Candidate for 2024–2026 Term
My name is Terry Joyce, and I am your National Secretary on the NAI Board of Directors appealing for re-election support. Prior to my service on the national level, I was Secretary- Treasurer and sequentially Director of the Zoos, Wildlife Parks & Aquaria Section. Last year, along with the staff and conference committee, I served as Chair of the 2022 NAI National Conference in Cleveland. In my professional life, I am the Manager of CanalWay Visitor Center in Cleveland Metroparks but have worked as an interpreter at a history museum and at a zoo prior to my job at a nature center. Organization and active listening skills are key aspects of the National Secretary position as I record board members’ comments and questions. I prepare meeting agendas, minutes, and oversee record retention. Advocation and collaboration are key aspects of the work the Board of Directors does for you, our NAI Members, and it is work I value and take seriously. As National Secretary, I have dealt with the impact of Covid on this organization and how the board worked with the staff to manage funding to ensure NAI stayed afloat. We worked together to ensure our members had the support needed during times when employment was unsteady. During the last few years, we had a turnover with our Executive Director position, not just once, but twice, and as a board we navigated through these challenges as best we could. Moving forward, your NAI Board of Directors and Staff are working with a consultant to create our next Strategic Plan. We are designing this document to incorporate JEADI principles throughout the plan. Gathering member feedback is an integral part of this process. An aggressive proposal to advocate for the profession; create sustainable funding streams outside of what NAI currently does; and to build better relationships with partner organizations, are key goals I feel is needed now to help NAI thrive into the future. I enjoy my NAI volunteer service to all of you, my friends, and colleagues, and respectfully ask for your support in this election. Thank you!
Young Professional Board Member
Candidates for 2024–2026 Term
Starting my work in interpretation, as a ZooTeen, I was an interpreter long before I knew the name for what I was doing. Knowing I wanted to turn what I was doing as a volunteer into a career, I completed my BS in Zoology with a minor in Education. During that time, I worked various internships, seasonal, and part time jobs, all with interpretation and education at their core. Prior to the pandemic, I spent time as a Zoo Educator where I got to interpret animals and conservation every day. During the pandemic, I became the Park Specialist at Thousand Hills State Park in Kirksville, Missouri where I still am today. I write, plan, coordinate, and teach all the interpretive programs at the park. In the past few years, I completed my masters with a focus on conservation-based interpretation, obtained my CIG, and became involved with NAI. I am currently the Secretary for Young Professional Council and newsletter coordinator for JEDAI Section.
NAI’s mission aligns with what I value and want to play a more active role in the work they are doing. NAI, its members, and conferences have helped me grow tremendously and I feel that through this role I will be able to help others seek out new opportunities and growth. I would bring forward the young professional voice, both through my own experiences, as well as talking to other young professionals and bringing their voice forward. Having previously volunteered with another diversity group, I would also bring that knowledge and skillset to aid in the JEDAI based initiatives NAI is pursuing.
I would like to aid in NAI’s work to tell a complete story. Inclusivity and accessibility are priorities for me, as they help remove biases, barriers, and obstacles. By working towards this, NAI can continue to create a safe space for many who may not previously have seen themselves or their stories within our field.
I hope to be a voice for the inclusion of the JEDAI and young professional perspective throughout the work the NAI board does.
Brendan Kane is a Park Guide at Mammoth Cave National Park with a passion for interpreting untold compelling stories. His work in a variety of NPS units have driven him to find the stories lacking from the history books and to share them with coworkers and the public to provide a holistic understanding of history. A large part of this passion evolved from his thesis, which seeked to understand the interpretation of Summer in the Parks, a series of events in the 1960’s and 70’s designed to increase usage of park sites by racial minorities, and how it relates to the broader narrative of interpretation in minority communities.
He is running for the board to be the voice for young professionals in an ever changing and advancing field. Brendan hopes to increase professional development opportunities for individuals getting started in the field, especially those coming from non-traditional routes. NAI is truly an amazing organization that more young people need to know of and know the benefit of joining. As a founding member of the Young Professionals Council, he has had the opportunity to start these efforts, from encouraging young professionals to attend conferences, to providing sessions at the National Conference on how managers can best work with their younger employees.
However, young professionals are not the only ones that need help. As society continues to understand the importance of telling multiple understandings of history we, as interpreters, have a duty to continue to train and learn how to help others understand and connect with these stories in our sites and communities.
I want to serve on the NAI Board of Directors because I have benefited greatly from NAI’s work and am passionate about using my voice and skills to ensure that it continues to grow more engaging and relevant to interpreters of all backgrounds, career levels, and identities.
I currently work as the Public Engagement Manager at Gorman Heritage Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I manage visitor experiences, public programs, and interpretive media. My five years in the field have been filled with a mix of on-the-ground interpretation and management. I worked hard to get my CIG, CHI, and CIT certifications in that time and have enjoyed volunteering for NAI through the Region 4 and Interpretive Naturalist sections. I hope to better serve the interpretive community by acting as a voice for new interpreters on the Board of Directors.
