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Federal/State Partnership staff bios: Kathleen Mitchell, Senior Program Officer

October 8, 2014 | By Federal/State Partnership Staff

Kathleen Mitchell
Senior Program Officer, Federal/State Partnership

Kathleen has worked in Federal/State Partnership since 2001 and her travels and her work have taken her to all 56 states and jurisdictions. She has led site teams to 47 state humanities councils in all parts of the country and to all six jurisdictions/territories, visiting 16 councils more than once. Her portfolio includes organizational governance and the nonprofit sector, communication about councils’ work, and working directly with state humanities councils through the self-assessment and review process. She does web development and electronic communications for Federal/State Partnership, editing the monthly e-newsletter.

Kathleen came to the National Endowment for the Humanities from Purdue University in 1985 thanks to the Inter-Agency Personnel Act, working in the then Division of Fellowships and Seminars, and permanently joined the NEH staff in 1986. Since then, she has been part of the organizational evolution of NEH. She reinvigorated the Travel to Collections Program and developed the Dissertation Grants Program. Kathleen moved to the then Division of State Programs in 1995, and in 1996, became a founding member of the Enterprise Office where she collaborated with, among other cultural organizations, the South Dakota Humanities Council, Humanities Oregon, and the multi-council social entrepreneurship earned income project. The tourist map of the cultural life in Washington’s neighborhoods, “Washington, D.C., Beyond the Monuments,” was created under Kathleen’s leadership by an NEH partnership with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and Cultural Tourism DC. The map was prominently displayed in the Metro System. Kathleen initiated an exhibition program featuring NEH grant products in the public hallways of NEH’s former home, the historic Old Post Office, which, at that time was one of the most visited buildings in Washington, hosting more than 8 million visitors a year. She created and curated an exhibition for the Old Post Office, “Hail to the Chief: Presidents, Power & Politics,” where it provided a backdrop in 1997 for one of President Clinton’s inaugural balls. Multiple copies subsequently toured the country. As a result of “Hail to the Chief,” she negotiated and curated permanent installations about Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on the Presidential Trail at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. NEH’s partners in this project were the South Dakota Humanities Council and the National Park Service. She worked with the General Services Administration to allow resident agencies to hang artwork and other materials in their own Old Post Office hallways.

A 2001 graduate of Leadership Greater Washington, Kathleen served from 2002-2012 as a member of the board and president of the musical theatre company, the Washington Savoyards. She holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Michigan State University and taught history on the undergraduate and graduate levels at Pacific Union College and Purdue University. Publications include The World of Gregory of Tours (co-editor, 2002); an article about the Merovingian king Clovis I for the online Encyclopædia Britannica (2001); and “Working Together” which details the community enrichment work of state humanities councils, especially around the 9/11 tragedy (Humanities, July-August 2002). Her article, “The Academic as Public Historian,” which appears in Medieval Monks and Their World, Ideas and Realities: Studies in Honor of Richard Sullivan (2006), examines the role of her major professor and mentor, Richard Sullivan, in the founding of the Michigan Humanities Council. It is available in the Federal/State Partnership Resource Library on the NEH website. Kathleen is a frequent a judge for National History Day.