A stack of books and binders is shown behind a purple banner with the text

Leadership and Administration for History Organizations

An AASLH Small Museum Pro! Online Course

Course Description

History museum leadership is more complex and demanding than ever before, requiring updated and innovative ways to meet mission and keep organizations healthy. Thoughtful, intentional museum administration and leadership matters, regardless of the size or focus of your organization.

During the eight weeks of this course, modules addressing governance and administrative structures, nonprofit status and the public trust, mission and vision, the relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities; strategic planning, human resource development and management, and leadership will be covered.

The course is divided into eight weekly segments and includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

  • Week 1: Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust and governance
  • Week 2: Museum Boards, Their Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations, and Their Relationship to Museum Staff
  • Week 3: The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission
  • Week 4:  Administrative and Management Responsibilities, Relationships, Structures, Systems and Networks
  • Week 5:  Human Resource Management – Building Effective Teams and Mentoring
  • Week 6:  Why Leadership Matters, At All Levels
  • Week 7:  Charting Your Museum’s Future and Measuring Effectiveness
  • Week 8:  Putting It All Together: Where the Field is Heading and How You Fit In

Details

COURSE DATES: March 2 - April 26, 2020

COST: $195 AASLH Members / $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: November 1, 2019 - February 23, 2020; 20 participant limit

REGISTER HERE

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, instructor-led, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly one-hour online chats (schedule to be determined based on student availability); weekly assignments; final course assignment. Students should expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on the course.

MATERIALS: Two required texts: Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord, Second Edition, Anne W. Ackerson and Joan H. Baldwin, 2019 and Museum Administration 2.0, Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Irleland, Revised by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, 2016. (Texts are NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice.)

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course (80% or higher) will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Participant Outcomes

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of Leadership and Administration including the following:

  • the public trust role and governance structure of most nonprofit museums;
  • the importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning;
  • the major administrative and leadership roles and responsibilities of the board and staff;
  • the key issues in human resource management, including building effective teams
  • why leadership matters at all levels;
  • charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Who Should Take This Course

Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at the staff, board, and volunteer levels (where volunteers supervise others), who have significant decision-making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations.  This course is not appropriate for students, interns, or volunteers who do not have managerial responsibilities. We recommend that only one person per institution take this course at a time. To read about a participant’s experience, take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Instructor

In a career spanning three decades, Anne Ackerson has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and now currently serves as the executive director of the National Council of State Archivists.

In 1997 Anne began an independent consulting practice focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution. She writes regularly about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design. She is a frequent workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities. In addition to teaching this course, she developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.


Sandra Sageser Clark and John and Anita Durel to Receive Award of Distinction

NASHVILLE, TN—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that Sandra Sageser Clark and John and Anita Durel will receive the Award of Distinction on August 30 at the association’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA.

Sandra Sageser Clark is the Director of the Michigan History Center, a position she has held for the past twenty-eight years. She believes that history is important and wants all citizens to experience the thrill of discovery, the intrigue, and the understanding it brings to its students. In addition, Clark tirelessly advocated for reauthorization of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and led the way in the push for AASLH to assert the need for formula funding for museums.

John and Anita Durel founded Durel Consulting Partners in 1997. They have served the museum community with professionalism, integrity, and an unbridled passion for building great organizations and helping those in the field become great leaders.

The Leadership in History Awards program was initiated in 1945 to build standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history. The Award of Distinction is given infrequently in recognition of long and distinguished service and contributions on the part of a person working in state and local history who is recognized nationally as a leader in the profession. An individual must have demonstrated the highest standards of performance and professional ethics.

“All of us across the history community look up to colleagues who have advanced the field,” said John Dichtl, AASLH President and CEO. “This year’s Award of Distinction recipients—Sandra Clark and John and Anita Durel—continue to have that kind of impact and also have been extremely generous in sharing their wisdom, creativity, and clarity. It is a pleasure to see each of them receiving AASLH’s highest honor for their remarkable careers.”

