About

Board of Directors

  • Emily Potter-Ndiaye
    President
  • Naomi Ostwald Kawamura
    Co-Vice President
  • Michelle Dezember
    Co-Vice President
  • Lynn Baum
    Secretary
  • Abigail Diaz
    Co-Treasurer
  • Stephanie Downey
    Co-Treasurer
  • Kimberly McCray
    Editorial Co-Chair
  • Wendy Ng
    Editorial Co-Chair
  • Taylor Jeromos
    Communications Co-Chair
  • Hazel Theriault
    Communications Co-Chair
  • Mariruth Leftwich, PhD
    AAM Liaison
  • Jordia Benjamin
    Board Member
  • Sarah Bloom
    Board Member
  • Holly Gillette
    Board Member
  • Adrienne Lei
    Board Member
  • Brindha Muniappan
    Board Member
  • Emily Pinkowitz
    Board Member
  • Braden Paynter
    Board Member
  • Sarah Sims
    Board Member
  • Kate Zankowicz
    Board Member

Emily Potter-Ndiaye leads museum programs that leverage history, art, and cultural heritage to spark and contextualize meaningful contemporary dialogue. Currently the Dwight and Kirsten Poler & Andrew W. Mellon Head of Education and Curator of Academic Programs at the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, she oversees student and faculty engagement through class visits, student employment/internship/mentoring, public programs, and inclusive interpretation. Her programmatic focus is on shared authority practice in museums, and bridging the divide between emerging scholarship and public humanities/cultural experiences through curricula, student 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 the Mead, she was Director of Education at Brooklyn Historical Society and 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

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

Michelle Dezember is the Director of Learning and Engagement, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Previously, she was Chief Program Officer at the Aspen Art Museum, which received a 2017 National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in recognition of her team’s work. She has also served as Interim Director and founding Head of Education at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, and as a museum educator at the de Saisset Museum, Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, The Center for Architecture Foundation, the 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

Current Position: Co-Vice President, member of the Communications Team and Leadership Team

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

Current Position: Secretary, Member of the Leadership Team and Editorial Team

Abigail Diaz (she/her) 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 & Programs at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, she creates physically, cognitively and socially engaging educational experiences for all learners. Abbie is a certified ADA Coordinator and was the Kennedy Center’s Emerging Leader in accessibility in 2018. Abbie believes museums are for everyone and works every day to make that a reality.

Board Member Since: 2018

Current Position: Co-Treasurer, member of the Communications Team and Leadership Team

Stephanie Downey brings more than two decades of research and evaluation experience to her position as director of RK&A.  She takes pleasure in working closely with museums and other informal learning organizations to help them make a difference in the lives of their audiences.  Stephanie has undergraduate and graduate degrees in anthropology and ultimately is driven by her lifelong interest in how humans behave and make meaning.  Prior to joining RK&A in 1999, she conducted educational research and program evaluation in public schools.  Stephanie serves as treasurer on the board of the Museum Education Roundtable, frequently presents at professional association conferences like the American Alliance of Museums and the National Art Education Association, and regularly peer reviews manuscripts for the Journal of Museum Education and Curator.  When not working, you can find Stephanie in the kitchen trying new recipes, cheering on her children in their various activities, and hiking trails along the Hudson River.

Board Member since: 2016

Current Position: Co-Treasurer, Member of the Leadership Team and Editorial Team

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

Current Position: Co-Chair, Editorial; Member of the Editorial Team and Leadership Team

Wendy Ng is an informal education specialist and advocate for equity and inclusion. As an immigrant and settler on occupied Indigenous lands, she has worked to change educational institutions from the inside out by holding space and building platforms for authentic voices historically marginalized from the narratives of museums and galleries. She has done so by implementing strategic plans, change management, and culture transformation initiatives throughout her career managing educational programming in large public institutions including the Ontario Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, and Art Gallery of Ontario. She presents regularly at national and international conferences and is a published author with a focus on social justice in museum education. Her museum career began with a paid position at the Science Museum in London, England and paid internships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Wendy holds a MAT in Museum Education from George Washington University, a BFA and BEd from York University, and is a certified teacher in Ontario.

Board Member Since: 2019

Current positionCo-Chair, Editorial; Member of the Editorial Team and Leadership Team

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

Current Position: Co-chair, Communications Team; member of the Communications Team and Leadership Team

Hazel Theriault is a museum professional passionate about inclusivity, community, and helping folks pursue their curiosity. She has served as the Manager of Public Programs at the Orlando Science Center, where her work included developing The Hive: A Makerspace, working with NSF grant projects, & implementing professional development training as a Portal to the Public representative. Hazel started as a volunteer docent at the Mummies of the World exhibit at the Orlando Science Center in 2015 & previously worked at Skeletons: Museum of Osteology. She has been featured as one of the JetBlue Foundation’s Fly Women & aims to inspire young people of all identities to view STEM careers as a possibility. Hazel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology & a Crime Scene Investigation Certificate from the University of Central Florida.

Board Member Since: 2019

Current Position: Co-Chair, Communications; Member of the Communications Team and Leadership 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: AAM Liason, Member of the Leadership Team and Editorial Team

Jordia Benjamin is an art museum educator, community engagement specialist, and college instructor with over a decade working in the museum sector at both national and international institutions. She believes public engagement work is critical to a museum’s mission and should lie at the heart of its strategic priority to expand access, engagement, and opportunities for its local and global audiences.

