NAI 2020 Elections
Ballots are sent to all NAI members by email September 8, with reminders September 15 and 22 for those who have not yet voted. The ballot will close September 29, 2020.
National Board of Directors
Greetings fellow NAI members,
Since January, I have had the honor of serving as National Secretary via appointment when the position was left vacant. My experience with NAI started in 2008 and has grown since then in a service leadership role. Listening to my mentors, I learned the more I put into service leadership, the more I gain both personally and professionally and giving back to this NAI community is an important part of my life.
National Association for Interpretation & Secretarial Experience:
- Appointed National Secretary, NAI Board of Directors (January 2020 - present)
- Three years as a Board-Nominated, Member-Elected, Board Member-at-Large (2017-2019)
- SWOT Analysis Team Chair (2019-2020) for 2020 Strategic Planning
- Seven years of experience on the Advisory Council (2014-2020), six of those years serving as the Advisory Council Election Coordinator (2015-2020)
- Two years on National Elections and Nominations Committee (2018-2020)
- Six years as Director of the Zoos, Wildlife Parks & Aquaria Community (2014-2019)
- One year as Deputy Director of the Zoos, Wildlife Parks & Aquaria Community (2020)
- Three years as Secretary-Treasurer of the Zoos, Wildlife Parks & Aquaria Community (2011-2013)
- Seven years, Secretary for the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes & Drums (2014-present)
In my non-NAI life, I work for Cleveland Metroparks as manager of CanalWay Visitor Center. It is a new role for me after working 18 years at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and prior to that, as a living history interpreter at Hale Farm & Village for the Western Reserve Historical Society. In my free time, I play the bagpipes with the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums, and spend time with my husband, two sons, and my dog, Bailey.
The responsibility of serving on the Board of Directors during a time of strategic planning is one I take seriously as we move to make improvements within NAI, I will continue to advocate for our profession and work to the best of my ability for inclusion in our organization. I respectfully ask for your vote as National Secretary on your Board of Directors and I look forward to serving you and this membership.
Board-Nominated Board of Directors
(7 candidates, 2 openings)
Casey Bries is an Education & Outreach Coordinator with City of Boulder’s Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) department in Boulder, Colorado. Casey has over 10 years professional experience in the fields of interpretation and environmental education. They hold a B.S. from the University of Minnesota in Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies with an emphasis on Outdoor & Environmental Education. In their career, coursework and volunteer experiences, Casey has focused on driving social change through curriculum design, organizational evaluation and policy development.
I want to serve on NAI’s Board of Directors because I believe interpretation plays a crucial and radical role in promoting social justice and that the future of our profession rests in strategic assessment of current organizational operations paired with innovative planning for the next generation. I want to use this position to challenge traditional narratives in interpretation and strengthen NAI’s reputation as its premier professional organization. I am dedicated to advancing NAI’s mission of inspiring leadership and excellence in interpretation, and I am excited to collaborate with the members of the NAI community and fellow board members in transforming our profession to meet the needs of our ever-changing world. I commit to enhancing my knowledge of service as a member of the Board of Directors, sharing my experiences with honesty and serving NAI’s membership with integrity and personal accountability. Together, let’s create a better tomorrow.
Jose “Pepe” Chavez
I stumbled upon the field of interpretation when I found my first job as environmental educator in South Carolina where I acquired the basic skills over 5 years of delivering interpretive programs. I worked as naturalist for Cleveland Metroparks in 2007 and one year later became the Nature Center Manager at Reedy Creek for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation in Charlotte, NC. I have been a Certified Interpretive Trainer since 2012 and have led multiple CIG and CIH workshops in North Carolina. I have been a presenter at multiple Regional and National Conference for NAI, the North Carolina Rec and Park Association and the National Rec and Park Association.
The most valuable knowledge and experiences have been from formal, and informal training, as well as the field experiences that have helped me hone my skills. From Certifications as kayak instructor from the American Canoe Association to graduating from “Supervisor Management School” by the National Rec and Park Association. I believe as we learn through our professional journey, it is also our duty to share the experiences so other can learn from them as well. Sometimes this experience-sharing exercise can take may shapes; mentoring, presenting and conferences, etc. In my case volunteering my time to draw from those experiences to help my professional organization is my way to contribute with a grain of sand to the beach that we create as interpreters to become the best professional network.
Kelli English is the Chief of Interpretation and Education for John Muir National Historic Site, Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, and Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Kelli grew up as a city kid who loved zoos as well as natural & cultural history museums. Over her 20-year career, she has delivered a wide variety of interpretive and place-based education programs, managed visitor center operations and budgets, trained staff in interpretive skills, facilitated dialogues about implicit bias and privilege, and worked with community organizations and park partners to engage urban youth with national parklands and the outdoors. Kelli holds a B.A. in anthropology from Harvard University, a M.S. in environmental education and interpretation from the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and won the NAI 2005 Outstanding New Interpreter Award.
I would like to serve on the National Association for Interpretation’s Board of Directors because I will bring valuable insights and experience to the leadership of this beloved organization. I attended my first NAI National Conference in 2000, and instantly felt right at home; that experience helped solidify for me that I had made the right choice in my career.
I believe that the field of interpretation is at a crossroads at this moment in time. The ways that we connect with visitors are rapidly changing, given the recent advancement of distance learning and virtual interpretation, and this may have long-term impacts for our field. We also need to further explore how issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) continually intersect with the narratives we highlight and the audiences we interact with. I have heavily focused on DEI issues throughout my career, and I am passionate about reconciling diverse perspectives and featuring untold stories.
As a Life Member of NAI, I have stayed engaged in many different ways over the past two decades, including the Student Scholarship Committee, the African-American Experience (AAE) branch, and the National Awards Committee. I am one of the charter members of NAI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, and continue to be an active participant as that workgroup has grown and evolved.
I would love to further use my experience, creativity, and perspective to assist NAI in shaping the future of our profession.
Brian Forist (he/him) teaches at Indiana University. He has a Ph.D. in Leisure Studies and minor in Folklore (Indiana University), M.S. in Environmental Studies and Elementary Education (Antioch University New England), and B.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Outdoor Education and Environmental Interpretation (Huxley College of the Environment). He has worked as an interpreter and environmental educator in national parks and non-profit settings. His research focuses on a new pedagogy of two-way, visitor-centered interpretation through dialogue. A strong Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion advocate, he has a specific interest in LGBTQ representation in the outdoors and environmental professions.
It is my hope and vision that the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) fully embraces its presence and potential in the 21st century. My interest in serving on NAI’s Board of Directors is to help make this happen. This requires shifts in how we define and practice interpretation. It also requires that we openly examine who we are as an organization of individuals, and assertively make changes in response to the changes in our constituents, our audiences, and our world. Sometimes it means making way for new faces and new voices. I have served on NAI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and Committee from its inception and will work hard to advance principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in everything our organization does. I am also an advocate of new approaches to interpretation that put the visitors, all visitors, and our diverse constituents at the center.
Brenda is Associate Dean in the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. She has been a professor of interpretation since 2005 and is a CIT. Brenda joined NAI in 1989 and has served in multiple roles, primarily within the College and University Academics community. She has served on the NAI Board of Directors since 2015, working on tasks such as leading the Journal of Interpretation Research Task Force, leading a Student Pipeline Task Force, assisting with the Heritage Interpretation Definition Project and the Heritage Interpretation Standards for Academic Curriculum.
One of my priorities for NAI is to strengthen our marketing/promotion efforts for the profession. Expanding awareness of interpretation continues to be a priority for NAI. Also, I believe that it is critical that NAI reach out more to related professions like tourism and leisure services to educate others about the role that interpretation plays; how it is a powerful tool to tell the stories about cultural and natural resources. Another priority for the organization is to support our student membership. The student pipeline is narrowing due to a reduced number of academic programs related to interpretation around the country. Finally, maintaining the role of research within NAI is critical. Our profession needs to be able to justify the importance of interpretation to funders, employers, agencies, etc. Support of research within our field helps explain the value of interpretation and should be central to a professional organization like NAI.
Cara O’Brien found her heart for interpretation as a volunteer and seasonal Interpreter with Channel Islands National Park. She continued that tradition by building essential partnerships, creating special events, and serving as a statewide trainer with California State Parks. Cara now serves as an Interpretive Program Manager where she leads a dynamic team of staff and volunteers. She has collaborated to create coastal wildlife protection campaigns. She co-leads the San Luis Obispo Marine Protected Area Collaborative with over 50 organizational members representing diverse user-groups. Cara enjoys SCUBA diving, hiking, and boating. She earned her BA in English from U.C. Berkeley.
