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Meet the #AAM2019 Social Media Journalists

Category: Alliance Blog

Selected from a stellar pool of applicants who are passionate about museums, social activism, sustainability, diversity, and social media, this year’s cohort of social media journalists are truly inspiring. Each of these unique individuals is enthusiastic about the relevant and essential nature of museums.

If you’re coming to the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo, I hope you’ll introduce yourself if you see these folks Tweeting Facebooking and Instagramming around New Orleans! And, if you can’t join in person, you can follow the conversation on social media #AAM2019 and #AAMSMJ and add your voice to the conversation.

Janeen Bryant

Headshot of Janeen Bryant, a black woman with long dark brown hair wearing a bright yellow top. Follow Janeen on Twitter @1Facilitateher, @Empatheticmuse, @MuseumsandRace, on Instagram @Facilitatemovement, and on Facebook @Facilitatemovement.

Janeen Bryant is the founder of Facilitate Movement and has been an advocate and catalyst for building community capacity since 2000. Janeen, as an inter-sectional educator, facilitator and community engagement consultant, has dedicated her work in museums to building capacity for empathetic museum spaces, programs, and experiences. She has been a core member of the Empathetic Museum since its inception in 2013. Ms. Bryant also conceptualized and implemented the Listening Sessions model used by her museum in projects including “Without Sanctuary, LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality” and most notably the Latino New South Project that ultimately became NUEVOlution. As a seasoned facilitator, she helps organizations grapple with issues of race, equality, and social justice related to staffing, programming, and exhibition development. She is active in multiple industry-wide initiatives including Museums & Race and MASS Action. Janeen also served as a Social Media Journalist for the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo in St. Louis in 2017.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I look forward to creatively connecting the big ideas of museum practice to the reality of museum practitioner’s work. Everyone should have a take- away.”

Amanda Figueroa

Image of Amanda Figueroa, an white woman sitting in front of a shop window wearing a blue and red dress.Follow Amanda on Twitter and Instagram @domesticanx

Amanda Figueroa is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University and the co-founder of Brown Art Ink, a community incubator that builds relationships between artists of color and their local institutions through public programming. Amanda has been writing about museum programs and exhibits since 2014 with Brown Girls Museum Blog, an online platform created with the objective to promote the visibility of people of color, especially women, in the arts, culture, and academic fields. With Brown Girls Museum Blog, Amanda advocates for the inclusion of Latinx and other minority experiences within museums and other cultural institutions. She is also on the leadership team of the Latino Network and currently works at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture as a strategic implementation and audience development fellow.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“At the Annual Meeting, I am most looking forward to amplifying the perspectives and reflections of my fellow conference attendees on social media, so that conversations about the field don’t end when the panels and sessions are over.”

Angela Gala

Image of Angela Gala standing in a gallery in front of a series of framed artwork. Follow Angela on Twitter and Instagram @imamusaller

Angela Gala is a museum professional from Italy. Passionate about the development of the world’s most precious museums and historical sites from a young age, she holds a BS in economics and management for arts, culture, and communication (CLEACC) from Bocconi University in Milan and an MA in museum studies from the University of San Francisco (USF). While living in California, Angela interned and worked at different museums in the areas of visitor services & education programs. She relocated to Paris in May 2017, where she founded Musalley, a blog whose aim is to inspire millennials in their museum (ad)ventures. Today, Angela lives in Italy where she spends her time blogging and doing research on the latest museum trends. Along with Linda Norris (see below), Angela will focus her attention in New Orleans on international sessions and content, especially around the Getty International Program participants.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I’m excited and thankful to be part of this wonderful opportunity! I’m mostly looking forward to meeting inspiring individuals in the museum field, as well as sharing their views with as many people as possible.”

Carla Galfano 

Headshot of Carla Galfano, a white woman with short dark colored hair wearing a patterned white with black top. Follow Carla on Twitter @umbertoboccioni

Carla Galfano is currently the museum registrar at the American University Museum, Washington DC. Prior to AU, Carla was an assistant registrar for the collection at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, where she was responsible for outgoing loans and rights and reproduction. Carla has an MA in art history from the University of Connecticut, an MLIS in archival studies from Drexel University, and a diploma in conservation from the Istituto per l’Arte e il Restauro in Florence, Italy. Carla started using Twitter as a graduate student under duress but then embraced it as a museum professional to share collection objects based on whatever wacky “national” day it happened to be. Carla has also been inspired by Mark Schlemmer’s initiative #ITweetMuseums to share museum visits and Rupert Shepherd’s #MuseumDocumentation to talk about the trials and tribulations and victories of registration.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“As a Social Media Journalist, I am most looking forward to meeting my fellow journalists and helping to spread new ideas especially those related to collection management from a registration perspective to colleagues unable to attend the Annual Meeting.”