Sandra Clark received her B.A. and M.A. in history from Michigan State University. She began her history career teaching Canadian and American history at Plattsburg State University College of New York and Michigan State.  She interrupted her work on her Ph.D. dissertation in the history of Canadian-American relations to become an editor and speechwriter for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1975. Sandra returned to Michigan as editor of Michigan History Magazine in 1979. She was deputy director of Travel Michigan for three years before she became director of the Michigan History Center in September 1991. Her professional service has included the AASLH board, the Michigan Museums Association board, the Association of Midwest Museums board, and the Automobile National Heritage Area board. She was the 2009 recipient of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network Leadership Award and the 2017 recipient of the President’s Award from the Michigan Museums Association. Currently she is a member of the Fishtown Preservation Society Board of Directors and the Land Information Access Association Board of Directors.

John Durel’s work in museums included time as the Director of Education and Assistant Director at Strawbery Banke Museum, as Assistant Director at the B&O Railroad Museum, and as Assistant Director and Director at the Baltimore City of Life Museums. Concurrently, Anita Durel built a career in fundraising and development, including leadership positions at institutions including Johns Hopkins University and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Since forming Durel Consulting Partners, they have assisted numerous museums and CEOs of history organizations, made presentations, and published articles to inform the museum community. They also taught museum studies at Goucher College and Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, John served as the Executive Director of the Seminar for Historical Administration, now the AASLH History Leadership Institute, and both were founding leaders in the History Relevance Campaign.

The 2019 awards will be presented at a special banquet at the Philadelphia 201 Hotel on Friday, August 30, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., as part of the AASLH Annual Meeting. A full listing of award recipients can be found at: https://aaslh.org/aaslh-announces-2019-leadership-in-history-award-winners/. For more information, contact Bethany Hawkins at [email protected].


Learn more about #AASLH2019 and the Leadership in History Awards.


AASLH Announces Election Slate for Council and Leadership Nominating Committee

We are proud to announce the slate of candidates for four spots on the AASLH Council and three spots on our Leadership Nominating Committee.  The Council sets policy and provides leadership for the Association, is responsible for strategic planning, and represents AASLH members and the field at large. The Leadership Nominating Committee works with staff and the AASLH Council to identify AASLH’s and the field’s leadership and points direction for a slate of officers, Council members, and LNC members.

The election will open June 1 and close on July 1, and members will receive notice of how and when to vote by email.

Council Candidates  (4 open seats)

  • Ashley Bouknight, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage, Nashville, TN
  • Trevor Jones, History Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • Jennifer Kilmer, Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, WA
  • Jennifer Ortiz, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Salt Lake City, UT

 

Leadership Nominating Committee Candidates (3 open seats)

  • Kwasi Agyemang, Ohio History Connection, Columbus, OH
  • Michelle Banks, The African American Firefighter Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  • Joy Holland, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Tramia Jackson, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
  • Sue Taylor, New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, NM
  • Tomaro Taylor, University of South Florida Libraries, Tampa, FL

A stack of books and binders is shown behind a purple banner with the text

Online Course: Leadership and Administration for History Organizations

History museum leadership is more complex and demanding than ever before, requiring updated and innovative ways to meet mission and keep organizations healthy. Thoughtful, intentional museum administration and leadership matters, regardless of the size or focus of your organization.

Administration and leadership matter, regardless the size or focus of your organization. This online course covers governance and administrative structure, nonprofit status, mission and vision, board and staff responsibilities, the relationship between board and staff, strategic planning, human resource management, and leadership.

Details

DATES: February 4 - March 29, 2019

COST: $195 AASLH Members/ $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: December 7, 2018 - January 28, 2019; 20 Person Limit

REGISTER HERE

Logistics:

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly real-time telephone and online chats (schedule to be determined based on student availability); weekly assignments; final course assignment

MATERIALS: Two recommended texts

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Description & Outcomes:

During the eight weeks of this course, modules addressing governance and administrative structures, nonprofit status and the public trust, mission and vision, the relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities; strategic planning, human resource development and management, and leadership will be covered. The course includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

Participant Outcomes

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of Leadership and Administration including the following:

  • the public trust role and governance structure of most nonprofit museums;
  • the importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning;
  • the major administrative and leadership roles and responsibilities of the board and staff;
  • the key issues in human resource management, including building effective teams
  • why leadership matters at all levels;
  • charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Sample Curriculum

  • Week 1: Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust and governance
  • Week 2: Museum Boards, Their Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations, and Their Relationship to Museum Staff
  • Week 3: The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission
  • Week 4:  Administrative and Management Responsibilities, Relationships, Structures, Systems and Networks
  • Week 5:  Human Resource Management – Building Effective Teams and Mentoring
  • Week 6:  Why Leadership Matters, At All Levels
  • Week 7:  Charting Your Museum’s Future and Measuring Effectiveness
  • Week 8:  Putting It All Together: Where the Field is Heading and How You Fit In

Texts Used (sold separately)

Recommended Texts:

Anne W. Ackerson and Joan Baldwin, Leadership Matters, https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780759121850/Leadership-Matters

Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland (revised by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko), Museum Administration 2.0, https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442255524/Museum-Administration-2.0

Who Should Attend:

Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at the staff, board, and volunteer levels (where volunteers supervise others), who have significant decision-making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations.  This course is not appropriate for students, interns, or volunteers who do not have managerial responsibilities. We recommend that only one person per institution take this course at a time. To read about a participant’s experience, take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Instructor

In a career spanning three decades, Anne Ackerson has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and now currently serves as the executive director of the National Council of State Archivists.

In 1997 Anne began an independent consulting practice focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution. She writes regularly about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design. She is a frequent workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities. In addition to teaching this course, she developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.


AASLH Announces the HLI Class of 2018

By Max van Balgooy, HLI Director

AASLH welcomes the Class of 2018 to the History Leadership Institute (HLI) next week in Indianapolis. HLI is a three-week residential program for mid-career history professionals working in museums, historical societies, historic sites, archives, and similar organizations who wish to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the field, such as decolonization, sensitive topics, public tragedies, and sustainability, through cutting-edge techniques, including alignment, systems thinking, and adaptive leadership.

This year's Associates are:

  • Stephanie Boyle, Dumbarton House (Washington, DC)
  • Cathy A. Burton, Great American Songbook Foundation (Carmel, IN)
  • Christina M. Claassen, Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, WA)
  • Elaine Heavey, Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, MA)
  • Guinn Hinman, State Historical Society of North Dakota (Bismarck, ND)
  • Nicholas J. Hoffman, Missouri Historical Society (St. Louis, MO)
  • Kimberly F. Kelderhouse, Leelanau Historical Society (Traverse City, MI)
  • Heidi Kloempken, Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, MN)
  • Jennifer McElroy, Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, MN)
  • Patrick McGuire, Elkhart County Historical Museum (Mishawaka, IN)
  • Sarah E. Morin, Conner Prairie (Fishers, IN)
  • Trisha Nelson, History Nebraska (Lincoln, NE)
  • Casey Pfeiffer, Indiana Historical Bureau (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Jonathan Sebastian, Fischer Farm/Bensenville Park District (Bensenville, IL)
  • Daniel Shockley, Indiana Historical Society (Indianapolis, IN)
  • MaryMikel Stump, Washington State Historical Society (Tacoma, WA)
  • JaMarcus Underwood, Jack Hadley Black History Museum (Thomasville, GA)
  • Jennifer Van Haaften, Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison, WI)
  • Jessica R. VanLanduyt, Atlanta History Center (Atlanta, GA)

AASLH awarded the Denny O'Toole Scholarship to JaMarcus Underwood of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum and a Diversity Scholarship to Christina Claassen of the Whatcom Museum.

HLI graduates have been shaping the field since 1959, when Edward Alexander of Colonial Williamsburg established the program as the Seminar for Historical Administrators. It is now the foremost mid-career training program for history professionals in the United States and supported by some of the nation's leading history organizations: Conner Prairie, History Nebraska, Indiana Historical Society, Missouri Historical Society, National Association for Interpretation, Georgia Historical Society, Massachusetts Historical Society, and Minnesota Historical Society. Graduates work in executive positions in a wide variety of organizations such as the Abbe Museum, Brucemore, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Strawbery Banke, President Lincoln's Cottage, Senator John Heinz History Center, Preservation Society of Newport County, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. To apply for the Class of 2019 or for more information, visit HistoryLeadership.org.


