About Melissa

Lifetime of Experience, One Museum

The majority of my career was spent at just one museum, Dallas Heritage Village. Originally hired as the Program Manager, I became Executive Director in 2014, after doing a little bit of everything. Both as Director of Education and Executive Director, I led the reimagination of our programming, our historic resources, and what an outdoor living history museum can do.

Building Community

Throughout my time at DHV, I worked to build community, whether within our rapidly changing neighborhood or in the larger museum field. Every museum–and museum professional–becomes stronger when you connect with others in our field. I’ve been active, both as a member and as a leader, in professional organizations at the local, state and national level–and some of my favorite experiences have been through that work.

Making History

My passion is history–and building connections between our modern lives and the past. My interests are broad, but I keep going back to stories from the early 20th century, particularly those about how women and African Americans pushed against the boundaries society struggled to enforce. But if you really want me to get going on a topic, just ask about Kidlit History.

Museum Philosophy

I believe that visiting a museum shouldn’t be a special occasion, but a regular part of people’s lives.

I believe that museums should be active members of their community and help fulfill the community’s needs, from opening spaces for community meetings to providing engaging programming.

I believe that everyone likes history; it’s our job to open the doors.

I believe that children belong in museums.

I believe that exhibits, interpretation and programming should reflect many voices, especially those of the community.

Selected Publications and Conference Presentations

  • The Littlest Historians (AASLH 2020)
  • Community: What is it and why do we need it? (TAM 2020)
  • “Not Organizing for the Fun of It”: Suffrage, War, and Dallas Women in 1918,” (Dallas History Conference 2019). Published in Legacies, Spring 2019.
  • Changing Neighborhood, Changing Museum (TAM 2018)
  • The Road to Success: Exploring the Intersection Between Planning and Innovation (AASLH 2018)
  • Whiskey for My Staff and Beer for my Llamas: Corporate Partnerships (AASLH 2018)
  • Making History Relevant (TAM 2017)
  • Passing the Torch: One Museum’s Story (AASLH 2016)
  • “Big Fish, Small Pond: How to Effectively Advocate in Your Community.” in Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset, edited by Robert P. Connolly and Elizabeth A. Bollwerk. Rowman and Littlefield, 2016.
  • Small Fish, Big Pond: How to Effectively Advocate in Your Community (AASLH 2015)
  • New Partners and New Opportunities (2015)
  • Article: “Can You Trust Teenagers with History?” History News, Summer 2013. 
  • Innovations in Museum Education (TAM 2012)
  • A Larger Housekeeping: Dallas Women During World War I. (Dallas History Conference 2008). Published in Legacies, Spring 2008.
  • The Participatory House Museum? (ALHFAM 2012)
  • Presenter at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Conference, 2002. ”The Hectic Flush: The Fiction and Reality of Consumption in L. M. Montgomery’s Life.”  Article published in The Intimate Life of L. M. Montgomery, edited by Irene Gammel, published by University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Community Service

For the American Association for State and Local History

  • America250 Programmatic Theme Task Force, 2021.
  • Board, Small Museums Committee, 2014-present; Chair, 2016-2018.
  • Steering Committee for STEPS Revision, 2018.
  • Program Committee, 2016-2018

For the American Alliance of Museums

  • Accreditation Reviewer, 2020-present
  • Peer Reviewer for Museum Assessment Program, 2010-present
  • Named to Education Task Force to determine future standards of museum education, 2018.

For the Texas Association of Museums

  • TAM Council, Councillor-at-Large, 2010-2014.
  • Chair of TAM Educators’ Committee, 2007-2009.
  • Secretary of TAM Educators’ Committee, 2005-2007. 

For My Community

  • Member, Working Group for Recontextualization of Fair Park and Memorial to Victims of Lynching, Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas; 2018-2019.
  • Dallas History Conference Steering Committee, 2014-present.
  • Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition, Board, 2015-present.
  • Member, Steering Committee. PD317 Zoning, City of Dallas; 2019-2020.
  • Co-founder of the Informal Educators of Dallas County, 2010. 
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