Hannah Hethmon

Image of Hannah Hethmon sitting in a theater alone turning her head to the side wearing a striped top. Follow Hannah on Twitter and Instagram @hannah_rfh

Hannah Hethmon is an independent consultant and producer specializing in all-things podcasting for museums. She is the producer of the podcast Museums in Strange Places and the author of the book Your Museum Needs a Podcast: A Step-By-Step Guide to Podcasting on a Budget for Museums, History Organizations, and Cultural Nonprofits

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I am looking forward to seeing which subjects and ideas from sessions ignite discussion on Twitter and get the whole conference talking.”

Linda Norris 

Headshot of Linda Norris, a white woman with short gray/brown hair wearing dark rimmed glasses and a striped shirt under a dark jacket or sweater. Follow Linda on Twitter and Instagram @lindabnorris and on Facebook at The Uncataloged Museum

Since 2017, Linda Norris has been working with museums and memory organizations in 65 countries to use the past to create a more just future for all of us through the Global Networks Program for International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Previously, Linda was an independent museum professional working on issues of community engagement in all facets of museum work and has worked on projects ranging from the re-interpretation of Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and exhibits on topics ranging from migrant farm workers to Chernobyl. Linda is the co-author of Creativity in Museum Practice and she blogs at The Uncataloged Museum. She is also an instructor in JHU Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage programs and she is a former Fulbright Scholar to Ukraine. Along with Angela Gala (see above), Linda will focus her attention in New Orleans on international sessions and content, especially around the Getty International Program participants.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“Because part of my assignment will be working with the Getty International Fellows, I’m very intrigued to learn about their work around the world and to share that great work out with colleagues in the United States and elsewhere.”

Saleem Penny

Image of Saleem Penny, a black man wearing a bowler hat, blue rimmed glasses and a color bow tie.Follow Saleem on Twitter @huedotart

Saleem Hue Penny is the vice president of community & educational partnerships at Chicago Children’s Museum. He leads the museum’s relationship-building efforts with city and county municipal agencies, community-based organizations, and social service providers to reduce barriers and expand opportunities to access high-quality culturally-rich museum experiences. Saleem also works with parents, caregivers, caseworkers, early childhood providers, and elementary educators to develop and support exhibits and programs that reflect the diversity of metropolitan Chicago. Outside of museums, Saleem publishes poetry, volunteers with ConTextos Chicago Project to support authors in Cook County Jail, and volunteers with Open Heart Magic as a hospital magician at Comer Children’s Hospital. Saleem also served as a Social Media Journalist for the AAM in 2017 and he will focus his attention in New Orleans on sessions and other content using research to build museum audiences, especially those related to the Wallace Foundation work.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I’m honored to be an SMJ focused on audience engagement and evaluation with the Wallace Foundation (@WallaceFdn). In particular, I’ll be covering sessions around diverse audience engagement. If you want to dig deeper into audience engagement and/or DEAI in your museum, find me with Museums and Race (@MuseumsAndRace) in the Transformation & Justice Lounge in the AAM Expo Hall.”

Carissa Pfeiffer

Headshot of Carissa Pfeiffer, a white woman with long reddish brown hair wearing metal rimmed glasses. Follow Carissa on Twitter @carissapffffft

Carissa Pfeiffer is a 2018 graduate from Pratt Institute, where she received an MS in library and information science with an advanced certificate in archives. Previously, Carissa earned degrees in English literature and printmaking/book arts from the University of Georgia. She has also spent time working in retail, tours, and marketing for the craft beer industry, but her love of museums and libraries always seems to draw her back in! Carissa currently divides her time between the Asheville Museum of Science and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I’ve benefited so much in the past from other people live-tweeting conferences I was unable to attend, so I’m excited about paying that forward, sharing resources, and encouraging those who can’t be there to join the conversation!”

Matthew Ramirez

Image of Matthew Ramirez standing behind a bouquet of beautiful flowers wearing a green suit and tie. A white man with long dark brown hair with a beard and moustache looks off to the left into the distance. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mattandcheese and on Instagram @mattandcheese21

Matthew Ramirez’s mantra: Think Art. Make Art. Be Art. Matthew is currently a teaching artist and a project liaison for the Minneapolis Institute of Art and content development–expansion strategist for Geoffrey M. Curley + Associates. Matthew likes to say he makes “spaces”–spaces to play, investigate, listen, share, and learn together. Matthew works with young people to lifelong learners and communities. He currently serves on the board for the Cycling Museum of Minnesota and has participated as an installation artist in Northern Spark, a late-night art festival that lights up the Twin Cities.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“Sharing a little more about the amazing folks working in traveling exhibitions from all over the world who’ve become good friends over the years.”

