The 2023 Federation Board of Directors welcomed two new board members on November 12: Miranda Restovic, President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and Leo G. Pangelinan, Executive Director of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council. These directors, who were elected at the 2022 Annual Business Meeting that was held in conjunction with the National Humanities Conference, join 14 other board members who are continuing their terms in 2023. Kevin Lindsey, Chief Executive Officer of Minnesota Humanities Center, was named the new Vice Chair, and David Pettyjohn, Executive Director of Idaho Humanities Council, was named the new Secretary.

The Federation board includes public members as well as council executive directors from states and territories across the nation. Each board member serves a four-year term. The board chair serves a two-year term and remains for another two years as the immediate past chair. Federation members participate in a nominating process early in the year and elect their representatives to the Federation Board at the Annual Business Meeting. This all-volunteer board is devoted to the Federation’s mission to represent and strengthen the state humanities councils, attending to organizational governance, member needs, and legislative strategy throughout the year.

Meet the New Board Members

Miranda Restovic (Louisiana): Miranda Restovic is the President and Executive Director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Executive Director of PRIME TIME, and the Publisher of 64 Parishes Magazine. She has forged national and local partnerships, such as those with the Smithsonian Institution; Blue Star Families; the Louisiana Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism; Louisiana’s regional arts councils, and now with The Helis Foundation. Miranda has led the LEH through strategic expansion of humanities-based programming designed with and for Louisianans. This expansion now includes The Helis Foundation John Scott Center.

Leo Pangelinan (Northern Marianas): Leo Pangelinan was hired to lead the Northern Marianas Humanities Council as its executive director in 2018. In addition to fulfilling the Council’s mission to navigate the human experiences of the indigenous and diverse peoples of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Pangelinan actively participates in regional and national activities to advance the humanities. In 2019, Pangelinan co-hosted the National Humanities Conference together with his colleagues from the three other Pacific regional councils. In the past two years, he has served on the FSHC’s Presidential Search Committee and NEH Formula Working Group. In 2021, Pangelinan participated on a panel hosted by America 250 to promote awareness of U.S. jurisdictions and perspectives on the commemoration and celebration of the U.S. Semiquincentennial.          

Meet the Returning Board Members

Paxton Williams (IA), board chair (2021-2023): Paxton Williams is an attorney, former non-profit executive, and actor/playwright/producer who believes in the power of the humanities to connect, convince, challenge, and change. From 2005 to 2009, Williams was executive director of the George Washington Carver Birthplace Association, a non-profit organization that works to advance Carver’s historical, scientific, and educational legacy through its support of the National Park Service at Carver National Monument and other programming. Williams has continued to support and share Carver’s legacy by serving as associate producer for the Iowa PBS documentary on Carver; serving as content expert on the National Geographic Reader series book on Carver; and by speaking to media such as National Public Radio and the Royal Horticultural Society’s podcast. Additionally, Williams co-authored a chapter on US electoral politics for a book published by the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information in Mexico City.

Susan McCarthy (CA), immediate past chair (2021-2023): Susan McCarthy is an author, speaker and financial advisor based in Oklahoma City, OK. She has recently retired from a 33-year career as financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors and, before that, Morgan Stanley. Her clients included individuals and non-profit organizations throughout the United States and abroad. In 2006, she was named as one of Barron’s “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors” in the country. She served on the board of Oklahoma Humanities for several years, acting as chair from 2013-2015 and also as treasurer and head of the Finance committee. Before that, she served on the Foundation board at the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma.

Kevin Lindsey (MN), vice chair (2023): Kevin Lindsey, J.D. is the executive director of the Minnesota Humanities Center. A widely respected advocate and lawyer with a wealth of experience in public policy and education reform and a proven change-maker, Lindsey has focused his career on finding solutions to complex issues and strengthening institutions. Lindsey has a passion for inclusion for all, building a stronger democracy, and leveraging the power of personal stories.

Jim Burke (MA), treasurer (2023): James R. Burke is a partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, where he has been a Boston-based member of the corporate and business group since 2010. Prior to joining Hinckley Allen, Jim was a partner at WilmerHale (previously Hale and Dorr LLP), where he practiced law for nearly 19 years. Jim is a member of the Boston Bar Association (BBA), where he has served as a member of the BBA’s Education Committee and as Chair of the BBA’s Business Transactions Section. Jim was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts and currently sits on the Board of Directors of Actors’ Shakespeare Project, which is a Boston-based professional theatre company. 

