Meet the 2021 National Humanities Conference Planning Committee

The 2021 National Humanities Conference (NHC) Planning Committee met virtually late-summer 2020 to begin work on the 2021 National Humanities Conference, scheduled to take place in Detroit, Michigan from November 11-14, 2021. The committee is chaired by Dr. Peggy McCracken, director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, and includes members from the Federation of State Humanities Councils (Federation) and National Humanities Alliance (NHA) board and staff, Michigan Humanities Council, and other state humanities council staff. This committee is responsible for developing and issuing the 2021 Call for Proposals, identifying and selecting speakers, and planning special events and tours for the 2021 National Humanities Conference.

“I am excited about working with Michigan Humanities to welcome colleagues to the Detroit meeting of the National Humanities Conference. The recent and more distant histories of Detroit and our region offer a powerful context for thinking together about how the humanities can help us create a more just and equitable world,” said Dr. Peggy McCracken, chair of the 2021 NHC Planning Committee and director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan.

The 2021 National Humanities Conference is a joint partnership between the Federation and NHA. In 2021, the conference will be hosted by the Michigan Humanities Council.

“Michigan Humanities is thrilled to be hosting the 2021 National Humanities Conference in Detroit, MI. Detroit is an amazing city, full of rich history and bursting with vigor and vitality due to its transformation. This will be a once in a lifetime experience, full of Motown, rich experiences with the Arab Chaldean community, automotive history, the grandeur of the Detroit Institute of Art, and the depth of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. We plan to make this an enriching and memorable experience for every conference attendee,” said Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, president and CEO of Michigan Humanities Council.

Following is the full list of 2021 committee members, their titles, and professional affiliations.

  • Dr. Peggy McCracken, director, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan (chair)
  • Jessica Becker, director of Digital Communications, Wisconsin Humanities
  • Dr. Melba Boyd, chair and professor of African American Studies, Wayne State University
  • Amisha Harijan, assistant manager, Detroit Public Library
  • Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, president and CEO, Michigan Humanities Council
  • Gabrielle Lyon, executive director, Illinois Humanities
  • Dr. Karen Marrero, associate professor of History, Wayne State University
  • Dr. Ann Miles, director, University Center for the Humanities, and professor of Sociology, Western Michigan University
  • David Pettyjohn, executive director, Idaho Humanities Council
  • Larry Preston, board member, Michigan Humanities Council
  • Dr. Matthew Stiffler, research and content manager, Arab American National Museum
  • Carol Taggart, director of Advancement, Michigan Humanities Council

The planning committee typically meets in person during the April planning meeting and participates in several calls throughout the year.

For any conference-related questions, please email us at