In 1973, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) formed the Maryland Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy, which later incorporated as Maryland Humanities in 1977. Exclusively a grant‐making organization for its first 20 years, Maryland Humanities began conducting its own public humanities programs in the ‘90s while continuing to award grants to provide vital support to public humanities programs in Maryland. In 2014, Maryland Humanities reaffirmed its commitment to education and adopted its current mission: to create and support educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. Maryland Humanities envisions a Maryland where the humanities are understood as central to everyday life because they help everyone reflect on the past, understand the present, and shape the future.
Across all of its work, Maryland Humanities engages with numerous partners in every county in Maryland, including K–12 public schools, libraries, museums, historic sites, senior centers, correctional facilities, and hospitals through the following programs:
- Grants – Cash awards up to $10,000 to community organizations to support projects that use the humanities to engage diverse groups and individuals in public programming such as exhibits, community dialogues, and documentary films
- One Maryland One Book – An opportunity for individuals of diverse backgrounds to read the same book, then have book-centered discussions in schools, libraries, senior centers, correctional facilities, and other venues
- Maryland History Day – A friendly competition where students in grades 6–12 explore a relevant historical theme through in-depth research and creative presentation
- Museum on Main Street – A collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils that brings high-quality traveling exhibits to small-town cultural venues
- Chautauqua – A series of interactive living history performances by actor-scholars, followed by lively Q&A, held at different venues across Maryland
- Veterans Programs – Programs for military veterans, active military, and the public that use the humanities to explore the history, experiences, and the meaning of war and military service
- Maryland Center for the Book – An affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress supporting programs that celebrate reading, literacy, libraries, and Maryland’s literary heritage, including participation in book festivals and the Literary Mount Vernon Walking Tour
- Humanities Connection – A monthly radio program that welcomes guest contributors to explore the role of the humanities in daily life
Governed by a 28-member Board of Directors that meets quarterly – 60% of whom have served for two or more years – Maryland Humanities operates with a balanced budget of $1.8M and a full-time staff of 15. The majority of funding (99%) is contributed income, roughly comprised of federal grants (60%), state/local grants (25%), and private contributions (15%). At present there are cash reserves equivalent to more than 5-1/2 months of operational costs.
To learn more about the organization, visit https://www.mdhumanities.org/ .
- Maryland Humanities has been accredited since 2009 by Maryland Nonprofit’s Standards of Excellence Institute for meeting rigorous standards of ethics and accountability. Upon recertification in 2019, it was commended for planning strategically, clear and concise decision making, and demonstrating board effectiveness.
- The NEH’s latest intensive evaluation and site visit (2015), conducted every five years, stated: “The site team’s assessment, in a word, is that the Maryland Humanities Council is extraordinary. The staff and Board have an understanding of, and commitment to, the humanities that has resulted in outstanding programs and initiatives across the state. It consistently reaches out to diverse audiences: geographic, racial, and economic.”
- In the 2018–19 academic year, nearly 26,000 students participated in the year-long historical research competition, Maryland History Day, at the school, county, and state levels. Howard County 8th-grader Addie Skillman was the latest national gold medal winner from Maryland, for her interpretative performance, “Loving v. Virginia: The Stepping Stone for Equality in America.”
- Between October 2018 and April 2019, Maryland Humanities presented Is Justice Just?, a series of discussions focused on justice reform that included a conversation on community policing, an interview with a wrongfully convicted citizen, a lecture on the effects of mass incarceration on families, and a documentary screening on the death penalty.
- In 2019, Humanities Connection, Maryland Humanities’ weekly podcast and monthly radio series, celebrated its sixth anniversary with segments focused on powerful topics such as Black History and Youth, the Power of LGBTQ Storytelling, Día de los Muertos, Journalism and Poetry in Baltimore Neighborhoods, and many more.
- From May 2019 to March 2020, Maryland Humanities tours its sixth Museum on Main Street collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution—Water/Ways—to six small communities throughout Maryland.
- One Maryland One Book celebrated its 12th year of programming in 2019 with Mona Hanna-Attisha’s What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, an inspirational true story that recounts Dr. Mona’s fight to prove how Flint's water was exposing children to lead.
- In recent years, Maryland Humanities’ annual total of grants awarded has increased from $95,100 in 2015 to $168,814 in 2019. Since 2014, Maryland Humanities has awarded 145 grants to 109 organizations in 19 counties and Baltimore City, for a total of $749,244.
Maryland Humanities is in its final year of Vision 2020, a six-year Strategic Plan that seeks to serve a broader, more proportionally representative cross-section of the Maryland population, increase its local presence throughout the state, dramatically expand its reach, and quantitatively demonstrate the impact of its work. Five strategic imperatives provide the framework for this plan:
- Offer a variety of programs for diversified audiences
- Provide leadership in the public humanities field
- Build organizational capacity and funding
- Invest in further collaborations and partnerships
- Raise visibility and presence
In 2018, as the plan entered its last phase, the Board of Directors and staff identified a few final areas of key focus, including the creation of a formal process for both developing new programs and evaluating existing programs; creation and expansion of regional humanities networks; and the first-phase launch of an initiative to ensure racial equity in Maryland Humanities’ operations and programming.
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director works closely with each Board
Committee and supervises directly or indirectly all other staff to maintain every aspect of the organization’s work.
The Executive Director will:
- Provide vision and intellectual vigor for the activities and directions of Maryland Humanities.
- Provide statewide leadership for the public humanities and promote public understanding and appreciation of the humanities in Maryland.
- Lead high-level fundraising activities including major individual giving, grants from foundations and corporations, corporate sponsorships, special campaigns, and more; secure and protect public funding for the organization, including advocacy for federal and state funding.
- Increase visibility for Maryland Humanities both in Baltimore and beyond, with approximately 50% of time spent out of the office engaged in public programs and events, as well as meetings with partners, public officials, and funders.
- Represent Maryland Humanities as a leader in lifelong learning in the humanities to agencies, organizations, public officials, and the general public.
- Build on and advance Maryland Humanities’ work deepening its commitment to racial equity; continue to seek ways to reach diverse audiences and implement programs in ways that center principles of equity and inclusion.
- Facilitate partnerships with stakeholders on all levels, including government. Serve as a liaison with the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), including organizing and executing Maryland Humanities’ self-assessment and three-day site visit every five years conducted by NEH.
- Monitor state and national policy in the humanities, and initiate appropriate action in response to changes. Monitor all organization communications including enews, radio program, website, and more.
- Oversee the day-to-day administration of the organization, including major contracts with all vendors and subcontractors.
- Manage the budget and ensure compliance with federal and state funding regulations.
- Oversee all aspects of staffing, including recruitment, training, retention, and evaluation.
- Collaborate with the Board and its committees to develop, implement, and evaluate policies, programs, and strategic and long-term plans for Maryland Humanities.
- Keep board members engaged and informed on all that happens with the organization; build collaborative relationship with the Board.
Skills and Attributes
The next Executive Director must share the organization’s belief that the power of lifelong learning in the humanities creates thoughtful citizens who have the power to exchange ideas openly and enrich their communities. The next executive must also have:
- Passion for and knowledge about the humanities; value the humanities as a rich source of knowledge and an invaluable set of skills that promotes rigorous thinking and challenge people to consider new alternative points of view.
- Ability to provide strategic leadership and outline a vision that translates into measurable actions and results.
- Demonstrated experience developing and implementing innovative programs and practices.
- Exceptional skills in persuasive communications (verbal and written) and the ability to serve as Maryland Humanities’ primary media spokesperson, as well as educate, inspire, persuade, and motivate a variety of key audiences across the state of Maryland.
- Strong fundraising record with an emphasis on experience with federal, state, and local grants, as well as corporate donors.
- Demonstrated advocacy experience at the state and federal government levels.
- Respect for diverse backgrounds and opinions, and the ability to connect with individuals of all backgrounds; demonstrated experience in advancing programs through an equity lens.
- Willingness to collaborate and build partnerships with schools, libraries, museums, and more entities that share Maryland Humanities’ goals of building strong communities.
- Stellar leadership and organizational management skills, especially with a small organization.
- Solid financial acumen and budgeting skills.
- Inclusive leadership and management style that encourages staff in ways that motivate them to provide feedback and perform at their best.
- Past success supporting and working with a board of directors in its governance role a plus.