AASLH Welcomes New Council Officers and Members

NASHVILLE, TN— The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) welcomed the following history professionals to the AASLH Council and the Leadership Nominating Committee on September 28 at its Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Council sets policy and provides leadership, is responsible for strategic planning, and represents AASLH members and the field at large.  The Leadership Nominating Committee works with staff and the AASLH Council to identify AASLH's and the field's leadership and points direction for a slate of offices, Council members, and LNC members. New committee members began their terms at the 2018 Meeting of the Membership in Kansas City.

New Council Officers are:

  • Chair: John Fleming, Director, National Museum of African American Music, Nashville, TN
  • Vice Chair: Norman Burns, President and CEO, Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN
  • Treasurer: Brent Ott, Vice-President of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI
  • Secretary: Dina Bailey, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Atlanta, GA

New Council Members are:

  • Christy Coleman, CEO, American Civil War Museum, Richmond, VA
  • Jeff Matsuoka, Vice President, Business and Operations, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
  • Alexandra Rasic, Director of Public Programs, Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, CA
  • Dennis Vasquez, Superintendent, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NM
  • Steve Murray, Director, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, AL

New Leadership Nominating Committee Members are:

  • Helen Wong Smith, Librarian/Archivist of State Historical Preservation Division and Executive Director of Kaua'i Historical Society, Lihu'e, HI
  • Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, NY

AASLH President and CEO John Dichtl says, "Bringing on this new class of leaders for AASLH and the field at this moment in the associations history is truly exciting.  Each brings a depth and breadth of experience that we will be relying on to advance relevant and inclusive history across the country."

AASLH is governed by a twenty-one-member council, elected by the membership for the Association. The Council is comprised of leaders in the field of public history, with wide-ranging specialties.  Council members serve four years.

The American Association for State and Local History provides leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. Based in Nashville, the organization provides services and assistance to over 5,500 institutional and individual members, as well as leadership for history organizations nationally. It is the only comprehensive national organization dedicated to state and local history. For more information, please visit www.aaslh.org.


A stack of books and binders is shown behind a purple banner with the text

Online Course: Leadership and Administration in History Organizations

History museum leadership is more complex and demanding than ever before, requiring updated and innovative ways to meet mission and keep organizations healthy. Thoughtful, intentional museum administration and leadership matters, regardless of the size or focus of your organization.

Administration and leadership matter, regardless the size or focus of your organization. This online course covers governance and administrative structure, nonprofit status, mission and vision, board and staff responsibilities, the relationship between board and staff, strategic planning, human resource management, and leadership.

Details:

DATES: September 17 – November 12, 2018

COST: $195 AASLH Members/ $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: August 8 – September 14, 2018; 20 Person Limit

Register Here

Logistics:

FORMAT: Online, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Weekly real-time telephone and online chats (schedule to be determined based on student availability); weekly assignments; final course assignment

MATERIALS: Two recommended texts (See below)

CREDIT: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro!certificate from AASLH.

Description & Outcomes:

During the nine weeks of this course, modules addressing governance and administrative structures, nonprofit status and the public trust, mission and vision, the relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities; strategic planning, human resource development and management, and leadership will be covered. The course includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

Participant Outcomes

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of Leadership and Administration including the following:

  • the public trust role and governance structure of most nonprofit museums;
  • the importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning;
  • the major administrative and leadership roles and responsibilities of the board and staff;
  • the key issues in human resource management, including building effective teams
  • why leadership matters at all levels;
  • charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Sample Curriculum

  • Week 1: Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust and governance
  • Week 2: Museum Boards, Their Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations, and Their Relationship to Museum Staff
  • Week 3: The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission
  • Week 4:  Administrative and Management Responsibilities, Relationships, Structures, Systems and Networks
  • Week 5:  Human Resource Management – Building Effective Teams and Mentoring
  • Week 6:  Why Leadership Matters, At All Levels
  • Week 7:  Charting Your Museum’s Future and Measuring Effectiveness
  • Week 8:  Putting It All Together: Where the Field is Heading and How You Fit In

Texts Used (sold separately)

Recommended Texts:

Anne W. Ackerson and Joan Baldwin, Leadership Matters, https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780759121850/Leadership-Matters

Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland (revised by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko), Museum Administration 2.0, https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781442255524/Museum-Administration-2.0

Who Should Attend:

Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at the staff, board, and volunteer levels (where volunteers supervise others), who have significant decision- making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations.  This course is not appropriate for students, interns, or volunteers who do not have managerial responsibilities. We recommend that only one person per institution take this course at a time. To read about a participant’s experience, take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Register Here

Instructor

In a career spanning three decades, Anne Ackerson has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and now currently serves as the executive director of the National Council of State Archivists.