David Pettyjohn, secretary (2023): David Pettyjohn became the Executive Director of the Idaho Humanities Council in January 2018. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director of Preservation Oklahoma, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and coordinating historic preservation activities in the state. Prior to joining Preservation Oklahoma, he served 11 years (2001-2012) as Program Officer and later as Assistant Director for the Oklahoma Humanities Council. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Tulsa. He resides in Boise with his husband, Geoffrey, and two miniature schnauzers, Haskell and Fiyero. 

Eva Caldera (MD): Eva Caldera is the Associate Secretary/Chief Operating Officer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. She oversees the Society’s operations and collaborates with staff, leaders, and members to shape programs, member engagement, advocacy and outreach that advance the organization’s mission: to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. 

Juana Guzman (IL): For more than 40 years, Juana Guzman has served as a nationally acclaimed consultant, manager, and fundraising and earned income specialist to non-profit organizations, museums, and corporate and philanthropic sectors throughout the United States. Guzman has served on the board of directors for Illinois Humanities and on the board of directors for 3Arts, an advisory board member for (formerly Clear Channel), and is a volunteer for Mujeres Latinas en Accion, which serves women impacted by domestic violence. In 2017, Guzman received the Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award in Washington, DC.  

Terri Jett (IN): Dr. Terri Jett is a professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity. Dr. Jett teaches courses on U.S. politics with a focus on the experiences of African Americans and other ethnic minorities such as Black Political Thought and The Politics of Alice Walker. Her research focus is on the post-Civil Rights Movement experiences of African Americans in rural communities in the southern U.S. and she is currently writing on the recent discrimination settlements of Black, Native American, Women and Latino farmers against the United States Department of Agriculture for discrimination and revisiting the conversation that James Baldwin held with Margaret Mead on race 50 years ago. Her expected books are titled “Fighting for Farming Justice: Diversity, Food Access and the USDA” and “Talking About Race: James Baldwin and Margaret Mead Then and Now.”

Mark Y. Miyake (WA): Mark Y. Miyake is an Assistant Professor of Music and Society at Fairhaven College and leads the program in Audio Technology, Music, and Society at Western Washington University. He also currently serves on the boards of Humanities Washington, the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions (the Washington State agency charged with supporting community and traditional arts in the state), and Make. Shift Art Space (Bellingham’s primary non-profit all-ages space for music and art). He holds a rotating executive position with the Northwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Miyake has also recently served on several major awards and grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Stuart Rockoff (MS): Stuart Rockoff, a native of Texas, Stuart Rockoff received a BA in History from Wesleyan University in 1991. He then earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in immigration, race, and American Jewish history. He then spent over 11 years as the director of the History Department at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was responsible for creating the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities. He has written and lectured widely on the history of Jews in the American South. In 2013, he became just the third executive director in the history of the Mississippi Humanities Council, following in the large footsteps of Dr. Cora Norman and Dr. Barbara Carpenter. 

John Phillip Santos (TX): John Phillip Santos, who serves on the Texas Humanities Board, is a writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker from San Antonio, Texas. His two memoirs, “Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation” (a National Book Award Finalist) and “The Farthest Home is in an Empire of Fire,” together tell the ancestral stories of his mother and father’s families, an American origin story of the centuries-long migrations that emerged out of Spain, Mexico, and the lands that became South Texas. His book of poems is “Songs Older Than Any Known Singer.” 

endawnis Spears (RI): endawnis Spears (Diné/ Ojibwe/ Chickasaw/ Choctaw) is impassioned about the diverse and complex intersections of Native American narratives and museums. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Denver. endawnis has worked for the Heard Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, the Narragansett Indian Tribe and was a Peabody Essex Museum Native American Arts and Culture Fellow. She is the Director of Outreach and Programming and founding member of the Akomawt Educational Initiative, an Indigenous education and interpretive consultancy that collaborates with K-12 schools, universities and public history institutions. 

Brenda Thomson (AZ): Brenda Thomson became Executive Director of Arizona Humanities in March 2010. She was delighted to share her knowledge and experience in development, human resources, public speaking, community relations, and strategic planning. She is committed to promoting diversity, equity, access and inclusion through the humanities. She is inspired by the rich history of the people and places of Arizona. Prior to joining Arizona Humanities, Brenda served as the director of The Center for Law Leadership and Management at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and was executive director of the Maricopa County Bar Association. 

Sherry Paula Watkins (NC): Sherry Paula Watkins is the executive director of North Carolina Humanities Council. Prior to the North Carolina Humanities Council, she served as the assistant director and South Carolina Book Festival Director at the Humanities Council SC. A Hartsville, SC native, Watkins joined the staff at The Humanities Council SC in October of 2001 in the role of Finance and Business Manager. She brought two national programs to The Humanities Council SC in 2004: Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare and the traveling Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibition Barn Again