I would be honored and dedicated to serve as an NAI Board Member representing the amazing Interpreters of our NAI community. I believe in and have benefitted from NAI’s mission and philosophy since I became a member in 1998. I want to continue to see NAI evolve now and into the future. To do this, we need to foster greater partnerships, and enhance communication amongst members, NAI staff, and the Board. With 28 years of experience as an Interpreter, and now as an Interpretive Program Manager I am confident that my skills in partnership building, community engagement, fundraising, and dedicated efforts towards inclusivity will lend itself to enhancing the work of NAI and empowering the NAI community. As an NAI Board Member I will honor the traditions of our past 30 years while guiding our community through the necessary changes to ensure that we thrive for the next 30 years.
For over 25 years Kevin Wright has worked in the guest experience field, the past 18 years of which have been at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He is the Security Manager within the Guest Experience Division. He has worked to create a security department which can enhance safety and security of the Aquarium and provide exceptional service to its guests. Additionally, Kevin is one of several CIT and CIHT at the Aquarium. He holds certifications in Emergency Management from the state of California. At the Aquarium, he sits on the Safety Committee, and Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee. Kevin has presented at both national and international workshops for the NAI and IAAPA.
I want to serve on the National Association for Interpretation’s Board of Directors because it is time to give back to the organization which has given me so much. I was hooked from the moment I stepped into my CIG class and fell further in love sitting in Yosemite taking my CIT. The lessons learned from workshops, both virtual to Regional, National, and International, are immeasurable. The network of colleagues and friends who can help brainstorm, troubleshoot, or commiserate with is priceless. I grew up the only Asian kid in town and the only mixed-race family. Life was good. We spent many summers exploring National or State parks. Park Rangers at campfire stories were a must whenever possible. I have always been in awe of how a good interpreter can immerse a visitor into the story of the site or person. It wasn’t until I visited Gila River Reservation with my grandparents, for an anniversary of their interment, did I experience seeing somebody interpret or tell the story of my family. Never had I realized how being represented telling history made me feel more connected. As Security Manager, I’ve worked to create a team of officers who interact and enforce versus solely enforce. They are a team modeled after the Park Rangers I remember growing up. It was not an easy culture to shift. It took work from a multitude of teams to help grow the department to what it is today. While a variety of institutions cross train security in interpretation to help with visitors, security and interpretation are still a unique pairing to many. We sit amidst unprecedented times and now more than ever is it important for a board to have fresh perspectives represent our members. NAI is a tremendously talented and important group of passionate people. We have been fortunate to have ardent board members over the years. As a member it has often felt or appeared as though the board is a rotation of the same people just changing positions. 2020 has already shown us we have much to learn and change systematically. NAI is no different. Now is the time for the board to chart new paths for better representation of the diverse society we are. I would like to serve on the board as I feel it would bring diversity in both heritage, interpretive background, as well as a fresh set of eyes to the board.
Member-Nominated Board of Directors
(5 candidates, 1 opening)
I left a different career in the middle of the 1980s, returning to college to finish a bachelor’s degree, and embark on a new path. I began my career in interpretation as an undergraduate majoring in interpretation and natural resource management. Though I enjoyed resource management, I found sharing knowledge about our natural and cultural heritage through interpretation the more enjoyable and rewarding. That led me from front line personal and nonpersonal interpretation into education, as I acquired both a master’s degree and a doctorate, ultimately teaching at the university level in outdoor and environmental education, heritage interpretation, and museum studies. During those travels, NAI, and its members, have been my constant professional and personal companions.
Serving on the NAI National Board is an opportunity to continue giving back to the organization that has meant so much to me, professionally and personally, since I first joined in 1989. Over the past 30 years I have been involved with several professional organizations at both national and regional levels, but NAI always has been, and continues to be, my most important association―my professional home.
Throughout those 30 years I have focused mainly on regional involvement in NAI, in various leadership positions, with occasional engagement at the national level, especially in the last few years. During these last few years, NAI has undergone significant changes and the stage has been set for more significant change in the future. I believe my history with NAI and my focus on regional and student development and representation along with continued professionalization of the field, will be of benefit to the organization as we move forward.
I bring 25 years of experience working in the field of exhibit development, master planning, and interpretation. Since 2000, I’ve co-owned The Design Minds, a content-based exhibit planning and design firm. In that role, I’ve developed interpretive plans and exhibitions at state museums in Oregon, Wyoming, and Mississippi. I’ve worked on some three-dozen National Park Service nature and visitor centers. I am an adjunct professor teaching Interpretive Planning and Design to graduate students in Georgetown University’s Museum Studies program. I have served as Chair of the American Alliance of Museums’ Council of Professional Networks (2019-2020) and LGTBQ+ Alliance (2015-2019).
By continuing to include diverse voices on the Board, NAI is uniquely positioned to champion all our communities. I have been privileged to work on a committee revising NAI’s standards for the CIP requirements. NAI is doing great work, specifically incorporating Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) in interpretive planning practices. I have worked on scores of interpretive plans and designs in every corner of the United States. I know my colleagues in the field must receive the technical training and institutional support needed to ensure that interpretation connects visitors meaningfully to our natural and cultural heritage sites. People from traditionally marginalized groups now make up the majority of potential audiences in many communities. I helped author the American Alliance of Museum’s LGBTQ+ Welcoming Guidelines and served on the working group that produced the Facing Change initiative. Inclusion means having a seat at the table. Thank you for your consideration.
John C. F. Luzader
My association with NAI began in 1991. Since that time, I served as the Director of the former CILH section, traveled to China representing NAI, presented sessions in 35 professional workshops, and served on the NAI Board including as Vice President for Programs. I received both the Master and Fellow Awards from NAI. My career has covered 46 years of professional interpretation working in national organizations and as a professional consultant. I provided training, presentations, and keynotes, planned and presented programming, assisted in museums nationally and internationally and worked in over 160 private, local, state, and national organizations and facilities.
The past six months have witnessed major challenges to the fields of interpretation. We now are exploring methods of telling the stories of current events and cultural changes, improving our communications to reach our visitor through new media and methodologies during a pandemic, improving diversity throughout all fields of interpretation while maintaining accuracy of information, quality of presentations and services to all communities, and professional standards. I offer to continually work for a changing, flexible, more proficient NAI with standards of quality that has NAI lead not only in the many fields of interpretation, but also in administration, leadership, and mentoring to others. I will work for the organization so that it will recognize and appreciate its past accomplishments, its diversity, improve upon its strengths, recognize its weaknesses, and strives to constantly improve itself for the needs of the membership and our respective fields.
Brady McKellar is Director of Museum Operations at Vermilionville, Louisiana, a 23-acre living history museum where he leads a part-time staff of 15 artisan interpreters and three full-time positions. His department oversees special event and day-to-day programming, on-site and in-school educational offerings, as well as tours and day-to-day operations.
He has served on faculty at Dillard University, Tulane University, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL.) He has a Master of Fine Arts in Design with an emphasis in historical design from the University of Southern MS. He has over 20 years’ experience in living history and interpretation. Brady is a Certified Interpretive Guide and is currently pursuing the Interpretive Manager and Interpretive Guide Trainer certifications. He serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, and is the deputy-chair for the Cultural and Historical Interpretation Section.
I am excited about serving on the NAI board because I believe not only in its mission, but in the execution and delivery of that mission. As a child, I took my first steps into living history in the with my family as a refugee during the siege of Vicksburg. At the time, I did not understand the concept of interpretation, but since then, I have developed a true passion in sharing and amplifying the stories of people and places. Over the past years, I have become more engaged in the programs of the NAI. Through NAI I have deepened my interpretative techniques, and have seen others do the same, whether in certification, workshops, or the National Conference. I am excited about serving on the board because I want to play a more vital role in the successes of NAI’s future, while making sure that all stories are being told.
As a kid, I was always outdoors and couldn’t wait to share what I’d discovered with anyone who’d listen. As I got older, that really didn’t change. So, it’s probably no surprise I ended up as an interpreter. Over the past 32 years I have worked as a front-line interpreter, nature center supervisor, and director of multiple interpretive facilities. I’ve also served on organizational boards both small and large. Recently, I completed an EdD in Heritage Leadership focusing on social justice and participatory culture. I’m passionate about the development of future heritage leaders and it is at the core of my current work.
I’m running for the board because NAI needs to continue to grow, adapt, and change to serve our membership and our changing world. This year has shown us that NAI needs to be poised to support our profession, whatever comes our way. Serving our membership’s diverse needs requires leadership and I am ready for that work.
I have been a part of NAI since volunteering at a workshop in 1989 and I am a proud life-member. I have assisted with regional conferences, presented many sessions over the years, and am currently assisting with the revisions to the Certified Interpretive Manager program. NAI has stood at the core of my professional career; providing the training and mentorship that helped me master my interpretive craft and to eventually become an interpretive manager. I owe NAI for my professional growth and now is a time for me to pay it forward to this phenomenal organization. As NAI has supported me through the years, I would like to offer my service in support of others who depend on a strong and vibrant NAI to sustain them in their professional journeys.