Guest Speakers

The Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and Iowa Museum Association (IMA) are thrilled to announce the 2017 Annual Conference guest speakers!



Director’s Breakfast Keynote Speaker

M. Jessica Rowe
Director, Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation
M. Jessica Rowe is director of the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation where she directs, administers, coordinates and implements the public art program. Rowe has distinguished herself as a leader working to build and strengthen community partnerships through programs of national and global significance. A former art museum director, she has administered multi-million dollar operations in the visual arts. During her tenure as Director of the Blanden Memorial Art Museum, she led institutional change, cultivated stakeholders to garner national standing for the museum, organized major art exhibitions, and launched a comprehensive conservation program for its diverse permanent collections.In 1987, she was recruited to the Des Moines Art Center where she accomplished ambitious and mission-building agendas.

Iowa Creative Community Flash Talks, presented by Grinnell College

Mat Greiner
Co-Founder, Chicken Tractor, Des Moines, IA

As a curator, educator, and arts advocate, Mat Greiner’s energies are focused on enriching the visual arts ecosystem in central Iowa and the immediate Midwest. He is the executive director of Chicken Tractor, an arts nonprofit with a variety of programs that offer training, financial, and network support to local artists. The needs to connect Midwest arts professionals, gain fair value for arts labor, and improve access and engagement for under-served populations guide all of Chicken Tractor’s efforts. Greiner curates and advises regionally, and he serves with the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation’s temporary public art efforts.
Jen Leatherby

Head Designer, RAYGUN
Started as a t-shirt shop in downtown Des Moines, RAYGUN has become the greatest store in the universe and active Midwestern cheerleader. In addition to shirts and accessories, RAYGUN even wrote and illustrated the book, ‘The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth,’ which has sold over 10,000 copies. Jennifer Leatherby is the Head Designer at Raygun and does other stuff.

Trisha Okamoto
Director, Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum, Clarinda, IA
After living in the Los Angeles area for over 15 years, Trish Okamoto returned home to southwest Iowa to become curator of the Nodaway Valley Historical Museum and Executive Director of the Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum (CCAM), both nonprofits. She shares her time with husband Tom (an import from Los Angeles) and two teenage children. She is a technology enthusiast and author of the book “Images of America ” Clarinda (Arcadia Publishing). Trish has created a career that combines two of her passions, HISTORY, and ART.
Jordan Weber
Artist and Activist, Des Moines, IA
Jordan J. Weber is an artist and activist. His mixed media work explores the issues of consumer culture as they relate to the identities of young African American men. Often constructed from repurposed materials such as old basketball goals, athletic shoes and plywood used to board up condemned houses, Weber’s work challenges the notion of materialism as a remedy for poverty and despair. He is a recipient of an Artist’s Fellowship from the Iowa Arts Council and a grant from the African American Leadership Forum. Weber has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Rome, Tokyo, and Torino and in major cities throughout the United States including Chicago, Minneapolis, Brooklyn and Omaha. Additionally, he has completed public mural projects in Paris and Amsterdam. Weber is recipient of a Tanne Foundation Grant, 2016 Joan Mitchell nominee, 2016 USA Artist nominee and 2017 McColl Center for Arts fellow.
Sherry Gupta
Executive Director, CultureAll, Des Moines, IA
Sherry Gupta founded CultureALL in 2005 with a passion for engaging Iowans in actively learning about other world cultures. She was born in a mostly Caucasian farming community near Grinnell, Iowa, where she developed an interest in diversity and global perspectives, obtaining a college degree in Anthropology and achieving certification as an Intercultural Communications Professional. Through CultureALL™, Ms. Gupta recruits Iowans with cultural knowledge and expertise, and trains them to facilitate cultural experiences that spark students’ curiosities to learn more about culture; she helps educators incorporate culture into their curriculum; and she empowers students to shift perspectives, exploring new concepts and processes so they may discover new things about themselves, their classmates and the world around them. It is her hope that cultural experiences open students’ minds — and hearts — and that they celebrate who they are, while honoring others as well.
Nicolas Hartmann
Director of Learning and Civic Engagement, National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, IA
Prior to moving to Iowa, Nic Hartmann worked as a public folklorist in several locations, including Kentucky, Arizona and the Canadian province of Newfoundland. In 2014, Nic was the Folklife Initiatives Fellow for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, and in 2015, received the Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. A graduate of Indiana University and Western Kentucky University, Nic received his Ph.D. in 2016 from the Department of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His professional interests include intercultural engagement within museums, the intersection of humanities and civic education, and the incorporation of folk and traditional arts into K-12 education.

FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2017

Keynote Speaker

Corine Wegener
Smithsonian Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer
Corine Wegener is the Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer in the Office of the Provost/Under Secretary for Museums and Research at the Smithsonian Institution and leads the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI). Since 2010, SCRI has provided disaster recovery assistance and training for colleagues from Haiti, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Mali, Nepal, and the U.S. Prior to the Smithsonian, Cori was an associate curator in the department of Decorative Arts, Textiles and Sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. A retired major in the U.S. Army Reserve, Wegener served on several international peacekeeping and military deployments during her career, including as an Arts, Monuments and Archives officer in Baghdad after the looting of the Iraq National Museum. That experience led Wegener to found the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, the U.S. branch of an international organization to support the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict. She also chairs the International Council of Museums Disaster Risk Management Committee and serves as a board member of the U.S. Committee of the International Council of Museums.



Closing Presentation and Plenary Speaker

Paula Gangopadhyay
Deputy Director, Office of Museum Services, IMLS
Paula Gangopadhyay was appointed as the Deputy Director, Office of Museum Services in January 2016. In her current role she collaborates with IMLS’s senior leadership on agency priorities, policies and partnerships, and provides leadership and direction for the museum grants and special initiatives. Over her professional career of more than twenty years, she has worked in small, medium and large museums and cultural organizations, as well as government, business and education sectors, where she led systemic change and positive community impact at local, state and national levels. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Museum and Library Services Board in 2012, and served for three years from 2012-2015. Ms. Gangopadhyay is a respected thought-leader on innovation in education and has been the recipient of several state and national awards and recognitions. Ms. Gangopadhyay has held a variety of positions including, serving most recently as the Chief Learning Officer at The Henry Ford.
Spencer Crew
Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American, and Public History
George Mason University
Spencer Crew has worked in public history institutions for more than twenty-five years.  He served as president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for six years and worked at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution for twenty years. Nine of those years he served as the director of NMAH.  At each of those institutions he sought to make history accessible to the public through innovative and inclusive exhibitions and public programs. His most important exhibition was the groundbreaking “Field to Factory: Afro-American Migration 1915 – 1940” which generated a national discussion about migration, race, and creating historical exhibitions.    He also co-curated “The American Presidency A Glorious Burden” which is one of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibitions. Most recently Crew was guest curator for one of the permanent history exhibition “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation “ at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.