About

Board of Directors

  • Amanda Thompson Rundahl
    President
  • Sarah Sims
    Co-Vice President
  • Mariruth Leftwich, PhD
    Co-Vice President
  • Stephanie Downey
    Treasurer
  • Naomi Ostwald Kawamura
    Secretary
  • David Bowles
    Communications Co-Chair
  • Lauren Monsein Rhodes
    Communications Co-Chair
  • Emily Potter-Ndiaye
    Editorial Co-Chair
  • Meg Winikates
    Editorial Co-Chair
  • Lynn Baum
    Board Member
  • Sonal Bhatt
    Board Member
  • Adrienne Lalli Hills
    Board Member
  • Kimberly McCray
    Board Member
  • Abigail Diaz
    Board Member
  • Braden Paynter
    Board Member
  • Holly Gillette
    Board Member
  • Michelle Dezember
    Board Member
  • Nathaniel Prottas
    Board Member
  • Taylor Jeromos
    Board Member

Amanda Thompson Rundahl joined the Saint Louis Art Museum as Director of Learning and Engagement in June 2014. In this role, she provides leadership for Engagement & Interpretation, Multigenerational Learning and the Richardson Memorial Library. She spent fifteen years prior to her arrival at SLAM as an educator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The scope of her work in museum education since 1998 has included programs for docents, interns, youth, adults, families, and with diverse community partners. She also has experience in audience research and evaluation, onsite and online digital learning, and in-gallery interpretation and participatory experiences. Amanda co-curated Young People’s Ofrendas: Expressions of Life and Remembrance at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a project which was honored with a Silver MUSE Award for Digital Communities from the American Alliance of Museums Media & Technology Committee in 2013. Amanda holds a BA in art history and Spanish from St. Olaf College. She earned her MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and a certificate in Museum Studies from New York University.

Board Member since: 2015

Current positions: President, AAM/EdCom Liaison, Member of Leadership and Editorial Action Teams

Sarah Sims is the Manager of K – 12 Education Programs at the Missouri History Museum. At the Museum she plans and facilitates teacher professional development, develops and evaluates participatory school programs, and leads the team of Museum Educators who facilitate these programs for 30,000 students each year. Her areas of interest are museum literacy, inquiry-based learning and teaching, and the connection between empathy and the museum experience. Sarah’s professional experience spans both classroom teaching and informal education. Prior to joining the Community Education and Events Division at the Missouri History Museum, Sarah served as the School Partnerships Liaison and lead of the Innovation Lab at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. She has also been a classroom teacher for grades 1st – 9th.

Board member since: 2016

Current position: Co-Vice President, Member of the Leadership Team and the Communications Team

Mariruth Leftwich, PhD, has worked in the field of museum education and heritage interpretation for more than fifteen years. She currently serves as the Senator John Heinz History Center’s Education Manager, overseeing school, teacher, early learning, and youth programs for the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the History Center, Mariruth served as e-Learning Officer at the Museum of London, where she developed one of the UK’s first museum-based digital learning studios. Her work experience has also included museum teaching at the Atlanta History Center and tenure as Vice President for Education & Programs at the Charlotte Museum of History, where she built the education and public programs department with the opening of a new museum. Mariruth holds a PhD from the University of London’s Institute of Education in the area of museum education, an MEd focusing on curriculum design and instructional technology, an MA in history from Royal Holloway, and a BA in history with secondary teaching certification from Oglethorpe University.

Board Member since: 2015

Current Position: Co-Vice President, Member of Leadership Team and Editorial Team

Stephanie Downey is the Managing Director at Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. and has nearly two decades of experience managing and designing research and evaluation projects in all types in museums as well as conducting educational research and program evaluation in public schools. Stephanie’s background as an anthropologist drives her interest and commitment to using evaluation and research to understand and ultimately improve the visitor experience in informal learning environments and museums. During her long tenure at RK&A, Stephanie’s qualitative approach and experience has contributed to the firm’s high-quality reputation. In particular, Stephanie works on the firm’s newest service, capacity building, and has conducted dozens of staff trainings and evaluation workshops.

Board Member since: 2016

Current Position: Treasurer, Member of Leadership Team

Born and raised in California, Naomi Ostwald Kawamura is a Nisei educator and arts administrator who has held leadership positions with numerous arts & cultural organizations in the United States. Prior to moving to Canada, she served in director-level positions at the San Diego History Center, the California Center for the Arts, the Bay Area Video Coalition and the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California. Naomi currently works at the Nikkei Place Foundation and is a PhD student in Education at the University of British Columbia. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Washington and her Master’s degree in Arts-in-Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Naomi lives with her husband and daughter in Vancouver.

Board member since: 2016

Current position: Secretary, member of Leadership Team and Editorial Team

David Bowles is a museum educator and informal learning specialist. In his role as Gallery Educator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, he conducts scholarly research in preparation for leading gallery conversations, lectures, tours, courses, and innovative educational programs for both current and emerging audiences. David also shapes fresh approaches to gallery engagement through a range of experimental initiatives, and helps supervise teaching in the galleries, overseeing progress through regular observations, guidance, and mentorship. Before moving to the West Coast, David led K-12 School Programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Rubin Museum of Art in New York, where he helped shape pedagogical approaches to engaging young learners. He presents regularly at national conferences, seminars, and workshops. David holds an M.S.Ed. in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education, and a B.A. with Honours in Art History from McGill University.

