New Chair and Members Elected to Federation Board of Directors

November 8, 2015

New Chair and Members Elected to Federation of State Humanities Council Board of Directors
The States of Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington Represented in Newly Elected Members

The Federation of State Humanities Councils is pleased to announce the election of Peter Torkildsen as chair and four new members to its board of directors, effective November 7, 2015. The board members include three humanities council executive directors and one public member.

“Having recently served as the Federation’s vice chair and with expertise and knowledge of Congress, coupled with his passion for the humanities, Peter is an asset to the Federation board and to our members. We have the greatest confidence in his ability to lead the board and address the needs of the membership,” said Esther Mackintosh, Federation of State Humanities Councils President. “We couldn’t be happier with the array of experience, perspective and talent reflected in the newly elected members.”

About the Elected Chair and Board Members:

Peter Torkildsen is a Government Affairs and Business Development Consultant and former member of the US House of Representatives (1993-1997) from Massachusetts. As a Republican member of the House, Torkildsen spoke out in favor of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and spearheaded the first ever “Dear Colleague” letter to gather support for the humanities among both Republicans and Democrats. Since then, he has continued to work closely with Mass Humanities and the Federation.

Ken Egan is the executive director of Humanities Montana. Prior to joining the council in 2009, Egan served on the council board and as chair of the Department of English at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Egan has been the recipient of Fulbright grants and has authored book-length critical studies of nineteenth-century American and Montana literature. In 2014 he published Montana 1864: Indians, Emigrants and Gold in the Territorial Year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Montana Territory and raise funds for Humanities Montana.

Thomas Chavez, the only public member elected this year, is a historian, author and educator, having served recently as director of the Palace of Governors (New Mexico’s state history museum). Chavez was also the director of the New Mexico Preservation Alliance, president of the New Mexico Association of Museums and the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. He has taught courses at the College of Santa Fe and served on the board of directors for the Smithsonian Institution Latino Center. An experienced fundraiser, he was a central figure in helping raise $26 million for the planning and construction of the New Mexico History Museum. To date, Chavez has published over nine books.

Peter Gilbert is the executive director of Vermont Humanities and frequent commentator on Vermont Public Radio. Prior to joining the council, Gilbert was the senior assistant to the president at Dartmouth College and taught English and American History at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts. Under Gilbert’s guidance, Vermont Humanities presented the five-year long program, “Civil War Book of Days,” a weekly email series detailing the history of each week of the Civil War. Gilbert received the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Saint Michael’s College in 2014.

Julie Ziegler is the executive director of Humanities Washington. Prior to joining the council as the executive director, Ziegler served eight years as a council trustee and held a variety of council board leadership positions. In addition to her council work, Ziegler managed the national grants program and several grassroots programs at Safeco Insurance and was the Northwest Regional Manager of the Bank of America Foundation. She has also volunteered for nonprofit organizations such as ArtsFund, Philanthropy Northwest, United Way of King County, Leadership Tomorrow, and Powerful Schools.

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: