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EdCom Task Force to Explore an Education-Related Core Document

The EdCom Task Force will test whether there is a general field-wide agreement in support of all museums having a core document that clearly states their educational philosophies and principles and/or guides their decisions about the development and delivery of their educational role; and, if so, what the common elements of such a guiding document are. If there is not agreement, the Task Force will suggest resources in other forms to help museums in this area.

October 2023 Update: The Task Force submitted its findings and recommendations to AAM in 2022. The Task Force’s proposal will be considered as part of a comprehensive review of all of the existing Core Documents existing and potential new ones, planned for 2023-2024, as a component of AAM’s Excellence in DEAI initiative.

October 2020 Update: Task Force created a draft set of potential required elements and presented them for feedback from AAM Professional Networks, selected discipline-specific organizations, at a 2020 AAM Annual Meeting session, and via a July 2020 EdComversation webinar (recording). Based on the feedback received, the Task Force developed a revised draft for greater field-wide circulation and final feedback.

Between Fall 2018 and December 2020 the Task Force will:

  • Conduct a field-wide survey and literature review to identify the types of documents, other guidance, and the terminology being used by the field; read the highlights of the survey results.
  • Determine if the results of the survey, the literature review, and examples of documents indicate a general field-wide agreement on a guiding education document;
  • If the survey finds general field-wide agreement on the need for and content of an education document that all museums should have, create a proposal for AAM leadership that provides clarity on generally accepted field-wide exemplary practices; defines education, learning, interpretation and engagement; and identifies the required elements for an education-related Core Document;
  • Circulate the document across the field for comments and revise as needed;
  • Make final recommendations with regard to a new potential education-related Core Document or other resources to advance excellence in the field.

The composition of the Task Force was designed to ensure that the perspectives of a wide range of museums of all types and sizes, as well as those of a diversity of museum professionals, are represented.

a dark haired main in a suit with red and blue tie

Tony Pennay (Chair)
Chief Learning Officer
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute

a woman with a gold necklace standing in front of a colorful background

Megan Wood (Vice Chair)
Director, Museum and Library Services
Ohio History Connection

Megan Wood is the Director of Museum and Library Services at the Ohio History Connection overseeing the exhibits, collections, and Ohio History Center experiences. She is a previous EdCom Steering Committee Member and current chair of the Educators and Interpreters Committee for the American Association for State and Local History.

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Veronica Alvarez 
Director of School & Teacher Programs
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

a woman with long brown curly hair with glasses and red scarfCassie Byrd
Chief Learning Officer
Michigan Science Center

Cassie has a background in clinical laboratory science and a secondary teaching credential in life science. Her professional careers have spanned formal, informal, and higher education and the military. She’s spent the last 14 years engaging learners of all ages with thought-provoking, STEM learning experiences in informal learning environments. She is currently Chief Learning Officer at Michigan Science Center.

a woman with a blue jacket and colorful blouseLaNesha DeBardelaben  
Executive Director
Northwest African American Museum

LaNesha DeBardelaben is Executive Director of the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle, Washington, strategically leading the only African American museum in the U.S. Pacific Northwest with results-oriented, mission-driven high impact and prior, she was Senior Vice President of Education & Exhibitions at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. She serves as national Vice President of the board of directors of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM), is on the board of directors of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), and is on the board of directors of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  LaNesha earned a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Kalamazoo College, a Master of Arts in history and museum studies from the University of Missouri in St. Louis, a Master of Library Science in archives management from Indiana University-Bloomington, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in U.S. educational history at the University of Washington.

a dark haired woman in a black blouseLori Beth Finkelstein
Evergreen Museum & Library, John Hopkins University

a woman in a blue dress standing in front of artwork on the wallAnn Fortescue
Executive Director
Springfield Museum of Art

From her early years as a museum educator and then through a succession of supervisory roles, and now into her work as Executive Director, Ann Fortescue enthusiastically builds teams that strive to make the museum a place for everyone. Most recently, at the Springfield Museum of Art the team has worked hard to remove intellectual and social barriers perceived by their community. Their very tangible success in rebuilding the membership base, expanding audiences, and involving new and diverse groups—who never thought of an art museum as a place for themselves—has resulted in dramatic increases in attendance and funding across all sectors. Ann finishes up her term as an Accreditation Commissioner in October 2018 and was recently appointed to the Board of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts, the state-wide advocacy organization. She holds a BA in History from Bates College, an MS in Museum Education from Bank Street College, and completed the Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Institute.

