“Wyoming is just one small town with a very long Main Street.” This might fit the definition of a cliché—a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought—but we Wyomingites are proud of the reality that this witticism infers. We are a small state and we do know each other and, for the most part, we tend to watch out for each other. We think of ourselves as people who can “heal up and hair over;” we can have an argument and then get over it because there’s so few of us we need to be able to rely on each other and can’t carry a paralyzing grudge. Certainly, there are people who know little about and have never visited towns or people in other areas of the state, but most of the Wyomingites I’ve met have a deep love for the state and feel a connection to their fellow residents. This bond between people and between communities is strengthened by a small but mighty group of statewide organizations involved in communication, collaboration, information, and philanthropy.
Wyoming Public Media, our statewide public radio and online broadcaster, covers over 90% of Wyoming. They connect us to each other and to the rest of the nation and the world through news, music, and stories. They help us at Wyoming Humanities ensure that all our fellow citizens hear about our programs and initiatives, and they bring our work to a wider network than we could possibly reach on our own. Their team is just incredible. From General Manager Christina Kuzmych and News Director Bob Beck to their on-air crew that I’d put up against any state in the union. The team that tells the cultural stories of Wyoming have been very generous with their time and we are very grateful for them: Micah Schweitzer, Melodie Edwards, Caroline Ballard, Tennessee Watson, and Kamila Kudelska.
WyomingPBS is our state’s public television station. They tell our stories in video. Some of the most impactful work we have done in the last decade has been in partnership with WPBS. From incredible documentaries that tell the unique and fascinating stories of Wyoming, like the Storm of the Century: Blizzard of 49 or The Drift: An American Cattle Drive produced by Content Lab Media, to broadcasting panel discussions on challenging topics such as Wyoming’s Immigration Policy or Reviving Civility in Politics with Al Simpson and Mike Sullivan, our partnership with WPBS has been a powerful force in Wyoming and we are proud to call the wonderful people who comprise this organization our good friends. General Manager Terry Dugas, Promotions Manager Jennifer Amend, Production Services Manager Kyle Nicholoff and Executive Director of the WPBS Foundation, Joanna Kail.
The Wyoming State Historical Society, and WyoHistory.org our state’s permanent, interactive encyclopedia of Wyoming History, encourage the exploration of our state both in person and online. They are the humanities in action. Our collaboration with WyoHistory.org and its editor, Tom Rea, is very strong and productive. Tom (a former chair of the board of Wyoming Humanities) managed the crowdsourcing and writing of the history of the two tribes of the Wind River Reservation in our Two Nations One Reservation project.
WyoFile is our state’s independent, nonprofit, public interest online news service. They provide in-depth investigative news coverage of our entire state and region. They take on the stories that require time and diligence, something traditional news services have moved away from.
The Wyoming Arts Council board of directors and staff, led by Michael Lange and his incredible board chair Holly Turner along with the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund very strong board of directors and their Program Coordinator, Renée Bovée, and directed by the Administrator of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources Division Manager Sara Needles are our partners at the core hub of the cultural network of Wyoming. Our work supports the creative and cultural economy and we are deeply thankful to have these passionate and effective and committed people to count on during our journey.
The organizations in our network could not survive without philanthropy and professional development. The Wyoming Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter to them to create a better Wyoming. Philanthropy is a vital part of our state’s economy. The nonprofit sector could not survive without gifts from foundations and major philanthropists and WCF enables that to happen. We have an endowment fund at WCF that provides us with proceeds annually that go directly to our community development programming. WCF also produces the Wyoming Nonprofit Conference where the state’s nonprofits come together to learn and share best practices in order to better serve Wyoming. The Wyoming Nonprofit Network represents the collective voice of the Wyoming charitable nonprofit sector and brings best practices, resources and support to the nonprofit community enabling us all to fulfill our missions. They are our advocates at the state and national level and they are a resource and support system to this very significant part of our state’s economy and environment. The philanthropic and nonprofit sector are an often-overlooked part of what keeps our society together—please take a moment to think of and thank the people who give to and work in the nonprofit world. In America, and in Wyoming, we are blessed with such a strong giving and doing sector.
For five years we’ve partnered with the Wyoming Business Alliance to bring humanities and ethics topics to their Governor’s Business Forum. It’s our chance to engage with the statewide network of businesses of all sizes and to directly connect our work with economic stability and diversification. President Cindy Delancey is devoted to Wyoming and to the betterment of conditions for businesses of all sizes to thrive in all our state’s communities. We are proud to have many board and staff members who have been part of the incredible Leadership Wyoming program and grateful for the strong, creative, visionary leadership that Cindy and LW Executive Director Mandy Fabel bring to our state.
These statewide organizations have vastly different missions and purposes but one thing they have in common is that their work binds us together. They think of the state holistically and they all tell our stories in such a way that finds the common ground that makes Wyoming strong. Wyoming Humanities partners with each and every one of these organizations in a unique and for unique purposes; we are so thankful to count these organizations and their staffs as our friends and collaborators and look forward to working with them in 2019.