If elected, I would advocate for improved labor conditions for interpreters including setting a base pay recommendation for organizations who hire interpreters. As a young professional myself, I know that the barriers to entry and advancement in this field are often tied into these material concerns including pay, limited full-time positions, and the expense of professional development opportunities. I believe that NAI should advocate for best practices for labor conditions in our field and would work hard to prioritize this.
As a queer person, issues of representation are always at the forefront of my mind and central to my work in the field. I believe that in order for NAI to represent the diversity in our field, including interpreters who are neurodivergent, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and interpreters who have disabilities, we need to ensure that the organization is highly accessible. If elected, I would advocate for the organization to make professional development opportunities more accessible both in modality and cost to better reach interpreters who are currently unable to attend NAI events.
I am looking forward to continuing my work in the field and hope to have the opportunity to serve you on the Board of Directors as the Young Professional Board Member.
Bozho (hello) my name is Katie Simpson and I am excited to be running for the open Young Professional Board of Directors Position. Over the last two years, I have been honored to study and work in the field of museum education, primarily specializing in Native American culture and heritage. Interpretation developed my passion for civil rights activism and creating a space to teach about the unique rights and circumstances tribes face as both sovereign nations and cultural communities. Needless to say, the joy I found in participating in a network that both educates and bridges connections encouraged me to further my knowledge in this topic and inspired me to study Indigenous Peoples Law at the University of Oklahoma. I was compelled to run for this role because of the ample opportunity to implement bits of what I’ve learned to improve dialogue in training and professional development for a more robust approach to Native American-related interpretation. After working in both a museum and National Park setting, I observed that while there is a willingness to advance dialogue, the resources to educate in this area are outdated, ill-informed, or absent. What I aim to accomplish during my tenure is to expand on current resources, or create new resources, that provide foundational understandings of approaching Native American heritage, and related issues, in interpretation. What I strive to bring to the table can be applied to a wide range of cultural competencies in the work we do, and in turn, benefit the many communities we represent as interpreters. Thank you for support and encouragement along this exciting journey!
Katie Simpson Nanawgam Kwe (Middle of the Lake Woman) Member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation
At-Large Board Member
Candidates for 2024–2026 Term
I am running for reelection to the Board to build on the work NAI is doing to better support current members and make our field welcoming and accessible to a new generation of interpreters. I am a small business owner, Certified Interpretive Planner, and member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Inclusion matters! I have worked on scores of interpretive plans and designs for almost 30 years. I am a past chair of the American Alliance of Museums’ Council of Professional Networks. I helped author AAM’s LGBTQ+ Welcoming Guidelines. I now serve as the chair of the Advancement (Fundraising) Committee and on the Personnel, Finance, and DEAI/JEDAI Committees. If reelected, I will continue working to make NAI better. Here’s how:
Expanding our field. We must support interpreters who connect with the communities they serve. We can welcome diverse voices into NAI by removing financial barriers to participation. I am on the core team writing a proposal for an IMLS grant to integrate DEAI principles in our training programs. We are raising funds to send people from traditionally marginalized communities to our conferences and trainings. I teach Museum Studies at Georgetown University and I know the challenges students face accessing this field.
Sustaining our commitment to make diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion a core of everything we do. Great interpretation requires us to tell stories and reflect perspectives that matter to all our visitors. As a member of a committee revising NAI’s standards for the CIP requirements, I continue to make our certification requirements reflect these needs.
Ensuring NAI’s organizational excellence. My experience as co- owner of The Design Minds, Inc. gives me insight into financial statements and personnel manuals. It may not be an exciting part of the Board’s role, but it is critical. I will continue to lend insight into best practices in managing your funds and ensuring our fantastic staff has the resources to serve members.
NAI has given me the chance to learn from people who make me think differently. Thank you for the chance to continue making NAI a place where everyone may have that opportunity.
As a dedicated NAI volunteer and independent Certified Interpretive Trainer, I am committed to fostering growth, equity, and innovation among our communities. After 20 years as an educator and business owner, most recently founding Raindrop Naturalist, I bring a strategic vision and entrepreneurial spirit to advance our global impact and deepen local connections. This requires sustainable initiatives, specifically adapting our coursework to support tour guides, high school students, and indigenous communities. Together, we can share stories that use inclusive language centered on well-being, accessibility, and social justice.
My own journey is a tale of transformation, from accidental interpreter during my Peace Corps Botswana tenure, to lifelong advocate of building relationships between people and Nature. In Botswana, I learned about the power of conservation and conversation from the ecological knowledge shared by my students and their families. Returning to the US, I moved into alternative education and taught Humanities classes to high school students. We engaged in Socratic dialogues, sparking independent thinking among my students to reveal the dialectic nature of universals, such as love, loss, joy, and fear.
