Our Staff


Executive Office & Strategic Initiatives

Staff is available for consultation and speaking engagements on a select basis.

Headshot of Marilyn Jackson

Marilyn Jackson
President & CEO

Marilyn Jackson is the President & CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, the 10th person to hold this position in AAM’s history. Prior to joining AAM in April 2024, she served as President & CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, an award-winning museum and multicultural center dedicated to mobilizing the legacy of Muhammad Ali to inspire generations of changemakers, and advance social justice.  Additionally, she led the establishment of the Center for Humanity and Justice, a pivotal hub for the center’s impactful programs including curriculum development, youth leadership initiatives, and educator professional development. Marilyn’s achievements at the Ali Center earned her the esteemed 2023 Most Admired CEOs award by the Louisville Business Journal.

Before joining the Ali Center in 2022, Marilyn served as the Chief Engagement Officer for the United Way of Metro Chicago, responsible for marketing, communications, and stakeholder engagement. Under her leadership, United Way launched a series of public programs and learning initiatives that connected the organization’s donors and stakeholders to its community-led neighborhood development strategy.

Prior to joining United Way in 2016, Marilyn served as the Vice President of Marketing and Audience Strategy for the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), a nonprofit cultural organization inspiring people to discover why design matters through tours, exhibitions, programs, and events.

From 2004 through 2010, Marilyn served as the Director of Marketing at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Under her leadership, the marketing department created and executed a series of award-winning temporary exhibit marketing campaigns setting national attendance records.

Marilyn’s career blends more than 25 years of marketing and strategic planning experience in nonprofit and corporate environments. Marilyn has held management positions at Six Flags Theme Parks and the Ameritech Corporation. She earned her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and her Bachelor of Science in Biology And Society from Cornell University.

Marilyn, born in Jamaica and raised in Brooklyn, New York, embarked on a journey with her husband to nurture their three children amidst the vibrant cultural landscape of Chicago.

Megan Lantz
Director of Social Impact

Megan is responsible for leading the Alliance’s social impact initiative, which explores and advocates for museums’ power to change the world and their essential roles in sustaining resilient communities by enriching education systems, bolstering economies, improving peoples’ wellbeing, and beyond. Since joining the Alliance in 2015, she also has directed key global, community engagement, and education-related initiatives. Her professional experience pre-AAM spanned the federal government and non-profit sectors and has included (and at times blended) projects related to international development, public diplomacy, arts education, youth leadership, and story-telling through public radio and video. She is an avid traveler and enjoys playing in a quartet in her spare time. Megan holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a B.A. in international relations from the University of Virginia.

Grace Stewart
Director, Equity and Inclusion

Grace is responsible for leading the Alliance’s diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion, and anti-racism initiatives. She is also an Adjunct Instructor at Heinz College | Carnegie Mellon University. She has previously held positions as the Director of Collections & Exhibitions at the Metal Museum, Strategic Development Director for Tone, Registrar for the National Civil Rights Museum, and Exhibitions & Programming Associate at the August Wilson Center. She has served in leadership roles on numerous professional committees and currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Metal Museum Board of Directors. Grace is a 2021 participant in the McKinsey Black Leadership Academy Management Accelerator and a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory. She holds an MA in Arts Management from Heinz College | Carnegie Mellon University and a BFA in Ceramics from NYSCC | Alfred University. In her free time, Grace enjoys reading, creating art, baking, and spending time with her family.

Audience Development & Engagement

For the blog, magazine, and publications contact content[at]aam-us.org. For communications and marketing, contact communications[at]aam-us.org

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Natanya Khashan
Senior Director, Audience Development & Engagement

Natanya oversees AAM’s audience strategy and initiatives, including external communications and content publications, and serves as AAM’s press contact. Before joining AAM in 2019, Natanya led marketing and communications for a global diversity and inclusion consulting firm after having served in various roles in the arts and culture sector including as a museum educator for teen programs in Boston. Natanya holds a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MA in arts management from American University with a focus on the intersection of technology and the arts and DEAI in the museum field.

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Dean Phelus
Editor in Chief, Museum & Senior Director, Special Projects

Dean has oversight for editorial content for Museum magazine, book publishing, leadership programs, and the Conference of the Americas. He has been at the Alliance for over two decades where he previously provided supervision for the meetings and professional development department and international programs. He enjoys travel, documentary films, and great stories.

Cecelia Walls
Assistant Director, Content

Cecelia oversees digital content strategy on the Alliance blogs and website. She started her career as a registrar in museums and came to the Alliance as an accreditation coordinator in 2008. Cecelia holds a BA in historic preservation from Mary Washington University and an MA in museum studies from the University of Leicester, England. Her favorite animal is a Giant Panda and she enjoys hearing or reading a good ghost story.

