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Change is Still Required: What's Next?

Friday, August 11, 2023

12 - 1:30 PM EST

As we all hunger for honest and authentic reflection and need to collectively acknowledge the uncertainty of our times, it is important that we retain our hopes and aspirations and take steps (even incrementally) towards positive change. Panelists will discuss current issues in the museum field from the perspective of their contributions to the recently published collection of essays Change is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum. Topics will include managing work/life balance, crafting effective communications, and creating positive, rewarding, and inclusive organizational cultures.


Marsha Semmel


Marsha Semmel Consulting, Inc.

Shivkumar Desai

Grants Officer

Columbia Museum of Art

Brian Lee Whisenhunt

Executive Director

The Rockwell Museum

Meredith Sorin Horsford

Executive Director

Historic House Trust of New York City

Marsha Semmel is an independent consultant working with nonprofits on leadership development, strategic planning, and partnerships. In 2019, she published Partnership Power: Essential Museum Strategies for Today’s Networked World, Rowman & Littlefield/AAM. Her newest book, Change Is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum, co-edited with Avi Decter and Kenneth Yellis, was published by Rowman & Littlefield/AASLH in August 2022. Semmel has served as Special Initiatives Advisor to the National Endowment for the Humanities; Senior Adviser to the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement; and Senior Adviser to the Noyce Leadership Institute. She was Adjunct Faculty for the Bank Street College Graduate program in Museum Leadership in Museum Education Program from 2015-2022. Semmel served in leadership roles at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) from 2003-13, including interim agency director, director for strategic partnerships, and deputy for museum services, and at the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1984-1996, where she was Director for Public Programs from 1993-1996. She has been President/CEO of Conner Prairie, a history museum near Indianapolis, and Women of the West Museum in Denver. She is active on numerous boards, including, currently, the Council for American Jewish Museums, Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, and the Planet Word Museum in Washington, DC.

Shivkumar Desai, also known as Shiv, is the Grants Officer at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in history, he earned his master’s degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, where he focused on museum fundraising and development. His experience in the field includes managing members and donors, raising funds for a capital campaign, putting on special events, and supporting museum-wide initiatives and programs.

Brian Lee Whisenhunt has worked in art education and museums for more than twenty years and more than anything enjoys connecting people with art. He served as director of education at the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas and was the inaugural manager of public programs for the Blanton Museum of Art when it opened in 2006. Brian then became director of the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, IN, where he oversaw their successful reaccreditation by AAM, and the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, TX, leading a $5.4M renovation of the art museum and the celebration of its 50th anniversary. In January of 2017, Brian became Executive Director of The Rockwell Museum where he is building upon their stellar reputation as a leader in arts and museum education; diversifying the collection to reflect the new focus on art about the American experience; and working to increase overall attendance to the museum, its programs and events. He is currently the Board President for the Museum Association of New York.

Meredith Sorin Horsford, Executive Director, Historic House Trustand Immediate Past Executive Director of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance overseeing the preservation of the 1784 historic structure. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, the Deputy Director and Director of Property Stewardship & Acquisitions at the Historic House Trust of NYC. Meredith holds a MA from the University of Delaware, a BA from SUNY College at Geneseo, and a certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations from New York University.

Kirsten McNally

Education Specialist

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Kirsten McNally is an Education Specialist at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Licensed in K-12 visual arts, she has worked in both school and museum settings and works to create and sustain bridges between the two. At Cooper Hewitt, she works with teens and educators to integrate design into their lives and classrooms. Prior to this, she worked as the Director of Museum Programming at Children’s Museum of the Arts and at PS 20 Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, New York.


MANY is committed to making our virtual programs as accessible as possible. All virtual programs will have ASL interpretation provided by Interpretek.

Virtual programs are made possible by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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