Board Member since: 2016

Current Position: Co-Chair of the Communications Team, Member of Leadership Team

Lauren Monsein Rhodes is a research consultant and ethnographer. Prior, Lauren was the Senior Museum Education Manager at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and an Assistant Professor in the Cultural and Social Anthropology Program at University of Latvia (LU), where she co-supervised the first museum education symposium in Latvia – Museums Revealed. Museums Revealed is now an active museum education organization and consultancy founded by former LU anthropology students. Lauren has also held positions at RISEBA Faculty of Architecture and Design, Weeksville Heritage Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Kitchen. Lauren has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Washington, a MSEd in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education, and a BA in Anthropology from Oberlin College.

Board member since: 2016

Current position: Co-Chair of the Communications Action Team

Emily Potter-Ndiaye has 10 years’ experience managing and leading museum programs that leverage history and humanities topics to spark and contextualize meaningful contemporary dialogue. Currently Director of Education at Brooklyn Historical Society, she oversees a range of programs that engage over 15,000 students, teachers, and multigenerational groups annually at three sites: Brooklyn Historical Society’s landmark building, Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO (a satellite museum), and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Her programmatic focus is on shared authority practice in museums, and bridging the divide between emerging scholarship and public memory/history experiences through teacher professional learning, youth leadership opportunities, and student-generated scholarship. Emily Potter-Ndiaye received an MA in Museum Studies from NYU and a BA in History and African Studies from Macalester College. Prior to her work at Brooklyn Historical Society, she led education programs at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the New-York Historical Society, and Institution Marc Perrot in Dakar, Senegal.

Board Member Since: 2017, Co-Chair of Editorial Team

Meg Winikates is the Director of Engagemenr at the New England Museum Association (NEMA) and has more than fifteen years experience in museums and education. Immediately prior to joining the NEMA team, she worked as the Programs Coordinator for the Art & Nature Center at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. She has also worked at the Discovery Museums, the Longfellow National Historic Site, the Paul Revere House, and the New England Aquarium, among others. Meg graduated from Harvard with a B.A. cum laude in English Literature & Language, completed the Tufts museum studies program, and received her master’s in arts administration from Boston University. Aside from her love for museums, Meg is a published author and also enjoys travel, jewelry design, scuba diving, playing flute, and taking in a night of theater whenever she can. Her blog on museums and interdisciplinary education can be found at http://brainpopcorn.com.

Board Member since: 2016

Current Position: Co-Chair of the Editorial Team, Member of Leadership Team, Council of Affiliates Liaison

Lynn Baum has spent her entire career committed to the belief that museums have a special role to play in helping everyone become enthusiastic and successful learners. This has been her guiding concept in developing educational programs, evaluation plans and exhibits for all audiences. Lynn’s degrees in geology (Case Western Reserve University) and science museum education (Lesley University) have been a foundation for her work.

For much of her career, Lynn worked at the Museum of Science, Boston. During that time, she created and sustained suite of youth programs for urban teens, developing partnerships that continue today. These nationally recognized programs offered extended inter-generational learning and working opportunities for youth by utilizing all the resources within the museum, providing the museum with a new and more diverse workforce.

Currently, as principal of Turtle Peak Consulting, Lynn is involved with museum projects that are heavily focused on evaluation and education. Past and current clients include the MIT Museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA and the Morton Arboretum, near Chicago. Additionally, Lynn teaches courses on learning theory and research and evaluation in the Museum Studies Program at Harvard.

Board Member Since: 2017

Sonal Bhatt is Vice President of Education and Interpretation at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She directs BBG’s renowned education programs focused on inquiry-based, hands-on learning about plants, science, and the environment. Her portfolio includes programs and training for teachers, schools and families, continuing education programs for adults, and interpretation and exhibitions throughout the Garden. In addition she oversees the Garden’s partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment (BASE) High School and BBG’s library, gardener’s resource center, and archives. Most recently has worked with her team to create programs that welcome children with all abilities in the Garden’s new Discovery Garden, programming for adults with memory loss, and diversity training for all of her staff. She has also worked on how to address issues of physical accessibility in the Garden. Prior to coming to BBG in 2009, Sonal managed interpretive projects at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s zoos and aquarium and worked in the natural history department and family-focused art space, the Art and Nature Center, at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Boston University. She has been working in cultural institutions for over 20 years creating educational experiences and sharing her love of all things science.

Board Member Since: 2017

Adrienne Lalli Hills is Manager, Exhibitions and Public Programs at ahha Tulsa, where she organizes rotating exhibitions and leads operations for studio programming and an arts-focused Maker Space. As Senior Interpretive Planner at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, she worked with colleagues to produce visitor-centered exhibitions, permanent collection reinstallations, and pan-institutional interpretive initiatives. Adrienne earned her MA, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Tulsa.