In 2017, as a Volunteer Naturalist and Museum Docent, I discovered NAI’s CIG course. After attending the class, I knew that I had found my place and my people. Once certified, I pivoted my career from education to interpretation, serving twice as the Volunteer Chair for NAI’s National Conference, and for the past three years as Deputy Director of NAI’s Interpretive Naturalist Section. I also earned a graduate degree in Conservation Leadership and was hired as the first Outdoor Recreation Instructor for a newly formed trail and stewardship program with the City of Fort Collins.
I have also worked with organizations that reflect my commitment to interpretation and constructive conversations. These include: Restorative Justice Facilitator, National Association of Community & Restorative Justice; Facilitator, The Center for Public Deliberation; Public Engagement Specialist, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas. I hope that, with my experience and your input, we can learn from our past challenges, welcome new voices, and build stronger, better bridges for future generations.
I bring decades of experience and expertise as a field practitioner and academic along with an eye toward the future. I have studied public communication in parks, protected areas, and heritage sites—that thing that we call “interpretation”—holding a B.S. in Environmental Studies, Outdoor Education, & Environmental Interpretation, an M.S. in Environmental Studies & Elementary Education, and a Ph.D. in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies. I have worked in national parks, residential environmental education sites, non-profit organizations, and other public communication venues. I am a teacher, researcher, and practitioner. I am also dedicated to justice, equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in our profession and the places we protect. In particular, I have a significant presence regarding LGBTQIA+ inclusion and representation in the field of interpretation, the outdoors and the outdoor professions.
I first joined the Association for Interpretive Naturalists (AIN) in the late 1970s. My first professional presentation was at the AIN National Conference on Cape Cod in 1980. I have since given numerous presentations and served on panels at regional and national NAI meetings, many with my students. I am running for the NAI Board of Directors because our profession is at a critical point, poised to become ever-more inclusive and to more equitably represent and serve our diverse and expanding audiences. Under the direction of our Board President, Parker McMullen Bushman, we are moving into new and exciting territory. I am a fangirl! I have been and will continue to be a leader in evidence-based, visitor-centered dialogic interpretation and inclusive visitor services. This will move our profession forward. I have served on NAI’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Task Force/Committee since its inception. I will continue in a leadership role in NAI’s DEI efforts, empower members from society’s margins, and help to create a member base and profession that reflects the full diversity of our current and future visitors and other constituents. I am comfortable with difficult questions and conversations. I have a proven track record with students and new professionals. I want to expand on this in the service of our organization and profession.
Karen J. Barrett
Hello, I’m Karen Barrett. I believe a vibrant and engaged NAI is our best opportunity to establish and uphold standards of interpretive integrity, provide models of leadership, and nurture the resiliency of interpreters in the face of critical challenges such as the imperative to create just, welcoming, and safe places for people to learn and recreate in. With your vote I will work on issues that strengthen NAI; Fiscal soundness and business practices that reflect, especially our JEDAI, values and mission, training that incorporates best practices and support for academic research. I also believe that these things are possible because NAI’s magic ingredient is its creative, talented, and passionate membership.
I will bring extensive field, management, and project experience in our profession to this position. I have worked for the National Park Service, non-profits and recently retired as a California State Parks Interpretation and Education Program Manager. I love to connect people with people and resources. I currently contribute my interpretive planning skills to a regional parks project. I hold a BS from Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly Humboldt State University). I’m a Life member of NAI, have been recognized with awards for work as a national conference team member and as a Master Frontline Interpreter.
I am grateful to have an opportunity to give back. Throughout my career I leaned into NAI and leaned on NAI members who advised and mentored me. NAI came through during a budget crisis when a credible outside authority was needed to justify the value of interpretive services, NAI gave me the opportunity to grow as a leader by serving on a regional board and as its Awards Chair and on national and regional workshop teams and to grow professionally by learning of cutting-edge technology, communication trends, effective techniques, and relevant research. NAI training improved our staff’s performance and reliably built team cohesiveness.
In representing you, I will put my passion, talents, and experience to work on strengthening NAI. I’m a hiker, camper, and a lifelong learner. I live in Sonoma, California with my husband Joe Wasilewski and our rescue dog, Hope.
Historically Marginalized Community Board Member
Candidate for 2024–2026 Term
I would love to serve another term on the National Association for Interpretation’s Board of Directors, this time for the “Historically Marginalized Community” dedicated board position. Although no one can ever claim to adequately represent the vast array of varying perspectives within their ethnic and/or gender identity, I do feel that I 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 choosing my career. 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 have continued to serve as the chair and board representative. I have heavily focused on DEI issues throughout my career, and I am passionate about reconciling diverse perspectives and featuring untold stories.
As the field of interpretation has grown and evolved during the subsequent years, it is vital that we keep ourselves relevant as the ways in which we connect with visitors continue to rapidly change. Advances in virtual interpretation have opened up a variety of new types of visitor experiences, and digital technology enables us to address accessibility challenges more effectively than ever before. 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’m proud to help lead the effort this year to seek a National Leadership Grant for NAI from the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) to continue fostering and implementing this important work within our organization.
I am excited to continue using my experience, creativity, and perspective to assist NAI in shaping the future of our profession.