Applying to the Seminar
The History Leadership Seminar welcomes applications from staff in large and small history organizations who want to deepen their thinking about the vexing issues facing the history field and more effectively achieve their organization’s mission and impact.
Applicants usually work in a leadership position at their institution, such as director, department head, or project manager. Applicants should have several years of experience working as professionals in a non-profit organization focused on history, such as a museum, library, archives, historical society, historic site, or historic preservation organization. The Seminar is not designed for staff who are new to the field or students and faculty at academic institutions.
Applicants are expected to have a basic knowledge and experience with the standards and best practices of their profession (e.g., AASLH Code of Ethics) so that they can actively participate and discuss issues affecting mid- and advanced-career history professionals. If admitted, Associates are expected to participate as colleagues in all Seminar activities, including class discussions, small group activities, field sessions, and occasional meals, to strengthen the cohort experience.
Applications for 2024 Seminar will open in October.
Applications require the following materials:
- Personal statement, confirming you will participate in the Seminar if accepted; describing your background, experience, and current role; explaining how your participation will benefit you, your career, and/or your organization; and describing the potential impact of your participation on the Seminar experience, your fellow Associates, and your institution.
- Resumé or CV (three pages maximum).
- Letter of support from your institution’s director/CEO or board chair (if you are director); we may also accept a letter of recommendation from a professional colleague if necessary.
- Scholarship request (optional).
Note: The alumni testimonials below may refer to the program under its previous name, “Seminar for Historical Administration,” or “SHA.”
Testimonials from members of the Class of 2023, submitted anonymously
I think the most helpful thing about this workshop was getting to know our cohort and building a connection of peers to share our challenges, as well as our experiences. I also loved the focus on DEAI, and how it can look in museums was a timely topic for our cohort. Andrea tied all the sessions nicely together. She also recognized when our cohort needed moments for pause and reflection, which I found very useful. I appreciated her insight and all the planning that went into the four week program.
The workshop and its speakers gave me language towards things I was “feeling” about the museum field but didn’t know how to fully describe. I am going to be speaking at my institution in a series of learning lunches about what I learned from this experience, and I fully believe that the information shared will help to better our institution and any institution I may work with in the future. Andrea was an excellent facilitator and really humanized the program. She was respectful of our time and responded to how the group was feeling at all moments. The speakers she organized were all informed in their areas and awesome to listen to/speak with. She truly seemed invested in wanting to help us grow and really take what we learned and start to apply it. I truly valued her style of leadership with the program and think she created an environment where we could talk about all topics, good and bad.
Christopher Miller (Class of 2016), National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
My experience…reinforced my perspective on the value of public history. History is a weapon that empowers us to be courageous and inspires us to guard our collective hope for a greater future. Through this immersive experience with like-minded colleagues, I was able to understand my role as a steward of history’s authentic truth.
Chris Goodlett (Class of 2016), Kentucky Derby Museum
[This program] is the single most profound experience I have had in my professional career. Intellectually, it provided the necessary time to step outside of the everyday work schedule and reconnect with why I found history so essential in the first place. The faculty challenged us daily to think about the history profession in different ways. Additionally, the chance to share this experience with peers across the country is invaluable. Daily opportunities to discuss the myriad of issues in all our institutions, whether to stand in solidarity amidst common problems or help each other provide solutions, is possibly the primary benefit of SHA. Even after returning home, I find myself relying on members of my SHA class to offer necessary insight, something I’m quite certain I’ll do for the remainder of my career.
Jennifer Niemi (Class of 2014) Minnesota Historical Society
The spring of 2014 I found myself at a professional crossroad. It felt like any minute I was going to be discovered as a fraud in my position as the program manager at Split Rock Lighthouse. I was questioning my every idea and decision. When I saw the all staff email looking for internal applicants for the 2014 cohort it felt like a sign. I would either apply and be found out for the sham I was or maybe someone would see something I was not. Much to my surprise I was chosen as one of two staff members given the go ahead to submit a formal application to the AASLH Seminar for Historic Administration (SHA). My time at SHA felt like a re-commitment to my job, the history field and myself. It reaffirmed that the work I was doing was relevant, alive and meaningful.
Aimee E. Newell (Class of 2013), Luzerne County Historical Society
Within the first hours of the SHA experience, I knew that it would be incredible, largely due to my classmates. Here was a group of people who shared my enthusiasm and passion! Like me, they wanted to make the field better, starting with their own institutions. For me personally, I loved the opportunity to learn and think about leadership and what it means for the history museum field. When I went home after the three weeks, I wanted more. Almost four years later, I am halfway through an MBA program (where I am learning more about leadership, entrepreneurship and finance) and five months into my first job as Executive Director. I am still in touch with many of my classmates, several of whom were instrumental in encouraging me take the leap to ED. They cheer on my successes and help me problem solve when I need it.
Jessica Ellison (Class of 2012), Minnesota Historical Society
Leaving my husband and three small kids for three weeks to attend SHA was not easy, but the best things in life rarely are. SHA provided a rare opportunity to be immersed in thoughtful, complicated discussions about relevant issues in my field; for a person who never takes a lunch break, it was miraculous! But perhaps the greatest benefit is your cohort of fellow history professionals, people you continue to connect with and learn from for years after SHA.
Ryan Spencer (Class of 2012), The Henry Ford
For me, SHA was the perfect professional experience at the perfect time in my career. I had finished grad school in Museum Studies four years prior. SHA helped me take the theoretical knowledge I gained from school and attach it to my experiences in the trenches, as it were. SHA also connected me with a much wider professional network than I had known before. Suddenly, my eyes weren’t fixed solely on growth at The Henry Ford, but growth within the larger field of Public History and Museums. Since SHA in 2012, I have blessed by three promotions and increased responsibility. I believe SHA helped prepare me for these new roles.
Jamie Glavic (Class of 2011), National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
SHA is more than professional development – it’s a career builder. From expanding my history network, to the friendships I share with my cohort, SHA has been pivotal in my professional growth and has presented me with opportunities I would have never thought possible. If you’re not sure what you next step is, or should be, apply for SHA. This program guided and helped me create my professional roadmap.
Rebecca M. Slaughter (Class of 2009), Las Cruces Museum System
I am incredibly grateful for time in Indy! I attended SHA at a moment of crisis in my career. I was struggling with the “where do I go from here” question. My classmates were brutally honest when I voiced my concerns and hopes for the future and I ended my three weeks a better museum professional with a new set of vibrant colleagues stretched across the country. I came home from my three weeks away with an infusion of hope and excitement about our work which still drives me today.
Richard Josey (Class of 2008), Collective Journeys, LLC.
One of the most transformative moments in my life was the moment when I attended the Seminar for Historical Administration. Leaving SHA was like leaving church on Sunday; I was filled with a renewed spirit, sense of purpose, and new thoughts to consider in my future work. Now, 9 years later, I’ve continued to build on those lessons and have been an advocate to send several of my colleagues. SHA Alumni are like a family that keeps growing year after year.
Michelle Moon (Class of 2007), Lower East Side Tenement Museum
In midcareer, it often seems a mystery how the leaders of the field got from where we are to where they are ‐ how they developed their scope of knowledge about administration, purpose, and the issues of public history. SHA demystifies this process concentrating years’ worth of mentorship into a rich, intensive three weeks. Nowhere else will the midcareer professional find the breadth and strong grounding in leadership basics in such an efficient package.