a man in blue polo short, with a bald head and short grey beard

James S. Hakala 
Senior Educator
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

James S. Hakala is Senior Educator for the University of Colorado Boulder Museum of Natural History and specializes in interpretation, museum education, and program development. His current focus is on STEAM educational efforts, including most recently, a collaboration between the CU Museum’s “Fossils in the Classroom Project” and “Shine,” a musical performance for youth community engagement that weaves together climate science and artistic expression, based in the CU Department of Theater and Dance, and the Jefferson County School District.

James has held education and administration positions with the CU Museum, National Air and Space Museum, the American Association (now Alliance) of Museums, and the National Park Service. His national service includes Chair of the Education Committee of AAM (EdCom), Chair of the Standing Professional Committee Council, and Board Member of the Museum Education Roundtable. While on the EdCom Board, he chaired the Task Force on Professional Standards, which developed Excellence in Practice: Museum Education Principles and Standards. He earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) focused in Museum Education from The George Washington University.

a dark haired woman with a grey scarf

Rebecca Shulman Herz 
Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum

a woman with light hair wearing pink lipstickLeah Melber
Director of Education, Catalina Island Conservancy

a dark haired woman in an orange blouse smilingNicole Moore
Manager of Education and Museum Content
National Center for Civil and Human Rights

a woman with long dark hair and blue sweater leaning

Melissa Prycer
President & Executive Director
Dallas Heritage Village

a woman in profile with dark hair, red jacket and turqoise necklaceJaclyn Roessel
Grownup Navajo

Jaclyn Roessel was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. An alumnus from Arizona State University, she was the inaugural recipient of the Arizona Humanities Rising Star Award in 2013, which is given to young professionals whose work elevates the importance of humanities in the community. She’s been named one of Phoenix 100 Creatives You Should Know. Working in the museum field for over the past decade, Roessel confirmed her belief in the power of utilizing cultural learning as a tool to engage and build stronger Native communities. As the president of Grownup Navajo, a company dedicated to sharing how Native American teachings and values are tools to help build greater cultural competency in museums and other organizations. Roessel most recently served as the Director of Decolonizing Initiatives at the San Diego Museum of Man. Through all her work, Roessel aims to expand her work to further inspire Native people to use their traditional knowledge as a catalyst to create change in our communities today. She lives with her husband in Santa Ana Pueblo.

a grey haired woman in a red sweater smilingCarol Stapp 
Director, Museum Education Program
The George Washington University

As the director of the Museum Education Program at the George Washington University, Carol has overseen more than 500 internships in museums of all kinds. Currently on the Editorial Board of Curator, she has recently been a member of the Education Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board and previously served as a National Associate on EdCom’s Board and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Museum Education. In 2007, Carol was the recipient of EdCom’s Excellence in Practice Award.

a woman with light hair and dark glassesMarley Steele-Inama
Director of Audience Research and Evaluation
Denver Zoo

Marley Steele-Inama is the Director of Audience Research and Evaluation at Denver Zoo. She oversees the Zoo’s internal and collaborative (multi-institutional) audience research projects, as well as program, exhibit, and process evaluations. She is the Past-Chair of Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE), and holds an MA in Education – Curriculum and Instruction from University of Denver.

a woman with glasses standing among tropical foliageMadelaine Zadik
Former Manager of Education & Outreach
Botanic Garden of Smith College

Madelaine Zadik recently retired after 24 years as the Manager of Education and Outreach at the Botanic Garden of Smith College. She was responsible for all educational aspects of the Botanic Garden: newsletter, website, brochures, signage, audio tours, interpretation, tours, volunteers, lectures/special events, interdisciplinary curricular programming, students and internship programs, and educational exhibitions. Madelaine has also served as a Peer Reviewer for AAM’s MAP Program for botanical gardens and arboreta. She holds a MS in Public Horticulture Administration with a certificate in Museum Studies from the Longwood Program at the University of Delaware.

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