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Diversity in Museum Volunteers: Notes on recruitment, training, and sustaining a diverse volunteer program

  • Wednesday, May 25, 2022
  • 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • 32

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How does an institution go about sustainably developing a volunteer program that reflects community diversity? How does the institution ensure that volunteers are trained to uphold the institution’s commitment to inclusion? At this event, speakers Mary Fernandez (Director of Special Events, Special Projects & Volunteers at Historic Oakland Foundation) and Kia Hunter (Volunteer Manager, The International Spy Museum) will discuss the complexities of incorporating diversity into museum volunteer cohorts. Share your thoughts through interactive polls and questions throughout the program, reflecting on how you champion ongoing diversity in your volunteer program.

Panelist Information:

 Mary Margaret Fernandez serves as Director of Special Events, Special Projects & Volunteers at Historic Oakland Foundation, whose mission is to preserve, restore, enhance, and share historic Oakland Cemetery in partnership with the City of Atlanta. In this position she oversees Oakland Cemetery’s large-scale programming and manages over 300 active volunteers. She has been involved in museum work, the arts, and non-profit organizations for over a decade, with a professional emphasis on BIPOC representation at historic sites. Fernandez received her Master’s degree in Latin American Art History from Rutgers University. She holds the position of South-Eastern Regional Director on the board of the American Association of Museum Volunteers. In her spare time she can be found salsa dancing and eating copious amounts of Indian food. She enjoys a co-dependent relationship with her dog, Alfalfa, and a healthy relationship with her partner, Christian.

 Kia Hunter is the Volunteer Manager at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. After more than two years in development, the Spy Museum reopened in May 2019 and Kia was asked to develop and implement the nonprofit’s first volunteer program to coincide with the Museum’s expanded vision. Her program’s mission is to provide critical support to the institution while embracing and representing the local community. This is achieved by rooting the program in diversity, inclusion, and flexible volunteering opportunities. Prior to creating and managing the Spy Museum’s volunteer program, Kia served as part of the guest services management team at The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas. She has also worked for the Smithsonian Institution, Ford’s Theatre Society, and the Society of the Cincinnati’s Anderson House in development, education, special events, and volunteer management. She has a Master’s Degree from George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Davidson College. While working in television production at American History TV (a C-SPAN network) prior to entering the museum field, Kia deepened her passion for history and museums by volunteering as an interpreter at Ford’s Theatre and now encourages others to serve the local Washington, DC community. She also serves as the president of the board of Perisphere Theater and is a board member for the American Association of Museum Volunteers.

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Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the museum field, we are offering this program free of charge to everyone, and asking participants to pay what they can. Cultural Connections is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit run by an all-volunteer board, and the funds earned through membership and program admission directly support professional development programs and resources for our colleagues throughout the Bay Area. Thank you for supporting Cultural Connections!

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