This is our second edition of Meet the Staff, and I’m pleased to introduce the lovely Kelly! Kelly has been at the museum for over a year, and she brings great organizational skills, creativity, and enthusiasm.
How would you describe your work at the Hull-House Museum?
My work primarily involves the planning, coordinating, and managing of the Hull-House Museum’s public programs. I also assist in coordinating the events of our programming partners that take place at the Museum. Very recently, my responsibilities expanded to being the Volunteer Coordinator for the Re-Thinking Soup program and the Museum’s Urban Farm and Community Garden Project. I am very excited about this, as Re-Thinking Soup is one of my favorite core programs of the Hull-House Museum. The other part of my job involves being the Special Assistant to the Director, Lisa Lee, and assisting her in coordinating her personal events and activities in various political, cultural, and social arenas.
What are you currently working on at Hull-House?
Hmmm…what am I NOT working on at Hull-House is more of the question. Well, right now, I am working on organizing volunteers for Re-Thinking Soup and making sure we meet our deadline for the interim narrative report for the NEH grant!
What do you like about this work?
I enjoy the people: my colleagues, programming partners, and staff in other UIC departments. I also enjoy good and creative public programming and using my energies to bring ideas to the table and people together. It’s very rewarding to see it all come together. I also like the variety of things I get to do on occasion, which keeps things a little interesting.
What are the challenges?
The pace can get pretty hectic at the Hull-House, so you just have to hang in there with the ebb and flow of it all. Also, there are always interesting and creative brainstorming sessions going on, which is a good thing. However, I work in an open office space, so it’s difficult to completely remove myself from the impromptu discussions. Sometimes, I want to have an imaginary wall that is impenetrable, so I can block myself off. I have to be really disciplined at times and resist wanting to jump in on every yummy conversation!
Name a previous experience that has helped to prepare you for this work.
Before coming to the Hull-House, I worked at an Institute at Columbia College Chicago that did a lot of public programming. I was involved in much of the planning and coordinating and developed a lot of relationships with people from different departments on campus as well as community partners from different cultural, social, and civic organizations. The work I did there definitely prepared me for my current position at the Hull-House Museum.
What is your favorite artifact in the museum?
My favorite artifact in the Museum is Jane Addams dress. It’s a bit surreal to know that this is a dress this amazing and world-renowned woman wore; that her skin actually touched this dress is really something.
What do you do when you aren’t hard at work?
When I am not at the Museum, I am most likely doing two things 1) working with Affinity Community Services, where I serve as Vice President of the Board of Directors (I just got voted in on Saturday. Yay!). We are a non-profit organization founded on the South Side of Chicago that provides advocacy, services, programming, and leadership development for Black lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. 2) Sharing a meal and enjoying spending time with my partner, my favorite thing to do.
What is your all-time favorite museum?
I don’t have an all-time favorite museum. However, I love the Museum of Science and Industry and enjoy visiting the Field Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art. I was in San Francisco about a month ago and visited the GLBT Historical Society in the Castro neighborhood. It is a small and very modest museum but is an example of one that uses the artifacts they have well. The exhibit there that moved me the most is of the suit and shoes Harvey Milk was wearing when he was killed. To see the fabric, to look at the shoes and know that his feet were in them, and to see the blood stains on parts of the clothing was really compelling. I was not expecting to see an exhibit like that, especially at such a modest museum. It was very powerful and sobering and really reminded me of all the history that took place in the Castro. It brought that history to life for me in that moment even more.
If you were a Hull-House resident, who would you be?
I would be Mary Rozet Smith. From what I know of her, she was an accomplished and civically engaged woman in her own right that put her money and resources where her mouth was. She was a quiet force that does not get the attention and glory that Jane Addams and some of the other women receive, but that didn’t appear to be important to Smith. She gave back to communities she felt connected to and part of. Plus, she was Jane Addams’ right-hand woman. You can’t get any better than that!!