The General Session of the 2023 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo took place on May 19, 2023 with Chevy Humphrey, AAM Board Chair and President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago; Laura Lott, AAM President & CEO; Joyce Tsai, Director of the Clyfford Still Museum; Gary Steuer, President & CEO of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation; and Dawn DiPrince, Executive Director of History Colorado and State Historic Preservation Officer. Watch the full video or read the written remarks below.
As Director of the Clyfford Still Museum, it’s an honor to join Dawn and Gary in welcoming you to Denver as co-chairs of the Local Host Committee!Skip over related stories to continue reading article
As you may know, Denver is the “mile-high city,” and yet the depth and breadth of the region’s arts and cultural sector is a claim to fame that rivals its altitude. The Denver museum community is representative of the museums AAM serves – from A-Z, Art Museums to Zoos – and every institution in between. From children’s museums to vast science and technology centers, small house museums to gardens, history museums, and more, the Denver Local Host Committee, comprising 34 institutions and 45 individual members, is a microcosm of the field represented here today.
As such, you’ll find throughout Annual Meeting a variety of ways to get out into the local community and experience Denver museums. The Show Your Badge program allows complementary admission to 38 participating museums in the region. This empowers you to deploy your AAM badge, as your schedule allows, to visit area museums at no cost. Each museum offers a unique entry and occasional programming, and some even allow guests. Please check the Annual Meeting website for further details and get out and experience Denver.
Many of you have signed up for learning excursions, educational tours, and area events that the Local Host Committee and AAM staff have thoughtfully assembled. We sincerely hope you enjoy them! While most are now sold out, some tickets remain for the AAM Party at History Colorado on Sunday and the CEO/Directors Reception at Denver Botanic Gardens on Friday, and Luncheon on Saturday. Please visit registration to get your tickets before they sell out!
Finally, the Local Host Committee represents the institutions listed on the screen. Please join me in recognizing these members for their many contributions to this Annual Meeting.
Good morning everyone! I’m Gary Steuer of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. We’re so pleased to welcome you to Denver. In addition to our focus of getting you out into the community, we also wanted to bring some of the region’s brightest creative and cultural stars into this very building to enhance the quality of your experience.
Whether on the main stage later in today’s program with CO Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre and dance troupe ArtistiCO; or at tomorrow’s keynote address by Indigenous artist and activist Gregg Deal; or in the “interstitial spaces” of this gathering with Thomas “Detour” Evans near registration or Redline Contemporary Art Center’s pop-up booth in the Museum Expo Hall, we invite you to explore the vibrant Denver arts & cultural community. This Interstitial Arts Program speaks to the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation’s priority to invest in inclusive, diverse, and equitable arts and culture and nonprofit leaders to create a thriving and just Denver.
I’d also like to offer a special thanks to the many area foundations and funders that responded to the call to join us in supporting this Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting sponsors and supporters are listed on the screen above and throughout the building. Many of them will be among us, and we encourage you to offer them your thanks as you encounter them. For now, please join me in a round of applause for their generous support of the Annual Meeting.
History Colorado looks forward to welcoming many of you to the AAM Party at the close of this meeting. Good morning, everyone, and welcome! I’m Dawn DiPrince, Executive Director. As programmatic enhancements and Denver learning opportunities were a priority in our planning, so was the ethos to ensure this event was inclusive and equitable to all professionals who hoped to attend. Nationally, we awarded 31 scholarships to provide travel, lodging, and registration for emerging professionals and professionals of color demonstrating financial need.
Additionally, a deeply discounted registration program supported more than 40 additional registrations who met similar criteria. Finally, more than 180 volunteers at Annual Meeting are donating their time in exchange for professional development opportunities of a day or more. As you encounter these volunteers, please thank them for their time—and be particularly kind – these are the people who have donated their time to make sure your Annual Meeting experience is the best it can be—and thank you!
Good morning everyone! Isn’t Denver amazing?