In 1997 Anne began an independent consulting practice focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution. She writes regularly about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design. She is a frequent workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities. In addition to teaching this course, she developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.


AASLH Announces Election Results

We are proud to announce the election results for four open spots on the AASLH Council, three Council officers, and two spots on our Leadership Nominating Committee.  The Council sets policy and provides leadership for the Association, is responsible for strategic planning, and represents AASLH members and the field at large. The Leadership Nominating Committee works with staff and the AASLH Council to identify AASLH’s and the field’s leadership and points direction for a slate of officers, Council members, and LNC members. New committee members will begin their terms at the 2018 Meeting of the Membership in Kansas City, and we look forward to welcoming them!

Council Officers

Vice Chair

  • Norman Burns, President and CEO, Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN

Treasurer

  • Brent Ott, Vice-President of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI

Secretary

  • Dina Bailey, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Atlanta, GA

New Council Members 

  • Christy Coleman, CEO, American Civil War Museum, Richmond, VA
  • Jeff Matsuoka, Vice President, Business and Operations, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
  • Alexandra Rasic, Director of Public Programs, Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, CA
  • Dennis Vásquez, Superintendent, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NM

New Leadership Nominating Committee Members

  • Helen Wong Smith, Librarian/Archivist of State Historic Preservation Division and Executive Director of the Kaua’i Historical Society, Lihu’e, HI
  • Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, NY

AASLH Announces Election Slate for Council and Leadership Nominating Committee

We are proud to announce the slate of candidates for four open spots on the AASLH Council, three Council officers, and two spots on our Leadership Nominating Committee.  The Council sets policy and provides leadership for the Association, is responsible for strategic planning, and represents AASLH members and the field at large. The Leadership Nominating Committee works with staff and the AASLH Council to identify AASLH’s and the field’s leadership and points direction for a slate of officers, Council members, and LNC members.

The election will open June 1 and close on July 1, and members will receive notice of how and when to vote by email.

Council Officers

Vice Chair

  • Norman Burns, President and CEO, Conner Prairie, Fishers, IN

Treasurer

  • Brent Ott, Vice-President of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, MI

Secretary

  • Dina Bailey, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, New York, NY

 

Council Candidates  (4 open seats)

  • Christy Coleman, CEO, American Civil War Museum, Richmond, VA
  • Jeff Matsuoka, Vice President, Business and Operations, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN
  • Alexandra Rasic, Director of Public Programs, Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, CA
  • Dennis Vásquez, Superintendent, Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, NM

 

Leadership Nominating Committee Candidates (2 open seats)

  • Anne Ackerson, Independent Museum Consultant, Troy, NY
  • Kaia Landon, Executive Director, Brigham City Museum, Brigham City, UT
  • Helen Wong Smith, Librarian/Archivist of State Historic Preservation Division and Executive Director of the Kaua'i Historical Society, Lihu'e, HI
  • Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, NY

Women Who Mentor: Mindy Porter, Director of Education, Scott Family Amazeum

The Scott Family Amazeum.

One of the founding objectives of the Women’s History Affinity Group at AASLH is to “[foster] mentoring, professional development, and strongly encourage young women to strive for leadership positions within their professional organizations. The “Women Who Mentor” blog series asks successful women from across the field to share their experiences and advice with women, as well as men, who are striving to advance in their careers.

Mindy Porter is the Director of Education at the Scott Family Amazeum, a hands-on, interactive museum for children and families in Bentonville, AR.

How did you arrive at your present job position?

Mindy Porter. Photo courtesy of the Scott Family Amazeum.