Ravon Ruffin

Headshot of Ravon Ruffin, a black woman with dark brown hair pulled into a topknot leaning against a stark concrete wall wearing a graphic t-shirt with a white jacket. Follow Ravon on Twitter @afroxmericana

Ravon Ruffin is a DC-based museum practitioner, community arts organizer and digital strategist. She strives to make art + culture accessible for and by women and communities of color, both online and IRL. She holds a masters in American studies from The George Washington University, and is an alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a degree in anthropology. It was during her time at VCU, that she realized the power of museums to be spaces for the future of community advocacy, education, and urban sustainability. In 2015, she co-created Brown Girls Museum Blog for the visibility of women of color culture workers, artists, and creatives. Currently, she is the co-founder and community manager at Brown Art Ink, LLC. She is also a digital engagement producer at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the WEBBY and SHORTY-award winning social and digital engagement team.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I am especially excited to highlight the presence and work of emerging professionals and professionals of color as a Social Media Journalist. There are so many folks doing amazing and fascinating work, with new and ambitious ideas in the field. I’m interested in highlighting their efforts, and jumpstart the bandwagon toward the future of more equitable and just museum practices.”

Mark B. Schlemmer

Headshot selfie of Mark Schlemmer, a white man with a full grey beard and mustache wearing blue rimmed glasses and a dark shirt. Follow Mark on Twitter (@markbschlemmer and @ITweetMuseums) and Instagram (@markbschlemmer and @ITweetMuseums)

Mark B. Schlemmer has over a decade of experience in the museum sector, augmented with an MA in museum professions from Seton Hall University. He is passionate about the role of museums in our society and believes firmly that #MuseumsAreNotNeutral. Since 2015, he has been on staff at the New-York Historical Society where he is currently the registrar for collections. He manages the society’s active outgoing loans program, organizes the registration logistics for traveling exhibitions, and collaborates on select in-house temporary exhibitions. Prior to that, he was on the registrarial team at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“As a Social Media Journalist, what I’m most looking forward to doing is two-fold: highlighting sessions, meetings and events relevant to registrars and collections specialists; and helping encourage all attendees to disseminate via social media their own specific perspectives on museum work in order to give the Annual Meeting a robust and accessible presence for all of those following #AAM2019 but not attending in person.”

Lanae Spruce

Image of Lanae Spruce, a black woman with short curly dark hair standing in front of a blue screen holding a piece of scientific equipment. Follow Lanae on Twitter and Instagram @_blackmuses

Lanae Spruce is an award-winning digital strategist, international speaker and experienced social creative. In her current role as Manager of Social Media and Digital Engagement at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, she uses the museum’s social presence to foster learning, creativity and shared discovery as a means to transform our understanding of the African American experience, American history, race and modern society. Spruce serves on the DC Local Leadership board for The Communications Network, the Digital Board for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, the DEAI board for the Museum Computer Network and as an associate judge for the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. You can keep up with her by following @_blackmuses. Her awards include the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s inaugural “40 Under 40” list, Adweek’s “DC Rising Brand Star,” Start High School’s “Alumni Hall of Fame,” the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences’ “Webby Award” and The Real-Time Academy’s “Shorty Award.”

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“I am excited to be a social media journalist to share my experiences as a black queer woman, navigating the museum tech field. I am looking to share storytelling resources for cultural museums.”

Helen Yuen

Headshot of Helen Yuen, an Asian woman with long dark hair wearing a dark colored shirt. Follow Helen on Twitter @TheAVAM, on Instagram @the_avam, and on Facebook @theavam

Helen Yuen leaked a personal secret to land her dream job as director of marketing at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). One day while visiting this shrine of self-taught artistry,  she admired their exhibit of Post Secrets, the art project launched by Frank Warren, whereby anyone, anywhere in the world can send him an untold truth, written anonymously on a postcard. Some are hilarious (“I only became a committed gym goer because I love the compliments I get on my workout outfits.”) to the poignant: “None of my friends invited me to a New Year’s Eve party.” Helen took the idea and mailed hers to the museum’s Director, “I never leave home without trail mix,” she confessed conspiratorially, with a hand-drawn illustration of her favorite snack. On the postcard’s other side, she asked for a job. Since starting at AVAM and managing their social media, Helen has increased the museum’s Facebook following to become the largest of any museum in the state of Maryland. While at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Helen drove engagement levels to equal that of institutions with four times the followers. Helen’s studies in art, combined with a passion for social change, have equipped her with the skills to combine eye-popping visuals with writing that turns readers into doers.

What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Meeting as a Social Media Journalist?

“Jazz, jambalaya, and walking in the footsteps of American history: How have New Orleans museums weaved their deep historical and cultural traditions into stories to share with the world and forever change their visitors?”

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