Let’s give another round of applause to Gary, Dawn, Joyce and all the incredible volunteers on this year’s Local Host Committee for all they have done to welcome us to this great city and to plan such an incredible experience for us. Thank you all.
On behalf of the AAM staff and board of directors, I also want to extend my sincerest gratitude to each of you in this room for joining us here in Denver. We are so happy that you are here, and so looking forward to the next few days of learning, inspiration, and connection with each other. Thank you for being here.
It is truly an honor to be with you all this morning to officially kick off the 117th AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo. This is a particularly meaningful moment for me, as the conclusion of this conference also marks the conclusion of my term as Chair of the AAM Board of Directors. When my term began in May 2019, I could have never imagined how suddenly and drastically our world would turn upside down just a few months down the road. My term as board chair coincided with a period of unimaginable loss, uncertainty, and disruption. I just want to take a moment to acknowledge how difficult these past few years have been for every single one of us. Whether we talk about our personal struggles openly or not, every one of us has experienced pain, fear, loneliness, or the need for some compassion—a reminder of our shared humanity. So as we head into this week with energy and joy and enthusiasm for being here, let’s also not forget what we have collectively been through and what so many are still going through. Throughout our time together, I urge you to connect over and challenge ideas, not each other. Treat each other with kindness. Welcome newcomers into your circles. Remember that, whether you are aware of it or not, everyone has come here with their own story, their own unique set of circumstances, challenges, and perspectives.
In addition to reminding us of our shared humanity, these past few years have also reminded us that “business as usual” is no longer a viable option. If you didn’t already believe that, the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism served as a true wake-up call. When one-third of all museums in the United States faced the risk of permanent closure, it forces us to look in the mirror and ask, “What makes a museum truly essential? What causes a community and a workforce to fight for their museum’s survival?”
I am drawn to the word “catalyst” and have spent a good amount of time thinking about what a “catalyst” is. Because I work in a science museum, my first understanding of catalyst is from a scientific lens. Scientifically speaking, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction—without itself going through any chemical change. A catalyst precipitates an event. It promotes change—without itself changing.
A catalyst is a powerful agent of change. AAM has been that powerful agent of change. In 2017 when leadership at AAM helped set the tone for DEAI, it was not as prevalent as it is today. AAM, along with our field, enhanced leadership’s and organizations’ awareness of the critical impact that we could have to engage, connect, and create a deeper sense of belonging in our communities through the lens of DEAI.
Today, right now, could not be even more critical to turn the volume up more. Did you know that every nine seconds a member of Generation Alpha is born. (Generation Alpha is the name given to children born after 2010. They are the first generation to be born entirely in the 21st Century and are currently the youngest generation).
By 2045, members of Generation Alpha will surpass all other generational segments, totaling 2 .5 billion members across the globe. Census projections suggest that by 2045, the United States will be a “white minority” country. Generation Alpha is on track to become the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our country’s history. We can’t assume that what satisfies the expectations of our guests today will satisfy Generation Alpha. This is not a “future” challenge, it’s a today challenge and here’s why:
The ROI that most of us use for new attractions or exhibits is based on a 20-year life model. That means that you are creating experiences right now for future Generation Alpha adults that are being born today, like my grandson who was born two months ago. He is Polish, Black, Native American, and Irish, and, if I do say so myself, adorable!
If you aren’t thinking about the changing demographics in this country and what your communities will look and act like in 20 years, then what programs or exhibits you are creating now for 2043 and beyond may already be out of date.
At our best, our museums are vital and beloved by our communities and serve as safe, joyous, and healthy workplaces for our people. Museums enrich education systems, strengthen social cohesion, improve well-being, and so much more. This is what we mean when we talk about the social and community impact of museums. It’s how we—the people who work in and with museums—can change lives in a positive way. So the question is: How can we harness this power to foster thriving, relevant museums that community members know are essential?
Just as museums are grappling with this question, so too is the American Alliance of Museums. The strategic framework we created during the pandemic calls for deep introspection, active and inclusive listening, and bold steps to ensure a relevant, responsive, and inclusive alliance that meets the evolving needs of our museum community.
I am particularly proud of two efforts we’ve announced just this past year in support of this strategic framework. The first is our multi-year Excellence in DEAI initiative, which will engage partners, allies, and experts across the museum field to create more equitable outcomes in all aspects of museum structure and programming by intentionally embedding the principles of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion throughout the Continuum of Excellence. This includes revising the Code of Ethics for Museums, Core Standards, Accreditation, and other Excellence programs—marking the first update to field-wide standards in 20 years.
Feedback from the field will be absolutely vital to this work. Here in Denver, we invite you to join the Excellence in DEAI Roundtables at 2 p.m. this afternoon, where you can share what you want to see as a result of this major new initiative.
The second is our one-million-dollar investment into the museum community—which centers people, instead of processes, at the core of many of AAM’s programs. This investment will not only deliver exciting new AAM member benefits, like year-round professional development and communities of practice, it also will remove many of the existing barriers to participation in the volunteer and thought leadership opportunities AAM provides that we have been told are not only fulfilling but also career making. This initiative was informed by data and feedback from thousands of you, museum professionals, and we are so excited to co-create this new structure alongside you to best meet your needs. You can learn more about what we’ve got planned, and how you can inform future steps, by stopping by the AAM Resource Booth in MuseumExpo.
Before I introduce our amazing President & CEO, I want to welcome three incoming AAM board members and our incoming class of board officers, whose terms will begin at the conclusion of this meeting. Please join me in welcoming new board members Jessica Chavez, Larry Dubinski, and Patsy Phillips, and incoming Chair Jorge Zamanillo, Vice Chair Nathan Richie, and Treasurer Devon Akmon.
I also want to express my deepest appreciation to all of you who have made this gathering in Denver, and the work of the American Alliance of Museums, possible.
- Firstly, thank you to AAM’s incredible Board of Directors, including those whose terms end at the conclusion of this conference: Kippen de Alba Chu, Christine Donovan, and Julie Stein.
- Thank you to AAM’s dedicated volunteers who provide invaluable networking opportunities, who share expertise and ideas on panels and through AAM resources, and who are working throughout the next few days here in Denver to help make this a wonderful experience for everyone.
- Thank you to our generous sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors, who are so critical to the work we do.
- Thank you to the workers of the Colorado Convention Center, our host hotels, and our host museums for everything that you do to make our convening possible. We see you, we appreciate you, and we are grateful to you.
- Thank you again to the dedicated Denver Local Host Committee for your thoughtful planning and warm hospitality.
- Thank you to the talented AAM staff, almost all of whom are here this week, wearing their staff badges and ready to help.
- And of course, thank you to all the museum workers. You are the heart and soul of the museum field and the reason we do the work we do.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the person who boldly and tirelessly led the museum field through one of the biggest crises of our lifetimes: Laura Lott. Over her 13-year tenure with AAM, Laura created a stronger, more inclusive, and more relevant Alliance for our field. She fiercely led our Alliance to save thousands of museum jobs with an unprecedented 3 billion dollars in federal relief funding during the pandemic, as well as through fighting off numerous threats to eliminate the federal cultural agencies. She developed and implemented two incredibly strong strategic plans, centering equity and excellence, that have made tremendous impacts on the field.
As many of you have heard by now, Laura is joining the National Gallery of Art this summer to lead their operational, architecture, and sustainability strategy. So please join me in congratulating her, and for the last time as American Alliance of Museums President & CEO, please welcome to the stage, Laura Lott!
Thank you so much for that kind introduction, Chevy. And thank you for your tremendous leadership, support, and friendship over the years.
It has been an incredible honor to lead the American Alliance of Museums and to work with all of you for the last thirteen years! I am thrilled to take everything I’ve learned about national service and museums to serve our nation at this critical time, through the National Gallery of Art.