Jordia has worked primarily in museum education; first, at the Contemporary Art Museum at the University of South Florida, then leading the education department at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, along with being selected as the 21st Romare Bearden Graduate Minority Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

A Bahamian native, Jordia received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art concentrating in Painting from the University of South Florida;  a Master of Nonprofit Management and a graduate certificate in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida. She is also a Certified Museum Professional from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

Jordia is currently the Mirken Senior Coordinator of Programs and Audience Engagement at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine where she oversees all of the Museum’s public programs and community engagement initiatives.

Board Member Since: 2020

Current Position: Member of the Communications Team

Sarah Bloom recently joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Discovery Center as the Sr. Officer for Interpretation and Visitor Engagement – overseeing K-12 Education Programs, Youth Programs, Interpretive Strategies and Exhibitions. Prior to this most recent tenure, Sarah served as the Associate Director of Education at the Seattle Art Museum, where for the past eight years, she played a key role in developing and strengthening SAM’s programs across the museum’s three sites: SAM Downtown, the Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park.. Education, engagement, and outreach have always been at the core of Sarah’s work. Prior to SAM, Sarah held positions with the Getty Museum, the Norton Simon, and the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Los Angeles. A native of Alexandria, Egypt, Sarah received a BA from Boston University and an MA from the University of Colorado in Classical Art & Archaeology.

Board Member Since: 2020

Current Position: Member of the Communications Team

Holly Gillette is currently the Director of School and Teacher Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Since 2012, Holly has developed programs for students, teachers, and intergenerational families through her various roles at LACMA. 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. 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

Current Position: Member of the Editorial Team

Adrienne Lei is the Manager of Education & Public Programs at The Frick Collection in New York City, where she has worked since 2008. Adrienne holds an MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University Teachers College.

Board Member Since: 2020

Current Position: Member of the Editorial Team

Brindha Muniappan is the Senior Director of the Museum Experience at the Discovery Museum in Acton, MA. She is enthusiastic about producing meaningful ways for people of all ages and diverse experiences to engage with science and technology, and working in a variety of museums has helped her accomplish this. Her work at the Discovery Museum continues a focus on diversifying audiences through intentional collaborations with local community organizations. Before joining the Discovery Museum in 2019, Brindha had spent eight years at the MIT Museum leading the Education & Public Programs team and had been an Education Associate in the Current Science & Technology group at the Museum of Science, Boston. Brindha’s passion for science communication led her from the research bench at MIT — she has a degree in environmental engineering and PhD in biological engineering — and into the field of informal science education.

Board Member Since: 2019

Current Position: Member of the Communications Team

Emily Pinkowitz is the Director of Education at the Portland Audubon. She has fifteen years’ experience leveraging education and engagement strategies to build equity in public spaces. As Director of Programming & Engagement at WCS, she worked with teams at five parks across New York to implement an inclusive, audience-driven approach to education, and spearheaded a new city-wide initiative to democratize access to career training for 1,400 young people who work and learn across WCS parks. As Director of Programs & Education at Friends of the High Line during the park’s first six years, she initiated arts, history, nature and design programs for all ages and launched community engagement and economic justice initiatives with local public housing residents. Prior to the High Line, she worked as an educator and researcher in a number of museums, including the Oakland Museum of California, where she used visitor studies as a tool to incorporate the voices of local Black, Latino and Asian-American communities in the redesign of the Gallery of California Art, and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where she worked to redesign the Kitchen Conversations program to engage visitors in reflective conversation about contemporary immigration. She holds an MA in Museum Studies from NYU, where she was a Museum Studies Fellow and an American Alliance of Museums Diversity Fellow, and served on the Board of the New York Museum Educators Roundtable from 2013-2017.

Board Member Since: 2019

Current Position: Member of the Communications Team

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

Current Position: DC Liaison, Member of the Editorial Team

Sarah Sims is the Director of Visitor Engagement and Accessibility at the Missouri Historical Society where she works with a team to ensure a welcoming, meaningful and equitable experience for all visitors. Her areas of interest are museum literacy, visitor motivations, the connection between empathy and the museum experience, and making museums physically, intellectually, and culturally accessible to all visitors. Prior to her current role, Sarah held positions in K-12 Education at the Missouri Historical Society and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Sarah holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Museum Studies and Art History from Case Western Reserve University.

Board member since: 2016

Current position: Member of the Editorial Team

Kate Zankowicz (she/her/hers) is a museum education practitioner who has created community-driven, inclusive programming in museums in Canada and the US for the past 15 years. Her practice has centered around creating collaborative programming with, not for, communities. 

Kate holds a PhD in Education, with a focus on museum-based learning, from the University of Toronto (OISE). She currently serves as the Manager of Youth, Family and Community Engagement at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. 

During her current tenure at the Huntington, Kate introduced the first occupational therapy doctoral residency, as well as garden-based and arts-based programming with families of all abilities. She also implemented free preschool arts programming, free drop-in multilingual family programs, and  multisensory tours with blind and partially sighted community members.

 Kate designs, develops and implements inclusive curricula and museum experiences, and speaks regularly about inclusive museum education at local and international conferences. She also serves on the DEI Committee at The Huntington and is involved with various cross-institutional DEI initiatives in Los Angeles.

Board Member Since: 2020

Current Position: Member of the Editorial Team