Joseph O’Neill
Content Manager and Editor II

Joseph is responsible for editing and publishing online content. He has a professional background in communications and digital publishing, both in and out of the museum field, and an academic background in art history and communication studies.

Rachel Lee
Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications

Rachel joined AAM’s Marketing & Communications team in 2019, bringing with her a range of experience in publication production, business marketing, project coordination, and work for small museums in the Washington, D.C. area. She maintains a deepening interest in public history and digital humanities. She lives in Alexandria and, outside of work hours, is frequenting local bookstores, libraries, or searching for her next new mini-weekend excursion. She holds a master’s degree in Global, International, and Comparative History from Georgetown University and a B.A. in History from George Washington University, and has completed training in marketing and digital media.Joseph is responsible for editing and publishing online content. He has a professional background in communications and digital publishing, both in and out of the museum field, and an academic background in art history and communication studies.

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Sakina Ahmad
Assistant Manager of Marketing & Content

Sakina, a digital media and communications professional, holds a degree in Art in Mass Communications. With a master’s in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University, she excels at implementing effective marketing strategies for cultural institutions and has done so for many DC-based museums and galleries. She is passionate about merging design, writing, and the arts to craft meaningful content that celebrates people and their stories. A Fairfax native, Sakina also enjoys fine art practices such as ceramics and stained glass in her free time, bringing creativity into every aspect of her life.

Carys Kunze
Research & Data Specialist

As Research & Data Specialist, Carys Kunze supports the development and execution of research projects and data collection for the Alliance. Before joining AAM in 2022, Carys served in various roles in the museum field at Glenstone, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Outside of her work at AAM, Carys enjoys choral singing and hiking.

Center for the Future of Museums

Elizabeth Merritt
Vice President, Strategic Foresight & Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums

Elizabeth is AAM’s vice president for strategic foresight, and founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums—a think-tank and research & development lab for the museum field. She is the author of the Alliance’s annual TrendsWatch report, and writes and speaks prolifically on the trends shaping the future of nonprofit organizations. (M.A. Duke University, B.S. Yale University, Museum Management Institute).

Learning & Advancement

Contact the Development Team at development [at] aam-us.org and the Meetings Team at meetings [at] aam-us.org

Headshot of Jennifer Calvert Hall

Jennifer Calvert Hall
Vice President of Learning and Advancement

Jennifer oversees AAM’s advancement, meetings, and professional development initiatives, strategically supporting partnerships and the museum community. Prior, Jennifer held positions as executive director for the Fund for Education Abroad, major gifts officer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and associate director for Ford’s Theatre. Jennifer earned her BA from F.I.T., SUNY, and an MA in curatorial studies from the New School program at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Eileen Goldspiel
Director, Advancement

Eileen cultivates and stewards individual donors and foundations and develops strategic corporate sponsorships that support activities and strategic initiatives that benefit the museum field. Eileen started her career on Capitol Hill, worked at the Kennedy Center and came to the Alliance in 2001. Her favorite activity outside of work is reading books.

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Michelle Lacey
Development Coordinator

Michelle reads every didactic panel when visiting museum exhibitions and gives equal attention to AAM donors in her role as Development Coordinator. Previously, she served as Registration Coordinator for D. Stafford and Associates and the National Association of Clery Compliance Officers & Professionals (NACCOP), responsible for all national and private-institution class management, monitoring registration levels of 90+ national events, and database administration. Michelle holds a B.A. from Syracuse University in marketing. She enjoys cooking, traveling and enthusiastically cheering on her three sons at their various sporting events.

Susan Zwerling
Assistant Director, Learning Communities

Susan oversees a cooperative NPS Community Outreach program, and supports AAM learning and professional development initiatives. She first joined AAM in 2016 as a Museum Assessment Program (MAP) Officer in the Excellence Department. She began her museum career in the Education department of an Art and Science Museum and has a background in healthcare, and staff training and development. She holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from John Hopkins University, and enjoys traveling, food, fiber arts, and visiting museums everywhere.

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Tiffany Gilbert, DES
Director, Meetings & Learning Programs

Tiffany Gilbert, DES, Director, Meetings & Learning Programs is responsible for programming, and logistical management of virtual and in-person meetings and the creation of year-round learning programs for the museum community. Tiffany oversees the volunteer-led Content Advisory Committee (CAC) to drive content sourcing and program development, and works in collaboration with the Local Host Committee to highlight the host city museums during the annual meeting.

