Phoebe Stein Named New President of the Federation of State Humanities Councils by the Federation Board of Directors

Phoebe Stein will succeed Esther Mackintosh as president effective May 1, 2020

[Arlington, VA] – The Federation of State Humanities Councils Board of Directors announced today that Phoebe Stein, current executive director of Maryland Humanities, will succeed Esther Mackintosh as the new president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils effective May 1, 2020. Mackintosh will stay on as president until the end of April. The nationwide search was managed by an independent executive search firm.

“We are very pleased that Phoebe Stein will be succeeding Esther Mackintosh as Federation President,” said Susan McCarthy, chair of the Federation Board of Directors. “With her years of experience in the humanities nationwide and her deep and long work in the council community, Phoebe is uniquely qualified to carry on the important work of the Federation. We believe she will build upon Esther’s impressive legacy.”

Stein has served as the executive director for Maryland Humanities since 2008 and as an advocate for the humanities at local, state, and federal levels for more than 20 years. During her tenure, Stein has expanded the council’s partnerships and resources and hosted a radio spot, “Humanities Connection,” while advancing several of the council’s flagship programs, including Maryland History Day, Museum on Main Street, and One Maryland One Book. She served on the Federation Board of Directors from 2013 to 2017 as both vice chair and as a member of the Legislative Committee. In 2016, she was recognized as one of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women” by The Daily Record.  Before joining the Maryland council, Stein was the director of public affairs and the communications coordinator at the Illinois Humanities Council, now called Illinois Humanities. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in English from Loyola University of Chicago and her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan.

“Phoebe Stein has a passion for the public humanities, a deep understanding of the state humanities councils, a keen political sense, and the respect of her colleagues throughout the humanities community—all qualities that make her an outstanding choice to be the president of the Federation,” said retiring President Esther Mackintosh. “Under her leadership, the Federation will unquestionably achieve new heights in the coming years.”

“I am tremendously excited and honored to join the Federation of State Humanities Councils team,” said Phoebe Stein. “Our 55 member humanities councils demonstrate the power of bringing the indispensable lens of the humanities—literature, history, ethics, philosophy and more—to bear on the joys and challenges of our everyday lives. I look forward to working with the Federation’s board and staff, member councils, and partners to thoughtfully chart our path forward.”

Stein added, “As a result of Esther’s remarkable leadership, the Federation is strong and well-poised to respond to the opportunities and challenges of our humanities community. I am eager to continue and expand the organization’s capabilities to address the needs of its members and its many fruitful partnerships. The future is bright for the Federation because of its vitally important impact in our nation.”

The Federation of State Humanities Councils

The Federation of State Humanities Councils, founded in 1977 as the membership association of state and territorial councils, provides support for the state humanities councils and strives to create greater awareness of the humanities in public and private life. For more information about the Federation of State Humanities Councils, please visit:

The state humanities councils are independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations supporting grassroots humanities programs and community-based activities. Humanities councils were created by Congress in the early 1970s and receive an annual congressional appropriation through the National Endowment for the Humanities, which most councils supplement with state and private funding. For more information about the state humanities councils, please visit: