The 2024 Federation Board of Directors elected a new chair and four new members on October 28, at the 2023 Annual Business Meeting that was held in conjunction with the 2023 National Humanities Conference.

Eva Caldera; Chief Counsel, Office of Commissioner to Mary Boyle, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, has been appointed Chair of the Board for a two-year term (2024-2026). Caldera previously served a four-year term on the Federation’s Board and led the NEH Partnership Committee during that time. Dr. Terri Jett was named the new Vice Chair and Juana Guzman the new Secretary. The Federation also welcomed four new board members: Carin Berkowitz, Executive Director of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities; Jama Best, Executive Director of Arkansas Humanities Council; Jennifer Ortiz, Director of the Utah Division of State History; and Joshua Rudnik (Oglala Lakota), Assistant Professor, South Dakota State University.

Meet the New Board Members

Carin Berkowitz (NJ) establishes the strategic direction for the New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) as its Executive Director, passionately advocating for the humanities across New Jersey. She leads the efforts of NJCH’s Board and a talented staff of six to explore, cultivate, and champion the public humanities in communities around the Garden State, with a focus upon diversifying New Jersey’s remarkable cultural sector. Carin joined NJCH in 2018 after having served for eight years as the Director of Historical Research at the Science History Institute, a museum, library, and center for scholarship in Philadelphia.

Jama Best (AR) has been Executive Director of Arkansas Humanities Council since April 2018 and first joined the council in March 2003 as Program Officer, and then became Senior Program Officer. For the Council, she has led the REACH (Raising Education Achievement and Competence in the Humanities) Grant, Access to the Humanities Grant, Black History and Culture Grant, Access to the Humanities Grant, and Museum Collections and Resource Grant. In 2020, Best was nominated for Arkansas Business’ Nonprofit Executive of the Year. She has served as President of the Arkansas Museums Association and received the Best with the Peg Newton Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from that association.

Jennifer Ortiz (UT) has been the Director of the Utah Division of State History since 2021. She came to State History from Utah Division of Arts and Museums (UDAM) where she oversaw the state Museum Services Program that services Utah’s 250-plus museums through workshops, museum technical assistance, site visits, and grant funding for seven years. In addition to her state-wide work, she serves at a national level as board member for the American Association for State & Local History and as a MAP mentor for the American Alliance of Museums. Prior to working with UDAM, Jennifer served as the Collections Manager for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts managing an encyclopedic art collection of over 20,000 objects, in addition to roles at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Museum of Science, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Joshua Rudnik (SD), (Oglala Lakota) is an Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University. Rudnik completed his Ph.D. from the University of South Dakota in Creative Literary Studies with an emphasis in poetry and literary non-fiction. He received his B.A. from Metropolitan State University of Denver and M.A. from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining South Dakota State University, Rudnik served as Director of Crazy Horse Memorial’s Indian University of North America where he oversaw curriculum development and taught courses in English, Leadership, and American Indian Studies. Rudnik received the University of South Dakota’s 2021 Distinguished Dissertation Award in the humanities and fine arts category for his manuscript You Offer the Skin of Your Back.

Meet the Returning Board Members

Eva Caldera (MD), chair (2024): Eva Caldera currently serves as Chief Counsel to Commissioner Mary Boyle at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, where she provides policy and legal advice, contributing to leadership and decision-making at an essential federal agency charged with protecting the public from harmful consumer products and promoting product safety. While Chief Operating Officer/Associate Secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, she managed and modernized the central dimensions of operations (including strategic planning, programs, development, IT, finance and budget) and advanced the mission of the society as an advocate for the liberal arts and sciences in higher education. She was instrumental in sharpening the Society’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as increasing the focus on ESG in the management of the organization’s endowment. Immediately before joining ΦBK, Eva served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Chair for Partnership and Strategic Initiatives at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She oversaw a number of signature NEH initiatives, including Bridging Cultures and The Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square.

Paxton Williams (IA), immediate past 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 U.S. electoral politics for a book published by the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information in Mexico City.

Kevin Lindsey (MN), 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 (2024): James R. Burke is a former partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP, where he was 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.

Juana Guzman (IL), secretary (2024): 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), vice chair (2024):  Dr. Terri Jett has been a Professor of Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies and an affiliate faculty member of the Race, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program. She has been the Faculty Director of the Hub for Black Affairs and Community Engagement and Senior Advisor to the President at Butler University. Dr. Jett teaches has taught 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 has focused on the post-Civil Rights Movement experiences of African Americans in rural communities in the southern U.S. Her book titled “Fighting for Farming Justice: Diversity, Food Access and the USDA” (Routledge) was published in December 2020, and she is currently working on her book “Talking About Race: James Baldwin and Margaret Mead: Then and Now.” Starting April 1, Jett will start a new position as the Associate Vice-President/Senior Diversity Officer at Saint Mary’s College of California. 

Mark Y. Miyake (WA): Mark Y. Miyake, Humanities Washington Board Chair, 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. 

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.         

Miranda Restovic (LA): 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.

Stuart Rockoff (MS): Stuart Rockoff, a native of Texas, 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, Texas Humanities Board Chair, 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. endawnis has worked as an educator in public programs and in the marketing department at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. She currently works at Brown University in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative.

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

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 humanities council 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 advocate for increased investment in and engagement with the national network of humanities councils.

View the Board of Directors web page for more information.