agency in 2011. In addition to fund-raising activities, Ms. Williamsen has advanced the Council’s mission by developing strategic partnerships for Council-conducted projects on civic reflection, heritage tourism, and history. Most recently, she directed “Images of the Great Depression: The New Deal in Ohio.”
An active photographer and writer, her work has been published in numerous journals and magazines; current projects include documenting street performers throughout the United States.
Oklahoma Humanities Council
Ann Thompson became Executive Director of the Oklahoma Humanities Council in February of 2006. Prior to coming to OHC, Thompson served as Director of the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan. She holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in American history from the University of Illinois. Ann’s background includes over 10 years’ education experience as a secondary school teacher in Bismarck, North Dakota, and as the Curator of Education at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Additionally, Thompson served as the Executive Director of the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center in Pueblo, Colorado, and as the archivist for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C.
Adam joined Oregon Humanities in August 2013 as the organization’s fifth executive director. He previously served as director of the Center for Civic Reflection and prior to that was the organization’s director of training and publications. He is the cofounder, former director, and former board chair of Camp of Dreams, a nonprofit organization providing year-round programming for underserved young people in Chicago, and the editor of Taking Action (2012) and Hearing the Call across Traditions (2009), and coeditor of Talking Service (2008) and The Civically Engaged Reader (2006). He was a longtime philosophy and literature instructor in The Odyssey Project, a college-level humanities program for low-income adults and a past leader of wilderness trail crews for the US Forest Service. Adam received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2003.
Pennsylvania Humanities Council
Laurie Zierer began as the new executive director of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council in November of 2012. Laurie is a champion for the humanities in Pennsylvania. She is a leader in designing, funding, and marketing humanities programming. She passionately believes in the power of the humanities to open minds, and inspire cultural dialogue that brings people together to build a better future for generations to come. With 17 years PHC tenure, Laurie joined the organization as a program officer and quickly moved up the ranks. Prior to accepting her new position, Laurie served as interim director. Her previous positions also include senior program officer and assistant director. Laurie has produced the Telly Award-winning television show Humanities on the Road with PCN-TV (the state’s version of C-SPAN) and Humanities Live with WHYY-TV (Southeastern Pennsylvania’s PBS affiliate). Other special projects have included a collaborative grant partnership with Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, library book programs for adults and teens, lectures with Pulitzer Prize-winning authors like Frank McCourt, museum interpretation projects like Raising Our Sites: Community Histories of Pennsylvania, and Storyline, a call-in radio program on women’s literature.
Laurie holds a B.A. in English from Temple University and an M.A. in Rhetoric from Penn State. She also taught English at Haddonfield Memorial High School in New Jersey. She is a graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College and holds certificates in Fund Raising and Executive Administration from University of Pennsylvania’s College of General Studies. She also serves on the Board of Directors of New Century Trust, a Philadelphia based organization founded in 1882, with a mission to improve the economic and social status of women and girls.
Juan M. González Lamela
Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades
Juan M. González Lamela has been executive director of the Puerto Rico Foundation for the Humanities since 1990. He holds an Ed.D. from Nova University and an M.P.A. from the School of Public Administration, University of Puerto Rico. He has been vice president of institutional advancement, Fundación Educativa Ana G. Mendez; aide to the Governor of Puerto Rico in the areas of education and culture; and chancellor of Turabo University. He has served on boards of directors, councils, and committees related to education, culture, and civics.
Rhode Island Council for the Humanities
Elizabeth Francis became Executive Director at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities in January 2013. Francis comes to RICH with a background in fundraising as well as in education and history. As a director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Brown University, Francis connected university thought leaders with institutional partners to support people and projects, many of which have contributed to the vitality of Rhode Island.
Francis studied women’s history and cultural history at Brown, earning her doctorate in American Studies in 1994. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Francis taught at Brown and the University of Rhode Island for several years, has been a member of the board of the International Charter School in Pawtucket, RI, and chaired the Grants Committee as a member of the board at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
Randy L. Akers
Humanities Council of South Carolina
Randy Akers has been Executive Director of the South Carolina Humanities Council for over two decades. A graduate of Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University, he received a Ph.D. in religious studies. He has participated in archaeological digs in Israel (Roman period) since 1974. He is an instructor at the University of South Carolina. During his tenure, the Council has established a statewide humanities festival, an annual book festival and has launched the South Carolina encyclopedia project.
South Dakota Humanities Council
Sherry DeBoer was appointed Executive Director of the South Dakota Humanities Council on June 1, 2007. DeBoer has worked at the Council since 1987, serving in a variety of capacities. Her most previous position was as Director of the South Dakota Center for the Book program and Deputy Director of the Council. In that position, she has coordinated the South Dakota Festival of Books, The Big Read and the One Book South Dakota program.
Tim Henderson was named Executive Director by the Board of Directors of Humanities Tennessee following outgoing President Robert Cheatham’s retirement at the end of 2012. Henderson has been with Humanities Tennessee since 1998, serving most recently as the Director of Operations.
Henderson earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and masters’ degrees in English and information science from Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville respectively.
