MANY Elects The Rockwell Museum Executive Director Brian Lee Whisenhunt as Board President and Announces New and Returning Board Members
Brian Lee Whisenhunt, Executive Director at The Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY has been elected MANY Board President
The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is pleased to announce the election of Brian Lee Whisenhunt, Executive Director of The Rockwell Museum as Board President. Whisenhunt joined MANY in April 2018 and has served as Program Chair and Vice President. He previously served on the board of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association and currently serves on the Museum Advisory Council of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.
“Working for the betterment of my community, whether the city in which I live or the professional group with whom I work, is a value I hold dear,” said Whisenhunt. “The opportunity to serve the New York museum community as President of the Board of Directors of MANY is a charge I am thrilled to undertake and honored to perform. Working with Erika Sanger, the MANY staff and Board of Directors as we continue to address the evolving needs of New York’s museums; the ongoing challenges of the pandemic; and the work on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion within the field.”
Whisenhunt worked in museum education for ten years before beginning his career as a museum director at the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana where he oversaw their successful accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Whisenhunt has also served as the Executive Director of the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas where he led a $5.4 million renovation. He joined The Rockwell Museum in January 2017.
“I am looking forward to working with Brian to implement MANY’s new strategic plan, reshape board engagement, and plan for the next generation of board members,” said MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger. “We learned so much about the value of our museum association during the pandemic and under Brian’s leadership we will be able to take the products of those lessons to advance the organization and better serve museum professionals across the state.”
Whisenhunt is joined by a new Executive Committee with co-Vice Presidents Bruce Whitmarsh (Chemung County Executive Director and previous MANY Board Treasurer) and Dr. Georgette Grier-Key (Eastville Community Historical Society Executive Director and Chief Curator), Treasurer Marissa Wigglesworth (Buffalo Museum of Science, Tifft Nature Preserve President and CEO), and Secretary Diane Shewchuk (Albany Institute of History & Art Curator).
MANY is also pleased to announce the election of six new board members and the re-election of four to their second terms.
Newly elected board members are Victoria Reisman, Beth Ann Balalaos, Joshua Ruff, Samantha Hall-Saladino, Nick Martinez, and Dr. Callie Johnson. Alexandra Drakakis, Diane Shewchuk, Marissa Wigglesworth, and Becky Wehle were re-elected to their second terms, bringing the total number of board members to 25. MANY Board members serve three-year terms and represent museums of all disciplines, budget sizes, and geographic locations as well as partner industries in New York State.
“I’m ecstatic about the skills, perspectives, experience and talent the new members of MANY’s Board of Directors brings to our association,” said Whisenhunt. “As we continue to work through the current challenges and opportunities presented to our organization as well as the institutions we serve, I appreciate the willingness of our new Directors to contribute to the success of the museum community of New York.”
Victoria Reisman is a curator at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation’s Bureau of Historic Sites based at Peebles Island Resource Center. She previously served as the curator of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, where she produced 21 special exhibitions, developed a nationwide juried photography exhibition program, and created a grant-funded gallery space to highlight trophies from the collection. Her museum work experience includes internships in the Learning Services department at the Australian Museum (Sydney, Australia), the curatorial department at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia), and the Lehigh University Art Galleries. Reisman is a graduate of Lehigh University (Bachelor of Arts, Design Arts) and the University of Sydney (Master of Museum Studies).
Beth Ann Balalaos is the Access and Inclusion Manager at the Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM). Beth Ann joined the Education Department in 2014 as an intern and began managing the LICM’s IMLS funded "LICM4all" accessibility program in 2016. In this role, she oversees all aspects of accessibility and inclusivity within LICM such as Friendly Hours, Sensory Friendly Performances, the LICM4all App, staff sensitivity training, adapting and creating programming, ADA Compliance, and exhibit modifications. Beth Ann is part of LICM’s Cultural Competence Learning Institute Committee. She has developed and facilitated LICM’s first programming that focuses on the LGBTQIA Community and established its Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion Team.
Joshua Ruff is the Deputy Director and Director of Collections & Interpretation at the Long Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages, in Stony Brook. He is a graduate of Syracuse University with BAs in Broadcast Journalism and in History, and Stony Brook University with a MA in History. He has worked at the Long Island Museum for 24 years including as Curator of its History and Carriage Collections. He has curated more than 60 exhibitions, including, most recently, Fire & Form: New Directions in Glass (2021). In addition to co-authoring several books and exhibition catalogs, his articles have appeared in publications including Magazine Antiques; American Art Review; New York Archives Magazine; American History magazine.
