Professional Development

SHA a “Formative Program”

I’m an evangelist for professional development. If you expect your organization to thrive and do great things – invest in your staff: utilize their skills, encourage them to try new things, and offer support for professional and educational endeavors. A happy, supported staff is a successful staff.

In the museum world, where salaries can be low to moderate but responsibilities always run high, professional development opportunities can make a world of difference. When staff feels valued – the entire organization wins. Which brings me to the following post from the Developing History Leaders @SHA blog, “ SHA a “Formative” Program .” There are numerous posts on this blog discussing the value of Developing History Leaders @SHA – not only by myself (can’t lie – I love this program), but contributions from alumni around the country (please note: you can apply if you live outside of the U.S.). In a few short weeks, I’ll be attending the AASLH Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, and will officially take the reins of SHA Alumni Committee Chair from the amazing Laura Minzes.

SHA Alum, Andy Masich (Class of ’82), was recently featured in an article making the rounds on Twitter last week titled, “Selling history: Museums, sites find creative ways to attract patrons.” In regards to “selling history,” Andy is quoted saying:

“You can’t force things on an audience,” he said. “You have to match the medium with the audience.”

Masich says such thinking is more common now, but in the late 1970s when he was in graduate school, he never encountered it until he went to a seminar for historical administration at Williamsburg, Va. He calls that event a “formative program” in his thinking of steering a museum.

What seminar for historical administration is Andy referring to, you ask? THE Seminar for Historical Administration, now Developing History Leaders @SHA. Thirty years later, the program may have a different name but the experience still resonates with Andy. Proof that professional development matters.

If you’re in the history field and are interested in learning more about the Developing History Leaders @SHA, visit or feel free to contact me.

History Leadership Institute

Part of my job is to follow the trends happening in the field of history organizations. For the most part I get this information from blogs I follow, Twitter or LinkedIn, or just folks sending me an email.

(In the case of this article, “Selling history: Museums, sites find creative ways to attract patrons,” I saw it on Twitter and via email.)

Many of us know all too well the challenge of presenting history’s fascinating stories to an often disengaged public. As the article notes, “That challenge forces the managers of historical sites and museums to be alert to ways of telling their stories that sometimes seem far removed from history.”

What struck me was not as much the content of the article, rather, it’s a quote from Andy Masich, who attended SHA in 1982:

“You can’t force things on an audience,” he said. “You have to match the…

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