I stumbled into the interactive museum career field when I was graduating from college. I didn’t have a museum career path as my plan for ‘what I would do when I grow up,’ and in fact I didn’t even know it was a career option for me. I have always been fascinated by science and I enjoy messing around with interesting phenomenon in order to understand how it works. I suppose this is what led me to getting a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. I have also always been drawn to working with children and sharing my passion for science with them. It wasn’t until the science museum I was volunteering with had a job opening that I connected the dots of a possible career. I was offered the position of Outreach Coordinator which was my gateway into an amazing career field that celebrates exploring science in a fun, engaging manner. I was hooked. After 15 years in the museum field, working at two museums, and starting countless programs, I am currently the Director of Education at the Scott Family Amazeum.

What things have you learned or advice do you have for others starting in the field?

One aspect of my career that I have come to really value is the opportunity to build relationships and serve as a mentor to my team members. It’s an honor to help them navigate how to be a professional with integrity and to be intentional in their decision making process. There are several things I have learned along my career journey (and many more things I will learn!) that I often share with my team members. So many in fact that my team started secretly writing down my sayings and put these “Mindy-isms” on a canvas as a birthday gift!. There are two ‘Mindy-isms’ that I would share with other women (and men) in the field: “Be smart about it” and “Etch-a-sketch your brain.”

“Be smart about it” is a phrase I use in reference to decision-making. It’s about thinking systematically through the various pathways available. It’s also about committing to the pathway that supports the mission of your organization, builds team capacity, and has the greatest impact on your audience. Be smart about the path you choose and be smart about why you are choosing it.

“Etch-a-sketch your brain” goes hand-in-hand with “be smart about it”. There are times when “being smart about it” means knowing when to abandon an idea, knowing when a program has run its cycle and you need to retire it, or acknowledging when you need to get out of your rut to energize your creativity. There are times when you have to “etch-a-sketch your brain” in order to erase and clear out the contents to make room for innovation and new opportunities.  Being willing to “etch-a-sketch your brain” and take on a new challenge will keep you from getting stagnant in your work and allow your team to take advantage of growth opportunities.

How does the work that you do contribute to women's history and/or women making history in the STEM field?

We are at a critical point in America where our education system is not preparing our students for the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) focused workforce needed in the United States. Employers are finding it difficult to recruit the STEM talent they need to stay competitive.  There are numerous unfilled positions in STEM careers due to the lack of qualified applicants. We are not preparing our children for the future that awaits them. This is especially the case for girls. Girls are falling even farther behind in this STEM crisis as most STEM careers have historically been filled by men.  It’s time to “etch-a-sketch our brains” in how we are inspiring and preparing our students.

“Mindy-isms” sign of leadership ideas and sayings, given as a gift to Porter by her Amazeum team. Photo courtesy of the author.

Museums play a critical role in sparking interest in STEM with a creative expression. Museums also provide experiences and creative spaces where children (and adults) can actively explore and ask questions about the world around them.  Studies indicate that an interest in science, rather than proficiency, is more strongly predictive of a young person pursuing a STEM career. The work I do at the Amazeum is in service of providing experiences that will spark and fuel an interest in STEM (and integrate the arts into STEM) for our guests, especially girls. One experience the Amazeum is offering this summer is our Girls STEAM: Dream Big Camp. This camp is designed specifically for girls to have an environment that they feel comfortable in to explore science, tinker, and make things. The week-long camp will be lead by our female educators and supported by our girl teens from our MakeHER Squad Program. The camp will also feature presentations and Q&A time with females in our community that have STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) careers. Not only will the campers spend time being hands-on with STEAM, but they will also get to see first-hand women role models who are hands-on with STEAM in their careers. Our goal is to expose the campers to the vast career opportunities available to them and to build their confidence and interest in STEAM.

It’s a multiple pronged solution to fix this workforce crisis. My team and I are simply one prong of the solution, and when we combine our efforts with others, the impact is multiplied.

Please join us next week for the last installment of our “Women Who Mentor” series. Make sure that you also read our earlier installments, featuring Gemma Birnbaum of The National WWII Museum and Laurel Miller from the National Museum of American History’s Draper Spark!Lab.