Sweet Briar hosts Virginia Historical Societies Conference

| July 30, 2012

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources and Sweet Briar College’s Tusculum Institute will hold a workshop-based conference for historical societies Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Elston Inn Conference Center at Sweet Briar College.

The conference, which includes an interactive workshop, is geared toward anyone who is involved in one of the hundreds of historical societies in Virginia. Addressing issues that town or county historical societies face, the event will feature presentations from speakers with experience in improving fundraising, developing effective advisory or oversight board governance, creating new community partnerships, establishing a social media presence and tapping the resources of statewide organizations.

Historical society board members, staff, committee chairs and active volunteers are all encouraged to attend. In recognition of the financial challenges local historical societies are experiencing, conference organizers have set the fee for registration at $20, which includes a boxed lunch and continental breakfast beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Registration deadline is Aug. 6. Participants may register online through Sweet Briar College’s Tusculum Institute.

The morning session will open with a welcome from Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, followed by presentations from three guest speakers:

  • David Bearinger, director of grants and public programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Jo Ann Williford, member of the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies, who will discuss the importance of partnerships and collaboration;
  • Claire Holman, a Charlottesville-based consultant to nonprofits, who will address ways to improve fundraising campaigns; and
  • Sam Davis, a consultant with more than 25 years of strategic management experience working with family enterprises and philanthropic organizations, who will speak about effective board governance.

The afternoon session will include a presentation by Tusculum Institute director Lynn Rainville on using social media channels — from tumblr to twitter and from Facebook to Flickr — to reach new audiences.

Following the plenary presentations, the remainder of the afternoon will be devoted to concurrent breakout sessions hosted by representatives of state organizations who will focus on the available resources offered by their respective organizations to assist and support the mission of a local historical society.

Afternoon speakers include:

  • John Metz, director of archives, records and collections, Library of Virginia;
  • John Kneebone, director, Public History Program, Virginia Commonwealth University;
  • Phyllis Leffler, director, Public History Program, University of Virginia;
  • Bill Obrochta, director of education, Virginia Historical Society;
  • Ann Miller, senior historian, Virginia Department of Transportation Research Council;
  • Bob Carter, director, Sweet Briar College satellite office, Department of Historic Resources.

The afternoon will also include scheduled opportunities for participants with shared interests — “affinity groups” — to spend time together during two half-hour coffee breaks to discuss issues of mutual concern. Additionally, a conference-wide half-hour session is planned for brainstorming and discussion about plans for future annual conferences.

The conference schedule is available online at tusculum.sbc.edu/HistoricalSocieties.

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