My new position is one that feeds my passion for lifelong learning, inspirational spaces and experiences, taking care of our planet, and the power of museums.
And I’m thrilled that I’ll be with you again next year in Baltimore. I’ll just be out there, instead of up here!
For the last time as president, good morning! And welcome to the 2023 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, here in Denver, Colorado!
You are part of the world’s largest and most diverse annual gathering of museum professionals in the world. I appreciate that you’ve taken valuable time and resources to come together this weekend as colleagues to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones; to learn from each other and our incredible lineup of speakers and sessions; to explore new museums; and to dig into “Social and Community Impact” as, together, we chart the agenda for this important work and priority in AAM’s strategic framework.
While we were together in Boston a year ago, things were still not really back to “normal.” And while you’ll notice that the large attendance and full exhibit hall here at AAM are back to pre-pandemic levels, many other parts of our lives and institutions are still unsettled and adjusting to new normals. As we recover and learn from the pandemic and other challenges of the past few years, it continues to be a pivotal and challenging time – one that requires us to be bold and to stay hopeful.
There are so many reasons to be hopeful and bold as we chart a new-and-improved normal for the Alliance and for our museum field. Why am I so hopeful?
Well, reflecting on my thirteen years at AAM, it is clear to me that we must do three things to secure museums’ position as essential community infrastructure and ensure their financial sustainability and relevance. And we are well on our way.
First, we must listen to our communities and, where we can, we must be part of addressing their most urgent and critical needs.
Second, we must take steps to be more equitable, inclusive, and accessible to more people in those communities – ensuring all people feel like they belong in museums.
Third, we must measure and communicate the impact museums are having at the community level and on major issues society is facing. That is, we must collectively advocate and continue to make the case for museums and why they’re not just “nice to have.” They are vital.
AAM, itself, is an example of this approach.
By now, many of you know I’m a recovering CPA, a Certified Public Accountant. I started my service to AAM as its CFO under the wonderful Dr. Ford Bell – who is here with us today.
Part of the reason Ford hired me was to figure out a plan to reverse a decades-long financial deficit that threatened to put AAM out of business. Not surprisingly, my first step was to analyze the numbers. Many of you have heard me say over the years that I LOVE numbers. Because they’re never just numbers.
Ford and I worked on the numbers by refocusing AAM on how we could best serve our community – the people who work in and serve museums! Focusing on our community set AAM on a path to financial recovery – and got us to a place where we could make real and positive impact.
Back in 2012, armed with lots of data and feedback from our community, we streamlined membership categories and reduced dues – by up to 65% to make membership more accessible to the 35,000 of you who are members today. Inspired by many of your museums, we created a “pay what you can” tier of membership. We created an “all staff package” for museums to provide AAM membership to museum professionals as a benefit of employment. We built a Continuum of Excellence to offer multiple and more flexible pathways for museums, of all types and sizes, to pursue the highest standards and be recognized by their peers. And we added many benefits by and for museum professionals. We provided a new online community, Museum Junction, and a robust content strategy of blog posts and publications on the AAM website, just to name a few.
Not only did AAM change its middle name, we changed our DNA to become a true alliance. We moved from thinking of ourselves as the single authority to being a platform for many different perspectives and ideas. We reinvented ourselves, relentlessly focused on our community, and in the following few years, we welcomed 70% more members, became more relevant, and balanced our budget. Of course, AAM needs to continue to grow and evolve.
As you all know and experience in your own organizations, rethinking decades-old structures is a crucial part of staying relevant and efficient – and it’s vital to our ongoing work to center equity. We need to innovate new programs and formats, based on our communities’ rapidly changing needs. And those programs need to include more of you. This is difficult work, but it is necessary work.
And it’s why AAM is investing in the museum community:
- to deepen your ability to connect with each other
- to expand professional development programs, and
- to broaden access to opportunities to volunteer and contribute thought leadership to our field.
Once again, we are inspired by you and the ways that you are evolving and helping to address your communities’ most urgent and important needs. This was never more evident than in the past three years.
You, museum professionals, despite the uncertainty and hardships that immediately struck museums (and all of us) at the beginning of the pandemic, you stepped up to prioritize your communities. To make a positive impact.
Museum professionals leaped into action to round up and donate PPE to hospitals, to feed hungry community members – and nourish their minds with content, science kits and virtual field trips and the like.
You helped museums serve as physical classrooms for the children of first responders and other caretakers who had to go to work when schools were still closed….
You stepped up to be trusted sources of information on COVID-19 – and to hold vaccination clinics in your neighborhoods, surrounded by art.
Many of these programs were supported by our Communities for Immunity partnership with the CDC, IMLS, the Association of Science & Technology Centers, and other partners. Congratulations and thank you to all of you who stepped up to serve your communities in new ways.
I’m hopeful for a future in which these efforts are the norm for all museums—not only in times of global crisis, but every single day. I’m hopeful because I see museums evolving to better serve their communities by embracing the incredible responsibility we have as the most trusted institutions in society today.
That public trust means that museums have an obligation to tell inclusive stories, to ensure that many different kinds of people feel like they belong in our museums. The information we choose to share with our visitors, the stories we choose to tell (and not tell), the communities we invite in and go out to have real implications on the public’s trust.
We also have to ensure our internal museum cultures are inclusive, that museum people represent many different perspectives and lived experiences – from our volunteers to our staff to our leadership and our board members. This is what our DEAI work is all about – and it’s why it’s integral to museum excellence, to our relevance to our communities, and to our sustainability.
Building on the decades-long work of many people, six years ago, with the leadership of Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and the support of AAM’s first chief diversity officer, Dr. Nicole Ivy, we convened a group of DEAI leaders from the field. Again, to start by listening to our community, those who had been working on DEAI in museums for years, about why museums hadn’t made more progress. One of the group’s strategic insights was that we needed to make systemic change. It became clear that we needed to look at integrating DEAI into the standards and best practices of excellent museums.
While you’ll never hear me declare “mission accomplished” I am pleased that that systemic change is well underway.
This work that started years ago was recently bolstered by recommendations from an AAM Excellence in DEAI Task Force, chaired by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch and Elizabeth Pierce, CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center. The report identifies measurable key indicators of a museum’s progress in four core areas of DEAI work.
Systemic change is also underway thanks to cooperation and support from AAM partners, including the Black Trustees Alliance, Museum Hue, and others over the last eight months, who have helped solicit feedback from museum practitioners across the sector.
Once again, our strategy and our progress are the result of your participation and your voices. The work continues this week. Please join one of the Excellence in DEAI Roundtables this afternoon.
We are always looking for new ways to partner, to gather our communities’ ideas, and help turn those ideas into action. At this meeting, I’m excited to share the launch of the Standards for Museums with Native American Collections, adopting the national core standards to reflect the needs, values, and goals of Native communities. You can learn more about this important inclusion initiative at a session tomorrow morning at 11:15.
That session immediately follows tomorrow’s keynote by artist and activist, Gregg Deal of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, joined by an incredible group of panelists who will delve more deeply into the importance of incorporating Indigenous voices, perspectives, and works in museums.
The group of professionals that led the development of the standards for museums with Native American collections, in consultation with AAM, was inspired by the Welcoming Guidelines developed by our LGBTQ+ Alliance. With the Latino Network, we’ve also published “Strategies for Engaging and Representing Latinos in Museums” in recent years.
And beginning this year, we will revisit the Core standards themselves, supported by a three-year National Leadership Grant, that will result in an updated and more human-centric and inclusive Code of Ethics, DEAI-related requirements for core documents, and revised and new standards that center equity.
This makes me hopeful. The future of accreditation—the gold standard for the field—is one in which an unwavering commitment to DEAI and measurable action, is the expectation for an excellent museum.
This systemic change is essential work because museums cannot maintain their public trust, cannot maintain support from an increasingly diverse and skeptical public, cannot be financially sustainable, and cannot develop and retain the necessary talent if we are not centering equity in everything we do.
We must continue to evolve with our communities—and to demonstrate our impact and what museums mean to people. We know this because of the threats we’ve faced before.
You might remember the dark time a few years ago when our country’s former President started to attack the federal government agencies that support arts and culture. He called for the elimination of IMLS, NEA, and NEH. I was optimistic that Congress wouldn’t let that happen, but it was a very scary threat. As an Alliance, we fought back hard. Yes, using the power of numbers.
In 2017, AAM released the field’s first-ever economic impact report with Oxford Economics and the Mellon Foundation. The numbers surprised everyone and exceeded even our largest estimates. Museums contribute $50 billion to the US economy. And our industry supports 726,000 jobs.
But, here too, these aren’t just numbers. The message is larger than the numbers themselves.
The message is that museums aren’t just recipients of government and philanthropic dollars, they are also economic engines. They positively and tangibly impact the economies of communities large and small, urban and rural, everywhere in the nation.
This was news to many decision-makers. And this news helped us ward off the attacks on arts and culture.
We also found surprisingly good numbers in our public opinion polling, thanks to Wilkening Consulting. We found that 96 percent of the public doesn’t just love museums, they support federal funding for museums! It doesn’t matter their political persuasion, if they live in rural or urban communities, or even if they go to museums. 96% of the public wants museums to be funded in their communities.
What else does 96% of the public agree on these days?!
And much of that public does go to museums. A brand new 2023 study confirmed that more people still visit art museums, science centers, historic houses or sites, zoos, and aquariums than attend all major league professional sporting events combined.
The numbers are important. They tell a story.
But without you, there’s no way museums would have had the advocacy success we have in recent years.
You are why communities and decision-makers are seeing museums as more than nice to have – to seeing them as essential community infrastructure.
You are why decision-makers made the choice to include museums in COVID-19 relief funding, providing $3 Billion to save thousands of museums and tens of thousands of museum jobs. This support was far from a guarantee. After all, museums have been left out of federal stimulus funding before and weren’t originally included in some of the pandemic relief funding bills. But you made the difference – through your calls and letters to Congress, over 62,000 of them, and through your visible and vital work in communities.
AAM provided the tools for you to be effective advocates and to tell your stories. We shared the data. We made the case to decision-makers, to media, to funders, to anyone who would listen, really. We reminded them that, when it was time to recover and rebuild, museums needed to be there, in communities, as places of respite, providing opportunities to reflect, to process, to transcend current challenges.
We reminded them that museums needed to be there to help us do better as a society – to help society grapple with our history, to invite people to consider different perspectives and to help people build empathy for others.
We reminded them that museums were needed to help give people hope for the future – to remind them that humankind has endured tough times before, to inspire communities to build a better future, and to nourish peoples’ minds and spirits – and their relationships with each other.
These are all wonderful sentiments that fill me with hope.
And we must keep going to strengthen them further. Just like with our economic engines and public support research, the first priority in AAM’s current Strategic Framework calls on us to get more sophisticated at quantifying and sharing museums’ social and community impact. We cannot just report on how many students come through the door or click on a museum website, but why it matters and how museums make a difference in the world.
There is support for this at the highest levels of Federal government. We’re seeing museums, increasingly, embedded into policies and programs that address core social and community issues.
Just a few months ago, President Biden issued an Executive Order that stated museums are “essential to the well-being, health, vitality, and democracy of our Nation.” He called museums “the soul of America, reflecting our multicultural and democratic experience. They further help us strive to be the more perfect Union to which generation after generation of Americans have aspired.” Wow! This beautifully captures the power of museums and directly reflects the talking points we, as a field, have continued to reiterate.