Headshot of Tieyara Jones

Tieyara Jones
Manager, Meetings & Events

Tieyara Jones, Manager, Meetings & Events focuses on the many logistics for AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo, Museums Advocacy Day, and future virtual events. Tieyara previously worked as a Sr. Program Coordinator at the National Medical Fellowships, where she managed various stakeholders for event logistics, recruitment strategies, and created digital content.

Excellence Programs

Julie Hart
Senior Director of Standards & Excellence

Julie provides leadership and oversight of AAM’s Continuum of Excellence including the Accreditation and Museum Assessment Programs, and other standards and ethics initiatives of the Alliance. She has been involved with accreditation and efforts to nurture institutional excellence throughout her 20 + year tenure at AAM, providing her with insight into the practices, issues, and challenges faced by museums and non-profits of many types and sizes.

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Diya Nagaraj
Museum Assessment Program Officer

As MAP Program Officer, Diya helps museums and Peer Reviewers through the MAP process and works with institutions in the Core Documents Verification Program. Prior to joining AAM in 2023, she worked as the Albert Ravenholt Curator of Danish-American Culture at the Museum of Danish America, where she was responsible for their on-site and traveling exhibits. She has her M.Litt. in Technical Art History from the University of Glasgow and her B.A. in Environmental Policy and Art History & Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis. Outside of the office, you can find her watching hockey, testing out new recipes, or at a local farmers’ market.

Headshot of Danyelle Rickard

Danyelle Rickard
Accreditation Program Officer

Danyelle joined AAM in 2014, first as a Program Officer for the Museum Assessment Program. She also manages our volunteer team of Peer Reviewers and works with AAM’s other Excellence programs. Prior to coming to AAM Danyelle worked at Winterthur Museum, the Delaware Historical Society, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House. She has a B.A. in History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Danyelle is also the Vice-Chair for the Registrar’s Committee for MAAM.

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Brianne Roth
Museum Assessment Program Officer

Brianne joined AAM in 2018 as Member Services Manager, working directly with AAM’s members to ensure seamless customer service. She now works with museums and peer reviewers participating in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) and with museums participating in the Core Document Verification Program. Prior to joining AAM, Brianne worked in public programming and museum education with the Nantucket Historical Association. She has a B.A. in History from Randolph College and an M.A. in History with a concentration in Public History from American University. She enjoys sharing her passion for museums and spending time outdoors.

Martha Sharma
Accreditation Program Officer

Martha manages the day-to-day administration of the Accreditation Program, alongside fellow Program Officer Danyelle Rickard. She guides museums and peer reviewers through all stages of the accreditation process. Martha also consults and supports the Accreditation Commission, guiding the work and informing the decision-making of this group of senior museum professionals. Martha is a former registrar and collections manager, having held positions at the National Building Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. She got her start in the museum field at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has a B.A. in Art History from the University of California, Irvine.

Stanneke Pijpers
Grant Programs Coordinator

Stanneke is AAM’s Grant Programs Coordinator, managing grants for the departments of Excellence and Social Impact. Stanneke is a return AAM employee: she previously worked for AAM’s Accreditation program and Information Center. Prior to first joining AAM in 2005, Stanneke worked in various DC area museums. She has an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands and a certificate in Museum Studies from George Washington University. She loves cooking, spending time outdoors, and visiting museums (of course) all over the world.

Finance & Administration

Contact the Finance and Administration Team at accounting [at] aam-us.org

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Carol Constantine
Senior Director of Finance and Administration

Carol has been with AAM for over 35 years, starting in administrative support, progressing to office management, and more recently directing Finance and Administration. Carol earned a degree in Studio Art at the University of Maryland and previously worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art as a docent before joining AAM.

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Amy Kampf
Director, Accounting

Amy Kampf is Director of Accounting at the American Alliance of Museums and uses her eye for detail and ability to analyze various situations and scenarios to help effectively manage AAM’s financials. Prior to joining AAM in 2019, Amy held positions in Development and Accounting at nonprofits such as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Bay Area Discovery Museum in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a striking passion for innovative work which addresses today’s most pressing needs within a community, a nation, and worldwide, and believes an organization’s operations, along with their internal and external communication, are key to what keeps society evolving and moving forward. Amy graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and is preparing for the CPA exam.

Vanessa Garcilazo
Accounting Manager

Vanessa Garcilazo is Staff Accountant at the American Alliance of Museums and is responsible for the daily AR and AP duties, as well as month-end close. She works closely with all departments at AAM and enjoys being the foundational support that her team needs. While AAM is the first non-profit organization Vanessa has worked for, she has 7+ years of experience in her field and is currently working towards her B.S in Accounting at George Mason University. Vanessa strives to keep learning and developing her skills in accounting.

