Farewell Message from NEMPN President Michelle Epps

After advocating for emerging museum professionals for 10 years, I believe it is time for me to step down as president of the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network in order to focus more on my role as Executive Director of the Cleveland-based Art Therapy Studio. Both the pandemic and the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks has resulted in both an increase in demand and need for mental health services to the community in which my organization is positioned and supports. I have come to the realization that I am not able to serve the missions of both organizations with my full-self and would rather relinquish one so both don’t fail. Though I am sad to leave, this will allow NEMPN to welcome a fresh perspective with new leadership which will propel the organization into the next decade. This was a difficult decision for me to make as I am still very passionate about improving the museum field.

Six years ago I set out to unite all the Emerging Museum Professional chapters when the American Alliance of Museums decided to move in another direction for their EMP initiatives. The formation of the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network from its inception has been a collaborative effort. There are so many individuals to thank for making NEMPN possible; from our current board members who are trying to listen and respond to the needs and wants of the larger EMP community at this moment, to the past board members and current and former chapter leaders who participated in countless meetings and were incredibly generous with their time and limited resources. 

During my role as President, we made great strides in advancing our cause and I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished together. I wanted to take a moment to highlight the work we have done collectively to show how far we have come and hopefully inspire us to go further still. Together we effectively worked with our colleagues at 43 museum associations to support the adoption of salary transparency policies on their job boards. We started a partnership with Rogers Publishing to create Theory & Practice, a journal dedicated exclusively to the writings of emerging museum professionals. Collectively we compiled and vetted a detailed list of museum studies programs in the U.S.and hosted this information in one place to allow for easier searching of programs available. We also surveyed our community to discover details and insights into who EMPs are and what challenges we face in breaking into the field. And lastly, we worked to create a space of learning and collaboration on our social media accounts by promoting real discussion about the challenges facing the museum field today. All these accomplishments would not be possible without YOU!

“Retiring” alongside me are former Vice President Katie Conrad and former Secretary Kristen Mihalko. Both Katie and Kristen have been instrumental in keeping NEMPN going over the last couple of years and I owe them a debt of gratitude for their loyalty, compassion, and dedication. Though we may be departing, the current NEMPN board will continue on with our mission to engage museum professionals across all stages of their careers in building vibrant communities of networking, knowledge exchange, and resource sharing. We know there is still more work to be done and we hope you will remain engaged so we can continue to advocate together for museums to do and be better.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to emerging museum professionals!


Michelle Epps

Immediate Past President 

National EMP Network

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