Laramie, WY – October 29, 2020 –
The Board of Directors of Wyoming Humanities, a 501c3 nonprofit and Wyoming’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971, announces the appointment of Shawn Reese as the organization’s seventh Executive Director and CEO, effective November 1, 2020. Shannon Smith, the current ED/CEO, will assume a one-year appointment as Executive Director Emeritus.
Since January, Reese has served as Wyoming Humanities’ Chief Operating Officer, leading the organization’s strategic planning, programming, finance, and administrative functions. Prior to joining the organization, Reese served as CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, the state’s economic development agency, where he was recognized for his strategic planning skills and building a strong team to identify and serve the unique needs of Wyoming’s communities. “Shawn is well known for his expertise in leading community and economic development,” said Rev. Dr. Bernadine Craft, chair of Wyoming Humanities’ Board of Directors, “what is less known is his commitment to using the humanities, culture, and art to create a vibrant and resilient society. We are excited for him to continue Shannon’s work in establishing Wyoming Humanities as the leader of the state’s cultural infrastructure.”
“Shawn was hired with this succession strategy in mind” said Smith, who will support Reese’s leadership transition and focus on several key advancement projects for the organization. “The pandemic and its acceleration of Wyoming’s economic downturn have proven the value of this decision. Shawn is the right person to strengthen our state’s cultural infrastructure and use the humanities and cultural arts to facilitate the important conversations Wyoming needs to have today.”
Milward Simpson, Chair-Elect of Wyoming Humanities’ Board of Directors, believes Reese will be a great leader of the creative economy. “As the former Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, I understand the positive economic impact of our state’s cultural arts community. We believe this creative sector can be deployed to help Wyoming diversify and strengthen our economy and Shawn is uniquely qualified to drive this effort.”
“Wyoming Humanities is laser focused on helping our state explore the challenges that will come with the next decade,” said Reese. “For fifty years, this organization has presented Wyomingites with opportunities to learn about our past, understand our present, and plan for our future. I am honored to be entrusted with the leadership of our state’s humanities council as we create Wyoming’s new normal together.”
Reese earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and studied in the Masters of Planning program at the University of Wyoming. He and his family relocated to Laramie in 2019 where his wife, Amiee, works for the UW Foundation.
About Wyoming Humanities
Wyoming Humanities is the Wyoming affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is one of 55 state humanities councils. Conceived by a group of University of Wyoming leaders in 1970 and approved by the NEH in 1971, Wyoming Humanities is the oldest state humanities council. Their mission is to use the public humanities to strengthen Wyoming’s democracy, expand the Wyoming narrative, and promote engaged communities. Wyoming Humanities is an independent nonprofit funded by the NEH, a state legislative appropriation, corporate and foundation grants, and private donations. Wyoming Humanities is headquartered in Laramie with an office in Jackson’s Center for the Arts. To learn more about Wyoming Humanities, visit www.thinkwy.org.