Government Relations and Advocacy

Contact the Government Relations and Advocacy Team at governmentrelations [at] aam-us.org

Barry Szczesny
Director, Government Relations and Public Policy

Barry Szczesny is director of government relations and public policy where he develops, implements, executes and evaluates the Alliance’s current and long-range public policy goals and legislative objectives. Barry has more than 20 years of federal government relations and advocacy experience representing non-profit organizations, including museums, most recently as principal of Potomac Federal Consulting. As an attorney, he served as outside general counsel to The Art Institute of Chicago. Barry is a return AAMer: from 1996 to 2001, he was AAM’s government affairs counsel and assistant director of the Government and Public Affairs Department and looks forward to once again helping advance its mission to champion museums. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and four-year-old son.

Human Resources

Headshot of Alana Gibson

Alana Gibson
Human Resources Manager

Alana has a broad background in human resources management, coming to AAM from the National Association of Manufacturers, where she was a Human Resources Generalist. She is certified by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), and earned degrees in Organizational Communications, and Theatre Arts Administration.

Information Technology and Media

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Joshua Morin
Director, IT and Application Services

Josh has over ten years of experience in non-profit IT operations. As the Director of IT and Application Services, he oversees all technology platforms and services. He has a keen interest in analytics and data projects and is an avid Tableau user. Outside of work he enjoys scuba diving and traveling. If you want talk technology or Ctenophora drop him a line!

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Anthony Hovington
IT and Digital Media Specialist

Anthony is the IT and Digital Media Specialist at AAM. He has over 25 years of experience as an IT professional. Anthony assists the Director of IT and is responsible for the day to day IT and A/V support at the office. In addition, he is the technical lead for the Content Team and for digital media projects. Anthony is a graduate of Duke University with a B.A. in Afro-American Studies with a Concentration in Computer Science. Originally from Delaware, he is known outside of the office as “The Hip Hop Historian” and you may bump into him at events related to Hip Hop Culture in the DC Area.

Carlos Arroyo
Senior Web Developer

Membership & Revenue Programs

Contact the Membership Team at membership [at] aam-us.org

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Ryan Bourke
Senior Director, Membership & Revenue Programs

As Senior Director, Membership & Revenue Programs, Ryan leads the Alliance’s earned revenue programs, including institutional and individual memberships, exhibit booth sales, corporate sponsorships, advertising sales, and other products/services. Prior to joining AAM in 2020, Ryan directed membership growth, benefits communication and experience strategies for AARP, after supporting membership and marketing programs earlier in his career. Ryan earned his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and his B.A. in Government from the University of Virginia. Outside of work, when he isn’t attending to his adorable daughters or dogs (2 of each!), you might find him on his road bike or at a local venue enjoying live music.

Shelon Atwater, CEM
Director, Exhibits & Revenue Programs

Shelon Atwater, director, exhibits & revenue programs is responsible for the planning, management and execution of the exhibit hall at the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.  She also assists with the management of non-dues revenue generating operations.  Shelon started off in member services at the Alliance in 1992.

Grace Belizario
Senior Manager of Volunteer and Member Engagement

Grace comes to AAM from the Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP), where she led the nonprofits nation-wide programs, volunteers, instructors, partnerships, capacity-building initiatives, and supported the ongoing development of evidence-based research. She has 20 years of project, program, and event management experience, along with a rich communications background. Away from the office she actively volunteers in her community, engages in the performing and visual arts, hikes regularly, and is an avid runner. She has a BFA from the Corcoran College of Art + Design.

Kristin (Herlihy) DeNovellis
Assistant Director, Membership

Kristin is the Assistant Director, Membership and works to ensure members can access their benefits and decide which membership is right for them. Coming to AAM from the museum field, Kristin loves hearing from members about projects they’re working on and connecting them with helpful resources. Prior to joining AAM’s staff, Kristin earned her M.A. in Public History and can often be found at local museums talking to friends and family about how much fun history can be. When not out and about, Kristin spends her time reading and learning new skills, right now it’s baking and crocheting, but she is always open to suggestions.

Kyle Johnson
Membership Coordinator

Kyle is a Membership Coordinator, fielding membership inquiries about AAM membership benefits, services, and programs. Kyle earned his B.A. degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. On the weekends, you can find him browsing the antique stores.

Ren Dryzer
Membership Coordinator

Ren is a Membership Coordinator, providing members with information about AAM products, services, and programs and assisting with many aspects of membership operations. Ren holds a B.A. in Arts Management from the College of Charleston. Outside of the office, you can usually spot Ren at any farmers market or local arts festival.

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