Texas Council for the Humanities
Michael L. Gillette became Executive Director of Humanities Texas (formerly the Texas Council for the Humanities) in June 2003. Prior to his appointment, he held the position of Director of the Center for Legislative Archives, with responsibility for the official records of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. In addition to the Archives position, which he held since 1991, Gillette also served as liaison to the Foundation for the National Archives from its creation in 1992 until 1997. He received a B.A. in government and a Ph.D. in history from The University of Texas at Austin. After joining the staff of the LBJ Library in 1972, he directed the Library's Oral History Program from 1976 to 1991. He also directed the Presidential Election Research Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs from 1988 to 1991. He was a member of the board of directors of the Everett Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center from 1993 until 1999. He has also served on the advisory board of the Law Library of Congress's National Digital Library Program and the board of directors of the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at Ohio State University. Gillette is the author of Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History (Twayne Publishers, 1996) and editor of Texas in Transition (LBJ School of Public Affairs, 1986), and Financing Presidential Campaigns: 1982 to 1988 (LBJ School of Public Affairs, 1991). He has also published numerous articles on politics and civil rights and has been an active member of the oral history profession.
Utah Humanities Council
Appointed Executive Director of the Utah Humanities Council in 1997, Cynthia Buckingham first joined the staff in 1983 as Associate Director. She came to Utah from Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she was Assistant Director of Government and Public Affairs with the Federation of State Humanities Councils. She has a BA in English and French from Macalester College, and did her graduate work in the University of Minnesota's interdisciplinary American Studies program. In 1988-1989, she was Administrative Director of the fledgling University of Utah Humanities Center, while on leave from UHC. She is a member of the Alliance for Unity, a group of leaders in Utah business, education, religious, political, and philanthropic sectors that promotes civility and civic engagement in order to bridge divides. She was a founding board member and past president of the Utah Cultural Alliance, whose mission is to promote the visibility and viability of Utah's cultural community, and has served as chair of the Utah Nonprofits Association and vice chair of the Federation of State Humanities Council.
Peter A. Gilbert
Vermont Humanities Council
Peter Gilbert became Executive Director of the Vermont Humanities Council in March 2002. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and an MA in English from the University of Virginia. He worked for ten years at Dartmouth College as Senior Assistant to the President, James O. Freedman, and Associate Provost. He taught English and American History at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts for eleven years and was a litigator at Hale and Dorr in Boston. A frequent commentator on Vermont Public Radio, he has been the executor for Robert Frost’s estate since 1991.
Virgin Islands Humanities Council
Robert C. Vaughan
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy
Rob Vaughan is President of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, President of the National Humanities Alliance, and past Chairman of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. He also directs the South Atlantic Humanities Center and teaches at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School. Among his publications is The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom: Its Evolution and Consequences in American History (Cambridge) and a forthcoming volume on the South in the American Regional Cultures series (Greenwood). Dr. Vaughan received his BA from Washington and Lee University and his MA and PhD in English from the University of Virginia. He currently serves on the Boards of the Ash Lawn Opera Festival of which he is President, Virginia's Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, and Shenandoah Shakespeare and has served as a judge for the John Dos Passos Prize in American Literature, the Outstanding Faculty Awards in Virginia, and the Carnegie Foundation/CASE Professors of the Year Awards. His special interests are poetry and music and his children with whom he enjoys water sports and travel.
Julie Ziegler became executive director of Humanities Washington in June 2009, having served as the interim director since January 2009. An eight-year trustee of Humanities Washington (1998-2004 and 2006-present), Ziegler held a variety of board leadership positions, including chair of the Grants, Development, and Finance Committees in addition to several years on the Executive Committee. Ziegler previously held positions with several national companies, primarily in philanthropy, community outreach, and marketing. While at Safeco Insurance she managed the national grants program and several grassroots outreach programs. Prior to that, she worked as Northwest Regional Manager of the Bank of America Foundation. In a volunteer capacity she has worked on behalf of a variety of non-profit organizations such as ArtsFund, Philanthropy Northwest, United Way of King County, Leadership Tomorrow and Powerful Schools.
West Virginia Humanities Council
Ken Sullivan has been Executive Director of the West Virginia Humanities Council since February 1997. A native of Virginia, he came to West Virginia in 1976 as an instructor of Appalachian history at the Southern Appalachian Center of Antioch University in Beckley. From 1979 to 1997 he edited Goldenseal, West Virginia's popular folklife magazine. He is a historian, specializing in the history and culture of Appalachia. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, an MA from the University of Rochester and a BA from the University of Virginia, all in American History. He is a member of the board of directors and treasurer of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.
Wisconsin Humanities Council
Dena Wortzel first came to the Wisconsin Humanities Council in 1994. Since that time she has worked with community organizations and humanities scholars to design public humanities programs that speak to the interests of Wisconsinites in all parts of the state, in communities of all sizes. Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Dena lived in Boston and overseas, supporting the community development efforts of rural groups in Third World nations and educating Americans about issues of world hunger and poverty. For many years she has made her home on a former dairy farm in southwest Wisconsin where she rides horses, tends a prairie, and wages war on more invasive species than she cares to name.
Wyoming Council for the Humanities
Shannon Smith joined the Wyoming Humanities Council as its new executive director in August 2013. Smith comes to the council after six years at EDUCAUSE, a non-profit focusing on advancing higher education through the use of information technology. She’s served on the Board of a non-profit that promotes the legacy of western historian Mari Sandoz and sat on the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. Smith also taught at Oglala Lakota College and is author of Give me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight, which won the 2009 Non-fiction Book Award from the Wyoming State Historical Society.