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WHM LEADERSHIP STORY: CHRISTY COLEMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT JYF


It's been quite a year for Christy S. Coleman, new executive director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (JYF). Within two months of taking the helm in January 2020, Coleman led the agency while its museums were forced to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic and worked with leadership to take steps to reopen safely.

Through unprecedented circumstances, Coleman has worked to acquaint herself with JYF, bring pandemic-era innovation to the museum industry and make strides to diversify the agency's workforce. Her expert leadership over the past year has resulted in recognition and opportunities both nationally and statewide, including:

- February: Received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from William & Mary;

- April: Awarded Virginia Professional Communicators Newsmaker of the Year, for her work to make museum experiences meaningful to diverse communities;

- April: Joined the Governor Northam's COVID-19 Business Task Force, among 24 appointed to advise on reopening Virginia;

- June: Opened #AAM Radical Reimagining, the first virtual annual conference of the American Alliance of Museums;

- August: Named among Virginia's top leaders by Virginia Business in "Virginia 500";

- September: Delivered closing remarks at the American Association for State and Local History meeting

Coleman's goal is to work in partnership with JYF's board, staff, donors, volunteers and diverse stakeholders. "I want to tell powerfully relevant history that is inclusive and compelling," Coleman said recently. She wants to further tell full and inclusive stories of the past through engaging and meaningful visitor experiences, building on the success of diverse storylines shared during the 2019 Commemoration and in former special exhibitions.

In January, Jamestown Settlement opened a yearlong exhibit exploring Virginia's indigenous people through a contemporary lens in "FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience." "From colonialism to independence, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation tells the stories of the 17th and 18th centuries very well," Coleman said. "I want to look more at the convergence of the three cultures at Jamestown and the rich stories of this period through the Revolutionary War."

Between her goals - addressing diversity in all of its forms in the museum experience. Coleman has already worked to diversify workforce demographics, including at her previous role as CEO of the American Civil War Museum. In February of this year, JYF welcomed its new senior director of marketing and public relations, Glenda H. Turner, a leader in consumer marketing and advertising with over 20 years of experience.

As Coleman continues to build upon the foundations of her predecessors, she'll work with JYF to help implement her vision into the great goal of promoting these important sites of United States history.

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an educational agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, administers Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Through immersive gallery exhibits and living-history experiences, the museums present the shared stories of early America, from the convergence of American Indian, European and West Central African cultures to the development of the United States. Jamestown Settlement features historical interpretation in outdoor re-creations of a Paspahegh town, 1607 English ships and 1610-14 fort at Jamestown Settlement, and a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

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