Announcing the EMP Awards Winners of 2021!

National EMP Network is a volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging and supporting self-defined emerging museum professionals in building vibrant, equitable, and inclusive communities of networking, collaborative practice, and exchange. One way we intend to do this is through recognizing the individuals, collectives, and organizations who have supported the emerging museum professional community and the museum field as a whole. 

The EMP Awards is one way we intend to do this work. Yeah, sure there are awards programs through other professional organizations, but they don’t typically reflect the views and interests of the emerging museum professional community. The EMP Award Winners for 2021 are some of the best and brightest in the museum field and we are so proud to be recognizing and celebrating these individuals.

But first, we want to thank and recognize the inaugural EMP Awards Committee. The Awards Committee is a special nominated committee of individuals who have been actively involved in NEMPN. Our Awards Committee was nominated by members of the Board this year and in future years, will be nominated by the previous year’s Awards Committee. This year’s committee consists of some of the best and brightest folks I have seen in this sector and it is an honor to introduce them. They reviewed all of the applications and selected the best of them for this honor. 

  • Heather McLaughlin
  • Jacob Simpson
  • Margaret Helms 
  • Ashley Bivin
  • Jenna Green
  • Ashanti Davis
  • Jessica Noyes

Now for our winners!

Best Internship/Fellowship Program: 
1)Indian Arts Research Center at School for Advanced Research (SAR) Internship Program
2) Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
3) Diversity Apprentice Program at the Broad
Honorable Mention: Poster House and Palo Alto Art Center

Best Museum Studies Program: 
1) Institute of American Indian Arts Museum Studies Program
2) The Cooperstown Graduate Program
3) The University of Washington Museology Masters of Art Program

 Best EMP Chapter: 
1) Bay Area EMP
2) Tallahassee (Tally) EMP
3) San Diego EMP

Social Advocate: 
1) Change Berkshire Culture
2) Chaya Arabia
3) Exhibiting Kinship
4) Carla Forbes
5) Death to Museums
6) Onyx Montes
7) PMA Union
8) Museum Workers Speak
9) Change the Museum 
10) Dismantle Preservation
Honorable Mentions: LaTanya Autry and Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko

Rock Solid: 
1) Cara Martinez

Cara Martinez, the lead animal caretaker at Fernbank Museum of Natural History exhibits the core values of NEMPN. She leads with compassion and advocates for fellow employees. As a new part of the education team, Cara made me feel welcomed and supported. Cara has a history of advocating for salary transparency and continues to be the pillar of the education team during these tumultuous times. She is constantly going above and beyond. Cara deserves to be recognized for her hard work!”


2) Hillary Rothberg

“Hillary’s impact may “only” reach the corners of the capital region, but it has no limit in its impact on the countless teachers, emerging museum professionals, neighbors, colleagues, and volunteers she’s worked with in DMV museums and, recently, as Director of Education & Visitor Services at Tudor Place Historic House & Garden. As an alumnus of a local museum education graduate program, Hillary brought a commitment to emerging museum professionals and volunteers into her Tudor Place leadership role. She developed Tudor Place’s first paid internship, won a grant for a paid graduate fellow, and designed a part time Visitor Services role to fit students’ desires to learn both research and practical administration skills. Tudor Place’s volunteer program is exemplary. It supported many long-term volunteers and trained new docents, many of whom were Tudor Place neighbors. When Covid-19 shut museums down, Hillary’s team created an internal daily newsletter for volunteers. This focus on how to give back is seen in her motto “teachers are learners, too”, as well as in how she’ll freely swap ideas with colleagues in the area. This community work was done alongside maintaining free or low-cost field trips, institutionalizing inclusive interpretation from her start, and ensuring that education programs never had to become a revenue stream. In short, anyone who interacted with or worked for the Education & Visitor Services department found a “rock solid” foundation. For those of us who work(ed) there – we know it’s because Hillary herself is a rock solid leader, mentor, and museum professional.”


3) Nicole Krum 

“Nicole created the Visitor Experience Group to provide affordable, accessible professional development to folks who usually don’t have access to it.”


4) Ashley Bivin

“Ashley is ROCK SOLID because when I out of the blue contacted her about (re)starting the Alaska EMP group she didn’t even hesitate to dive right in – even as a newcomer to Alaska! Already she’s taken charge of the Facebook group and the Mighty Network chapter for Alaska EMP and has spoken about the chapter at the Museums Alaska conference. She’s even going to be doing a Skillshare with NEMPN in 2022 and serves on an NEMPN committee!”


5) Meredith Steinfels

“Simply put, Meredith is one of the humans I want to be when I grow up. Meredith is the Assistant Director of Digital Platforms, Media, and Archives at the Hood Museum of Art. Though a few pay grades removed from “emerging,” Meredith has used her position to persistently advocate on behalf of emerging museum professionals. This is perhaps best evidenced by her leadership in creating the Hood’​​s Mutual Learning Fellowship. In a sad (but slowly shrinking!) sea of unpaid internships, Meredith saw to the creation of a program focused on equity, enrichment, and care for aspiring, early-career museum workers. The program has everything…”

Congratulations to all of the award winners and honorable mentions. We hope to continue to see incredible work from all of you and we hope to see you all at a National EMP event in the near future. Please know all museum professionals, emerging and not-sure-if they-have-emerged, are welcome to join the National EMP members’ space at members.nationalempnetwork.org.