Tell us about your background. What did you do prior to joining the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio?
I worked at the Ohio History Connection for 14 years. My last role was manager of Curatorial Services, and I managed the curatorial staff for 10 years. We had the responsibility for caring for the state’s historical material culture and worked to tell the stories of all Ohioans, including people whose voices previously have not been heard. We worked with American Indian tribes with historic connections to the land we now call Ohio and we developed initiatives like the Gay Ohio History Initiative (GOHI), in an effort to collect, tell and preserve the stories of those communities. We collected stories and objects from communities all over the state, and it was a great opportunity to preserve history and give voice to those people and places, too.
My degrees are in library science and anthropology, but I have worked professionally primarily in museums. I was even a volunteer at COSI in middle and high school! I worked for COSI on Wheels when I graduated college. I got my master’s degree in library science and wanted to work in the confluence of history, art, and archives. My new job at DACO is a perfect fit.
What are you looking forward to in your new role at DACO?
What I am excited about at DACO is the ability to really engage deeply in the history of the place, helping with the exhibitions that we will be able to share with the community and the opportunity to further develop the education program for everyone’s benefit. This year is the 20th anniversary of DACO, so I’d like the opportunity to envision the next 20 years. We are getting ready to undertake a new strategic plan, and I am looking forward to that.
What are your impressions of DACO so far?
The grounds are beautiful and I am excited that there is a whole lot of work that will be happening there. Having three historic buildings on the property is a great opportunity. I think the Wendel Center for Art Education is incredible. It’s a really important space and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about all of the resources of the organization.
I come into a very impressive organization that has been doing incredible high-caliber work for years. There are so many opportunities to take that good work and grow it. I’m excited to reach into new areas of the community and I think there is real opportunity to do so. The mission and vision of the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio allow us the opportunity to take arts in a lot of different directions, while keeping true to their fundamental intent. There is a whole lot of opportunity to leverage the incredible work that has already been done here.
To you, what is exceptional about the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio?
One thing that is very powerful about the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio is that it's founded in local history. It’s a historic place and doesn't shy away from that. It is that combination of art and history that really makes the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio so special. It is not just an historic home. It’s the combination of the rich local history with the ability to do arts programming, bring alive fresh new exhibitions and mix old with the new that is really unique.
What are your impressions of Lancaster?
Lancaster is a special place because it’s rich with history and a proud culture. However, there are clear demarcations between folks. There are parts of the community that are in desperate need of support, and I think there are ways DACO can reach those communities and provide support in ways that I am excited to explore. I think the fact that DACO is free is really powerful and I’m excited to explore Lancaster and connect with the community in as many ways as possible. I’m also looking forward to connecting with the various communities within Lancaster.
What are your aspirations for DACO during your tenure as executive director?
I want people in Lancaster to feel like the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio is their museum and their place. It’s a historical home, and the time it represents is fairly stable. That’s the anchor, but there's so much more to be done. I've done a lot of reading about the powerful lawyers and the business the canal brought in. There were many different people who lived in and supported the town, from the super wealthy to the day-laborers and servants, and that’s probably an untapped narrative. To help tell the stories of the African American community in Lancaster, to talk about “the other Lancaster”— those stories that sometimes get overlooked — that would be phenomenal. Those are areas of opportunity to explore that may push some people a bit, but have the potential to enrich the narrative of what this place is.
What do you do when you are not at DACO?
I live in Bexley with my wife and 12-year-old. I enjoy reading and traveling (when there’s not a pandemic)!