Three weeks have passed since I joined AHF as its new grants director and I am amazed with the number and range of people I have already had a chance to meet, as well as with the variety of activities and events I have taken part in. Every day has been different and new. I love the phone conversations I have daily with people developing projects and looking for funding, and I look forward to working with such a diverse, creative and insightful group! I have also entered many events into my calendar. My goal is to get out of my office as much as possible and experience first-hand the projects we fund. Although, I must admit, I love the view of downtown Birmingham from my office window!
Here are some of the highlights from these first weeks:
• First days filled with introductions and help sessions. My deepest appreciation for all the help from new colleagues—Cynthia Martin, Alma Anthony, Michael Chambers, Patricia Williams and, of course, executive director Bob Stewart—as they assist me in getting settled.
• Meeting at the Kiwanis Club where I exchange New Year’s wishes with board chair Jim Noles and board members Dr. Bob Whetstone and Guin Robinson, as well as former Birmingham-Southern President Dr. Neal Berte. The speaker that day was David Dionne, Eexecutive director of Red Mountain Park, an organization which AHF supports through its oral history exhibit.
• Afternoon with Jennifer Dome at the newly remodeled Bankhead House & Heritage Center in Jasper. This will be the first site of our Smithsonian-sponsored Museum on Main Street exhibition “Journey Stories.”
• After a delay due to the snow, I finally meet Tom Bryant, who just returned from Paris where he spent the New Year. Enchantée, Tom!
• Planning session for the Humanities Faculty Development Award and the Humanities Summit to be held at the Department of Archives and History in Montgomery on March 25. This year, a very timely topic is at the heart of the essay contest: Civility in Public Life.
• Lunch at the University of Alabama’s Center for the Book and visit of the A.S. Williams III Collection “History and Culture of the South.” Fascinating and so worth the trip!
• Planning meeting with Chris McCauley (David Matthews Center for Civic Life) to discuss our collaboration toward the forum on civility. We agree that with the recent events in Tucson, AZ, this topic seems all the more timely and pertinent.
• Lunch/birthday celebration for Cynthia Martin: we eat at Sitar so she gets to sample the food of India, where she will travel in February.
• Board meeting and reception hosted by board chair Jim Noles (of Balch & Bingham). I finally get to meet everyone involved with AHF!
• Conference at Auburn “Becoming Alabama” by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities.
AHF truly affects many lives in the State of Alabama and I am grateful to be a part of it.