How we promote the Humanities

(Hint: It takes a community!)

We foster opportunities for communities to interact and discuss issues that are important to them, in the present and looking into the future. Our programs are diverse and cover the entire state of Wyoming.

 

From community mixers like thinkWY Gatherings, to powerful presentations by Nationally acclaimed scholars, to book clubs and Smithsonian museum exhibits, Wyoming Humanities uses all the tools at our disposal to examine diverse issues from multiple perspectives. Wyoming Humanities fosters conversations between neighbors, near and far, and challenges people to ask questions about how and why we have the opinions and perspectives that we do. Specifically, we relate our programming and explorations back to the unique culture and environment of Wyoming, so that as a whole we can make informed decisions about how we live and where we want to be in the future.

 

We believe that open discussion, critical thinking, and informed opinions are vital for formulating a strong and healthy worldview which can guide us purposefully through life.

 

Beyond our specific and recurring programming, we provide financial assistance through thinkWY Community Grants to support your ideas for events and programs that dig deep into issues about which Wyoming communities care deeply. We turn to the creativity and inquisitiveness of Wyomingites to explore Humanities issues.

 

Wyoming Humanities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Cheyenne, WY, that operates on funding from both donors and state and national grants. Our major supporters include the National Endowment for the Humanities (thinkWY, formerly the Wyoming Humanities Council, is the oldest state humanities council and served as the break out successful model as the idea was scaled across the U.S.!), the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, in addition to the many supporters who support us through donations, memberships and attending our events.

 The Team

  • Shannon Smith Executive Director
    shannon@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 101

    Shannon D. Smith was appointed the sixth Executive Director for the Wyoming Humanities Council in 2013. Prior to that she was an associate director and research fellow at EDUCAUSE in Boulder, Colorado and taught history and humanities for seven years at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is a historian and author of several works on women of the American West including “Give Me Eighty Men”: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight, a 2009 book award winner from the Wyoming State Historical Society. She tweets about humanities and higher education as @Smithstorian, and continues to write about women in the West.

  • Jason Burge Eastern Wyoming Regional Director
    Jason@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 106

    Jason joined Wyoming Humanities in 2008 and has served as Communications/Programs Coordinator, Grants/Field officer, Assistant Director, and is now responsible for all programming and grants activity in Eastern Wyoming. Jason holds both a BA and MA in literature from Mississippi State University, and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Wyoming. He has taught at Mississippi State University and the University of Wyoming. He is also a musician, songwriter, and construction worker.

  • Erin Pryor Ackerman Membership and Grants Manager
    Erin@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 104

    Erin joined the staff as Membership Coordinator in 2015 and is now responsible for membership development and grants operations. Erin holds a BA in English and Biology from Lawrence University and a MA and PhD in English from Indiana University. She’s taught at Indiana University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City and has a background in writing and non-profit work.

  • Sheila Bricher-Wade Program Officer
    Sheila@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 103

    Sheila joined Wyoming Humanities in 2008 and was promoted to Program Officer in 2013. Sheila holds an MA in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. She has considerable experience with community and nonprofit organizations through her work for the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office. She taught western civilization, western history, and Wyoming history at Laramie County Community College.

  • Kathy Burman Fiscal Officer
    Kathy@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 105

    Kathy joined the staff as Fiscal Officer in January 2009. Kathy holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Indiana University and a master’s degree in sports management from The Ohio State University. She has worked as a development specialist for Multnomah school district in Oregon, director of marketing and development for Cathedral Home, and as a senior auditor for the accounting firm of KPMG in Chicago. She has volunteered her time with various organizations, most recently as treasurer for two Laramie-based youth sports leagues.

  • Emy diGrappa Western Wyoming Regional Director
    Emy@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 107

    Emy joined the staff as a Field Development Officer based in Jackson in June 2010 and is now responsible for all programming and grants activity in Western Wyoming.  Emy received a BA in journalism from California State University, Long Beach, and completed additional work in journalism from Colorado State University. She was program administrator and director for Mosaic in Motion, Inc. in Denver for ten years, marketing associate for the Santa Fe Opera, and marketing director for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. She currently works part time as the director of marketing for the Off Square Theatre Company, Jackson.

  • Josh Watanabe Assistant Director
    Josh@thinkWY.org
    307-721-9243 ext. 102

    Josh joined Wyoming Humanities in 2014 and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2016. Josh was an award-winning chef until he changed paths to finish his BA in English from the University of Wyoming where he was the editor-in-chief for the Owen Wister Review, the school’s literary journal. Under his direction, the review won the prestigious Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) Magazine Pacemaker Award for the first time in its 30+ year history and then won it again the following year. He has worked as a nightly newspaper editor, restaurant consultant, and has extensive technology, graphic design, copy editing, and management experience. He has also consulted on websites, social media, and graphic design for businesses here and in Colorado and is finishing a MS in Applied Business Theory and Project Management.

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 Join the Board

 We accept applications for Board Members year round

Direction of the council is vested in the up-to twenty members of the council who serve as the board of directors. Board members meet three to four times a year to review and provide strategic vision, oversee the budget, act on fundraising initiatives, assist with fundraising activities, and supervise the council’s role as an exemplary nonprofit organization. The council meets at various locations throughout the state.

Meetings

Board members receive online information about ten days before each meeting which allows members sufficient time to review all board information. Board members also take part in meetings of the committees and task forces of the council. There are standing committees for membership, finance, grants and executive oversight. Meetings of standing committees and task forces are conducted by conference call or in person at board meetings. In addition, board members are encouraged to attend council programs each year in order to assist with evaluation and accountability.

Financial

While board members receive no pay for their service on the council, their travel, telephone, and other expenses conducted with council business may be reimbursed. One of the functions of the board of directors is fundraising, and board members are asked to explore “friend-raising” and other sources of funding in their communities and statewide to support the council’s programs.

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