The History Department recently received this message from one of our public history graduates, Jennifer Rupp.
I graduated from the Public History department at Western Michigan University in 1998. After almost 10 years in the corporate arena, I found myself longing to be back in the humanities field. In 2007 I became executive director for the Marshall Historical Society. That position not only had me curating the three society owned museums, but also managing two of the community’s largest events—The Historic Home Tour and the Candlelight Walk Home Tour—and sitting on the city’s Tourism and Promotions committees. This position also gave me my first experience with managing a nonprofit. After three wonderful years in Marshall, I moved on to become the full time executive director of the Brass Band of Battle Creek, a world renowned musical ensemble that brings artists from all over the world to Michigan for concerts and educational outreach. In my capacity as executive director I created new programs centered on youth, incorporated humanities based programming into concerts, and changed the narrative surrounding how nonprofit performing arts ensembles approach funding and operations.
I am now pleased to announce I have taken a position with the Michigan Humanities Council as a policy and program officer. I also serve as the federal grant liaison for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Being a program officer blends all of the best parts of being in the nonprofit arena: building capacity, developing programs, impacting communities through facilitated conversations, and demonstrating how much our world today benefits from skill sets obtained through humanities studies. I feel so fortunate to have a career in a field that puts my wonderful Public History degree from WMU to work. Telling human stories allows us to build understanding and celebrate our rich history. The humanities are needed today more than ever. Keep building the human connection and examining the past. It is the road to our future.