Introducing the New Chair and Members Elected to the 2020 Federation Board of Directors

November 10, 2019

New Chair and Members Elected to Federation of State Humanities Council Board of Directors
Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island Represented

November 10, 2019 – [Rosslyn, VA] The Federation of State Humanities Councils announces the election of five new board members and a new chair to its board of directors, effective November 9, 2019. Federation board treasurer Susan McCarthy will begin her term as chair of the board immediately. The Federation board chair serves a two-year term and then remains on the board as immediate past chair for an additional two years. The five new board members include two humanities council executive directors, from Arizona Humanities and Idaho Humanities Councils, and three public members, representing backgrounds in law, government and public affairs, and Indigenous culture and education.

“The Federation is committed to maintaining a diverse, well-rounded board that will effectively navigate the opportunities and challenges facing the state humanities councils,” said Esther Mackintosh, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. “From varied backgrounds, including that of finance, law, nonprofit management, government, native communities, and education, these newly elected members represent an impressive array of skills, talents, and backgrounds.  In particular, we are especially fortunate to welcome Susan McCarthy as our new board chair. With a distinguished background in finance, a former member of the OK Humanities’ board of directors and our current board treasurer, Susan is an asset to the Federation and the council community. We are confident in her ability to lead and respond to the needs of our membership.”

About the Elected Chair and Board Members:

Susan McCarthy is an author, speaker, and financial advisor based in Oklahoma City, OK. She retired from a 33-year career as a financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors and, before that, Morgan Stanley. She has published two books, including More than Wealth (DKS Publishing, 2005) and The Value of Money (New York: Penguin, 2008) and is a frequent speaker on topics related to the complicated emotional relationship with money.  In 2006, she was named as one of Barron’s “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors” in the country. She has served on the board of OK Humanities for several years. Recently, McCarthy served as the treasurer of the Federation board of directors Finance Committee.

James 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 that, Burke was a partner at WilmerHale (previously Hale and Dorr LLP), where he practiced law for nearly 19 years. Burke 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. He was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the Concord Museum in Concord, MA and currently sits on the board of directors of Actors’ Shakespeare Project, which is a Boston-based professional theatre company.

Eva Caldera is the associate secretary/chief operating officer of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Before joining Phi Beta Kappa in 2017, she served in the Obama Administration at the National Endowment for the Humanities as assistant chairman for Partnership and Strategic Initiatives. Caldera was a core member of the NEH senior leadership team for nearly eight years and was responsible for the agency’s signature initiatives promoting the public humanities, including “Bridging Cultures” and “The Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square.” She also launched “Standing Together,” NEH’s special initiative focused on the experience of veterans.

David Pettyjohn is the executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council. Prior to joining the council in 2018, he served as executive director of Preservation Oklahoma, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and coordinating historic preservation activities in the state. Before Preservation Oklahoma, he served 11 years (2001-2012) as a program officer and later, as assistant director for the Oklahoma Humanities Council. He holds both B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Tulsa.

endawnis Spears is the director of outreach and programming and a founding member of the Akomawt Educational Initiative, an Indigenous education and interpretive consultancy that collaborates with K-12 schools, universities, and public history institutions. Spears has worked as an educator in public programs and in the marketing department at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. She 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.

Brenda Thomson is the executive director of Arizona Humanities. Before joining the council in 2010, Thomson 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 the executive director of the Maricopa County Bar Association. Prior to her nonprofit career, she practiced law for several years with the Urban Indian Law office in Phoenix and corporate law with Cooley Godward in Palo Alto, CA. She has clerked for a federal judge, worked as a Congressional intern, and volunteered to promote justice and equal rights. She currently serves as treasurer for the Hance Park Conservancy and on the Executive Committee of the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.

To read more about the Federation Board of Directors, please visit:

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

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:


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