Board Member Since: 2017

Kimberly McCray, Ph.D., is a lifelong learner and museum educator with more than 15 years of museum professional experience with a keen interest in museum education, adult learning theory, and public programs. She joined Baylor University’s Department of Museum Studies as a full-time lecturer in January 2017. As a lecturer, McCray is deeply involved in teaching and also serves as one of the faculty co-moderators of the Museum Studies Student Association. Prior to moving to Waco, Texas, McCray completed her Ph.D. in Educational Studies at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while working full-time as the adult programs coordinator at Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. At Shelburne Museum, she managed the visitor guide (docent) program and produced public programs for adult audiences. Her dissertation research explored infusing adult learning and development theory into the training/professional development of visitor guides at Shelburne Museum.

Previously, McCray worked as Director of Interpretation and Education at the Nantucket Historical Association and as the Public Programs Coordinator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum. McCray also holds a B.A. in American studies, a B.A. in journalism, both from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Georgetown University.

Board Member Since: 2017

Abigail Diaz has worked at thirteen cultural institutions across four states. Past professional experiences includes the Museum of Science and Industry, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA), the Michigan Science Center, Chicago Public Library and James Madison’s Montpelier. In her current role as Director of Education at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, she works to create physically, cognitively and socially engaging educational experiences for all learners. In addition to this work, she is creating a museum-wide community of inclusion through partnerships, professional development and collaboration. She is also a volunteer for the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, working on a Library Bill of Rights interpretation regarding library services for people with disabilities. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and History from Central Michigan University. She is currently working toward ADA Coordinator certification (anticipated completion summer 2018). Abbie believes museums (and libraries!) are for everyone and works every day to make that a reality.

Board Member Since: 2018

Braden Paynter is the Program Manager for Membership, Methodology and Practice at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, where he collaborates with sites to help refine and spread their great ideas to other members and the wider fields. Braden also helps sites to do their best work through training, coaching, and consulting on facilitated dialogue, public programing, exhibitions, and community engagement, with focuses in issues of race, slavery, activism, and violence prevention. Braden’s past work has focused on using public education spaces to connect people to each other and the world around them. Before joining the Coalition, Braden worked with the National Park Service at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Mount Rainier, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the National Capital Region. He was also the exhibit developer at Old Sturbridge Village. Braden has his MA in museum studies from George Washington.

Board Member Since: 2018

Holly Gillette is an art museum educator with an interest in gallery teaching and community building. She is currently the Manager of Mobile Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where she oversees the Ancient World Mobile and Maya Mobile programs. Holly joined LACMA in 2012 as an education coordinator for the Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site program, a position she held for six years. Prior to working at LACMA, Holly began her career in Museum Education at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, focusing on school, early childhood, and family audiences. Holly holds a MS.Ed. in leadership in museum education from Bank Street College Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in art history and studio art from University of California, Davis. Holly also serves on the Board of Museum Educators of Southern California (MESC) and is a Western Region Co-Representative for the American Alliance of Museum’s professional network EdCom. In her down time, you can find Holly knitting and posting on her Instagram @hollymarieknits and taking her mini schnauzer on hikes around Los Angeles.

Board Member Since: 2018

Michelle Dezember is the Chief Program Officer at the Aspen Art Museum, where she oversees education, curatorial, and editorial efforts. Her work developing the museum’s strategic programming, namely diversifying and amplifying community engagement in the rural, 100-mile radius surrounding the museum, garnered a 2017 National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Previously, she was Deputy Director of Programming and Special Projects at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, where she also served as Acting Director and Head of Education. She has also worked as a museum educator at the de Saisset Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, The Center for Architecture Foundation, Queens Museum, and the Museum of the History of Immigration (Barcelona). She holds a diploma in Visual Cultural Studies from the University of Barcelona and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester.

Board Member Since: 2018

Nathaniel Prottas is Director of Education and Visitor Services at the Wien Museum (The City Museum of Vienna), Austria. In his role as a senior member of the museum’s staff, he oversees the development of all school, family, and adult programming in the museum’s 17 locations throughout the city. He works closely with curators and conservators to help develop storylines and define questions for special exhibitions and is currently co-developing the museum’s new new permanent exhibition with a team of curators. Before joining the Wien Museum, Nathaniel was Director of Education at the Museum of Biblical Art, held the Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Fellowship at the Frick Collection, and worked as an educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA from University College London, and a BA from The University of Chicago. He has published both on art historical and museum education topics in journals including the Journal of Museum Education, the Journal of Aesthetic Education, and the Journal of the Philosophy of Photography.

Board Member Since: 2018

Taylor Jeromos is the Programs Coordinator at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo, NY, where she uses her background in museum programming and education to help facilitate engaging and unique experiences for visitors from around the world. Taylor’s career has focused on creating programming, centering diverse narratives, and facilitating informal learning opportunities for people of all ages. She’s been a part of the education teams at a number of museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Taylor earned a Master’s in Museum Studies and Public History at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and holds a Bachelor’s in Medieval and Gender History from Earlham College.

Board Member Since: 2018