Echoing AAM’s own messages, a multi-agency work group on recovery and resilience, including IMLS, called for museums to be integrated into strategies, policies, programs, and funding across the government – related to health and wellbeing, education, childcare, and civic participation.
The White House recently called on museums specifically to help stem hate-fueled violence in their communities.
Our collective advocacy that museums have much to offer and a critical role to play in rebuilding our nation is being heard. Museums are being called on to help address the most pressing issues of our time. All of this recent White House and Congressional support is not a coincidence. It’s happening because museum people stepped up in unprecedented ways during the pandemic and the crises of the past few years.
With the public support and trust museums hold—and the power you all have within your communities—you can make sure museums are cited in future history books as leaders in bridging the major divides in our country, combatting hate and misinformation, and helping communities build better futures.
This makes me hopeful. And it calls on us to be bold as we navigate the next steps in our institutions and collectively as a field.
How will you and your museum answer the call to be more integral to societal issues? More embedded in your communities? How will you know you’re having an impact – making a positive difference in the world? And how will you share that story of impact with others?
Those are the three questions I hope you’ll carry with you throughout the next few days and into the months and years ahead. This is the next frontier of museum work – and it needs all of you.
And, so, as I wrap up my remarks with some notes of gratitude, I first want to thank you. I have had the honor of visiting hundreds of museums during my time at AAM and to meet literally thousands of museum professionals.
I even shadowed some of you as I began my tenure to learn about museum work – taking tickets, tending the chickens, organizing collections. I met some of the hardest working, smartest, most passionate people I’ve ever met – at all levels of museums.
This Alliance is only as strong as its community support, including our partnerships. I want to thank the Museum Store Association for joining us again this year. And thanks to all our allied museum associations – at the national, discipline, regional, and state level and my counterparts at each of them with whom I’ve been privileged to call partners and friends.
Any nonprofit organization is also only as strong as its board. And AAM is led by an incredible board, one that gives selflessly of its time, talent, and treasure – and a board that has fully supported me and the staff in innovating and in taking risks to build a stronger, more relevant AAM.
I also want to echo Chevy’s thanks for the AAM staff. They are truly a stellar group of people who go to work every day thinking about you – how to best serve you, to help you do your jobs better, to support you. Another change we made at AAM years ago is bringing just about every AAM staff member to the annual meeting. They will really appreciate your thanks when you see them.
This group will be led by the amazing Brooke Leonard as interim CEO. Brooke and I have worked alongside each other since day one of my tenure. She’s an incredible person and strong leader – and she’s going to ensure stability and strength in this transition. We’re all lucky to have her selfless service.
There are literally thousands of other people to thank for your support of AAM and of me over the years. But we have a show to get on with!
So, I’m going to end with one final personal thanks: to my family. Many of you know how important family is to me – and you have long suffered through my stories and photos of Sienna, who has literally grown up at AAM and in museums!
Some of you may recognize this headshot that’s been ubiquitous during my time here. Well, it’s time you know the rest of the story…
My now nearly 11-year-old daughter has been with me throughout this journey. Many of you have generously welcomed her to our meetings and many of you have encouraged me to keep bringing her with me and talking about her to support so many other working moms in this field. (I have really appreciated that.) Thank you. You’ll see her exploring the Expo Hall and the incredible museums here in Denver throughout the weekend.
Perhaps less visible (he’s usually on the other end of the camera) has been my husband, Steve. He’s a communications professional and so has penned and improved many of the words you’ve read or heard from me. Like many of our spouses and partners, he has been my sounding board while I’ve worked through problems in what can, sometimes, be a lonely position. He’s challenged and inspired me to think bigger. And he’s often selflessly held down the home front so that I could travel and visit so many of you across the country and around the world. He’ll also be here, accompanying Sienna, tomorrow.
I’ll end my remarks as I have many times before. While we continue to be in unchartered territory facing many challenges, none of you is alone. That’s the power of an Alliance.
Together, we are a force!