Kathryn Matthew

National Council on the Humanities

Kathryn Matthew

Term Dates



Kathryn Kahrs Matthew, Ph.D., MBA, has led mission-driven organizations to achieve greater impact and effectiveness in partnership with their audiences, supporters and customers. She continues to explore how local assets—people and places, residents’ knowledge, collective narratives, and iconic objects and sites—can weave together to strengthen communities.

Matthew has held positions crossing executive leadership, fundraising, and program development at a wide range of organizations such as AEA Consulting, the Appalachia Funders Network, St. David’s Foundation, Historic Charleston Foundation, and New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. In these and other roles, she has applied innovation management approaches based on her new product development experience in nonprofit software and consumer products.

Appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2015, she served as the executive-level agency head of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a peer agency to NEH. In that role she blended grantmaking, capacity-building, mixed-methods evaluation, shared learning, and policy development to strengthen communities nationwide. During her tenure within two presidential administrations, she prioritized investments in cultural stewardship, lifelong learning, digital literacy, civic cohesion, health and wellness, and workforce development. 

Matthew’s recent book Fundraising for Impact in Libraries, Archives, and Museums: Making the Case to Government, Foundation, Corporate and Individual Funders speaks to the importance of funders and cultural organizations aligning in their collective work toward community wellbeing.