Director of Grants Programs, Mississippi Arts Commission, Jackson, MS
Where do you currently work?
I am the Director of Grants Programs at the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state arts agency. I'm primarily an administrator, overseeing the agency's grants programs, including updating forms, managing an online application system, and keeping up with our federal grants. I also manage a grant program that supports capital improvements at arts facilities, which has introduced me to the world of architectural drawings, contractor invoices, and new roof repair technologies.
I still have some creative work where I utilize my Folk Studies training, including serving as a host of my agency's arts interview radio show, conducting interviews for oral history projects around Mississippi, and writing profiles on musicians for the local weekly newspaper.
Tell me a bit about your career?
I've worked at the Arts Commission for nearly all the time since graduating from Western. I started at the agency in 1998 as the Heritage Program Director (Folk Arts) following a short period of juggling multiple small contract jobs. The position allowed me to take on several different projects that related directly to my graduate work, including documenting traditional artists and assisting them with the grant process, creating exhibits and radio programs on Mississippi folk culture, and developing ongoing professional development workshops for documentary workers and festival coordinators. I held this position until 2008, when I moved into my present job.
How did folklore prepare you for your career?
WKU's Folk Studies program was a perfect fit for me. I got very rigorous academic training in the discipline as well as real-life experience working on projects in different aspects of public folklore work, such as completing a National Register nomination, working on the state folklife festival, and interning at the Country Music Foundation. The program's ongoing connections to cultural agencies in the state (and region) are highly valuable resources for students who are pursuing a career in the public sector.
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