Director of Programs, Marketing, and Grants
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Lynchburg, Virginia.
What do you do on a day to day basis?
I do a little of everything. Some of the more prosaic day-to-day work is managing budgets and expenses; writing and reviewing press releases and advertisements; confirming participation of interpreters, speakers, artists, etc.; making sure we have the printed pieces (rack cards, visitor guides, etc.) that we need and where we need them and setting up and taking down for big events. I also guide our interpretive planning, program development and community engagement, which is the fun stuff.
What are the goals of your work?
My approach to (and goal for) programming, public engagement and community outreach: Finding multiple entry points to illuminate stories: emphasizing different angles, perspectives and ways of knowing; and asking questions and providing participants opportunities for feedback and dialogue.
How did folklore your career?
In subtle but sustained ways. In program development and engagement, working to understand the community’s or group’s or artist’s experience and way of seeing, rather than my institution’s point of view. Listening more than talking. Some folklore methods I had to re-learn. We had a terrific gospel group perform at a program and the lead singer had a spoken word segment where she talked about her family fleeing segregation in Florida. Some in the audience did not see the connection between African American gospel music and the spirituals and experience of enslaved people. Afterwards, I recalled my experience as a facilitator at folk festivals as a student, and how that would have illuminated the connections for the audience.
If you could give one piece of advice to recent graduates/jobseekers?
Apropos the previous anecdote, don’t silo your experiences. If you don’t find a job in the field right away, then find the right volunteer position to stay engaged. Picking up grant writing and fundraising experience where you can is a plus.
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