September 2020


The Museum Education Roundtable (MER) is proud to announce the 2019 recipients of the annual Awards for Writing Excellence for the Journal of Museum Education: Carissa DiCindio, Bryan L. Davis, Ariel Goldberg, Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Ross Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank and Kimberly McKenney.

Authors Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Ross Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank, and Kimberly McKenney have received the Award for Writing Excellence for their co-written contribution to issue 44.4 of the Journal of Museum Education (JME) entitled, “What Caregivers Observe about Their Children’s Learning During a Visit to the Children’s Museum.” In this article, the authors share their research regarding the observations of caregivers within the museum. Using multi-step data collection, caregivers from eight children’s museums across the country were asked about the interests, social skills, problem-solving and emotional learning they witnessed as they watched their children engage with exhibits and with others. Findings from this well-crafted and carefully executed study have implications across the entire museum, including exhibit design and education, but also for any field that wishes to engage children in learning. 

The authors of this article wish to designate their award funds to the Association of Children’s Museums

Authors Sol (Bryan) Davis and Ariel Goldberg have received the Award for Writing Excellence for their article, “At Variance with Accepted Practice: Antiracist Pedagogies Within the Jewish History Museum” in the guest-edited section of issue 44.4 of the Journal of Museum Education. In their article, Davis and Goldberg share their work at the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center in Tucson, Arizona to document Jewish histories alongside local histories of Black, Latinx and Indigenous people. The authors document efforts to pair education programs, public lectures and museum displays in order to make relevant connections between the past and contemporary issues surrounding racism, trauma and exclusion. “At Variance with Accepted Practice” presents an honest account of museum practitioners framing difficult dialogues and spurring participants, museum staff and readers into action. 

Guest editor Carissa DiCindio, is also recognized for their work to curate a collection of articles for JME 44.4, including “At Variance with Accepted Practice,” surrounding the topic of the relevancy of the history of museum education. 

The authors and the guest-editor, in their award acceptance, wished to cite and amplify the work of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), the National Museum of African American History & Culture and the International Coalition for Sites of Conscience. They accept the award in honor of Leo Ferguson, Movement Builder at JFREJ and have designated their award funds to support that organization. 

The Award for Writing Excellence goes to the author(s) of articles deemed by members of the Museum Education Roundtable Board of Directors to be novel, thought-provoking, and of the highest caliber of scholarship and writing. Any article accepted for publication and published within a calendar year is automatically eligible for consideration for the Award for Writing Excellence. All awardees are recognized for their high levels of scholarly dedication, original thought, leadership, and synthesis required to be published in the JME. The guest editors of the themed section from which an article is awarded are further honored for the relationship and effort involved between author and editor in the creation of quality content

About the Award Winners:

Lisa Brahms is the Director of Education at Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont. Prior to this position, Dr. Brahms was the Director of Learning and Research at The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and a visiting scholar with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments. Lisa holds a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh and earned her Master’s in Museum Education and Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education.


Sol (Bryan) Davis is the Executive Director of the Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona. He earned a Ph.D. in Language, Reading and Culture at the University of Arizona in 2018. His dissertation is titled, Teaching with Testimony: A Metalanguage. Davis serves on the board of directors of the Council of American Jewish Museums. He teaches for the University of Arizona Honors College, College of Education and Center for Judaic Studies.




Carissa DiCindio is Assistant Professor of Art and Visual Culture Education, University of Arizona with a focus on art museum education. Prior to this position, she was the Curator of Education at the Georgia Museum of Art. She began in the field of museum education in 2003. She holds an M.A. in art history and a Ph.D. in art education from the University of Georgia.






Susan Foutz, MA, is the Director of Research and Evaluation at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where she leads the study design and implementation of the museum’s evaluations for exhibitions and programs.







Ariel Goldberg’s publications include The Estrangement Principle (Nightboat Books, 2016) and The Photographer (Roof Books, 2015). Goldberg’s writing has most recently appeared in Jewish Currents, Afterimage, e-flux, Artforum, and Art in America. Goldberg currently teaches at City University of New York, Bard College, and Parsons, The New School. They have been a curator at The Poetry Project, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and the Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona.






Barbara Hahn is VP of Growth & Innovation at Minnesota Children’s Museum, where she led the exhibit design team for the museum’s recent renovation and expansion project. She currently oversees Family Learning and new business initiatives.





Jessica Luke is the Director of the Museology Graduate Program and a Teaching Professor in the iSchool at the University of Washington, Seattle. She has more than 20 years of experience studying learning in museums and community-based organizations. With IMLS funding, she partnered with the Association of Children’s Museums to develop the Children’s Museum Research Network, a group of 15+ children’s museums that collectively conduct actionable research studies designed to inform practice in children’s museums.





Kimberly McKenney is the Planning and Evaluation Director at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, in Washington State. She draws on exhibit and program design experience to yield meaningful evaluation of the Museum’s audience, exhibits, and programs.





Kari Ross Nelson, MA MS, is the Research and Evaluation Associate at Thanksgiving Point Institute in Lehi, Utah. Her work focuses on museum exhibitions and informal learning environments.





Nicole Rivera, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychology at North Central College in Naperville, IL. She also serves as the Academic Research and Evaluation partner with the DuPage Children’s Museum.





Melissa Swank is the evaluation consultant for The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum. In this capacity, she leads the evaluation efforts for the Museum. Prior to this role, Melissa conducted public health evaluation and cancer research. Melissa holds a Master of Public Health from Boston University and a Bachelor in Science from Davidson College.




Eileen D. Tomczuk is the Education Coordinator at the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans where she develops and evaluates educational experiences for K-12 students. Previously, she was the Research Assistant at the Children’s Museum Research Network and a Museology Associate at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. Eileen holds an M.A. in Museology from the University of Washington. Her current research focuses on how history museums impact visitors’ behaviors and attitudes on social justice issues.





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