Samantha Hall-Saladino is the Executive Director of the Fulton County Historical Society in Gloversville and serves as the Fulton County Historian. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and English from Russell Sage College and a Masters in Museum Studies from the University of New Hampshire. Over the past decade, Samantha has worked with museums across the Capital Region and along the seacoast of New Hampshire, including Strawbery Banke, the American Independence Museum, and the Albany County Historical Association at Ten Broeck Mansion. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Public Historians of NYS (APHNYS) and the Sacandaga Valley Arts Network (SVAN).
Nick Martinez is an educator, producer, podcaster, and activist, from New York City with over a decade of experience working at the intersections of museum education, youth, and workforce development, mentoring, and science. His passion is to engage and support BIPOC to pursue interests and careers in science and develop strategies for the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in traditionally non-inclusive spaces. He began his museum career as an undergraduate intern at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in the Museum Education and Employment Program, designing and leading tours of museum halls for visiting school and camp groups. After graduation, he returned to AMNH as an internship supervisor, helping to supervise the new cohort of college interns, and was later hired to teach genetics, human evolution, and neuroscience in the Hall of Human Origins Teaching Lab, first as a Lab Facilitator and then in a full-time role as the Coordinator of the Lab. He is currently Senior Manager of Youth Initiatives and manages Middle and High School programs, Internship experiences, and Alumni Engagement. He also leads recruitment, community-building, and partnership efforts to increase diversity and promote equity and inclusivity across Youth Programs at the AMNH.
Dr. Callie Johnson is an award-winning marketing, communications, and nonprofit leadership executive. At the Albright-Knox, Dr. Johnson serves in an executive role stewarding the rebranding of America’s sixth oldest art museum, which is in the process of becoming the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Dr. Johnson is the former Executive Vice President of Marketing for Girl Scouts of Western New York and a current member of the Forbes Communications Council, an invitation-only community for executives in communications, marketing, and public relations. She is the winner of two Buffalo Business First awards—40 Under 40 and 30 Under 30 —for making a difference both on the job and in the community. She is a Buffalo Niagara 360 Spotlight Professional for her career success and her commitment to strengthening the Buffalo Niagara region. She was awarded three Girl Scouts of Western New York Finance Certificates of Accomplishment and a Commitment to Excellence Award.
Diane Shewchuk was elected Board Secretary. Previous Board Secretary Becky Wehle (Genesee Country Village & Museum President and CEO) will Chair the Membership and Fundraising Committee. Emily Martz (Great Camp Sagamore Executive Director) will Chair the Advocacy Committee and Clifford Laube (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Public Program Specialist) and Natalie Stetson (Erie Canal Museum Executive Director) will co-chair the Program Committee. Eliza Kozlowski (George Eastman Museum Senior Director of Marketing & Engagement) will continue to Chair the Marketing Committee.
Suzanne LeBlanc (Long Island Children’s Museum President) will serve on the board for a one-year term as Past President.
See below for the full list of MANY board members.
Beth Ann Balalaos, Access and Inclusion Manager, Long Island Children’s Museum
Rob Cassetti, Creative Strategist, Luckystone Partners
Mariano Desmarás, Creative Director, Museum Environments
Alexandra Drakakis, Chief Acquisitions Curator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Michael Galban, Historic Site Manager and Curator, Seneca Art & Culture Center, Ganondagan State Historic Site
Georgette Grier-Key, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Eastville Community Historical Society
Samantha Hall-Saladino, Executive Director, Fulton County Historical Society
Peter Hyde, Owner, Peter Hyde Design
Dr. Callie Johnson, Director of Communications & Community Engagement, Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo AKG Art Museum)
Theodore K. Johnson, President & CEO, Hadley Exhibits Inc.
Eliza Kozlowski, Senior Director of Marketing & Engagement, George Eastman Museum
Clifford Laube Ex Officio, Public Program Specialist, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
Denise Lewis, Chief Financial Officer, Museum of Arts and Design
Suzanne LeBlanc, Past President, President, Long Island Children’s Museum
Nick Martinez, Senior Manager of Youth Initiatives, American Museum of Natural History
Emily Martz, Executive Director, Great Camp Sagamore
Melinda McTaggart, Director, Schoharie County Historical Society and Old Stone Fort Museum
Victoria Reisman, Curator, Bureau of Historic Sites, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Joshua Ruff, Deputy Director/ Director of Collections & InterpretationLong Island Museum of American Art, History & Carriages
Diane Shewchuk, Curator, Albany Institute of History & Art
Natalie Stetson, Executive Director, Erie Canal Museum
Becky Wehle, President/CEO, Genesee Country Village & Museum
Brian Lee Whisenhunt, Executive Director, The Rockwell Museum
Bruce Whitmarsh, Executive Director, The Chemung County Historical Society
Marisa Wigglesworth, President and CEO, Buffalo Museum of Science, Tifft Nature Preserve
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The Museum Association of New York helps to shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities. Visit www.nysmuseums.org and follow MANY on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @nysmuseums