Hello EMPs! This is Caitlin Lill, from the Bay Area EMP Leadership Crew. I first want to thank AAM for making this opportunity possible, and giving us the opportunity to participate in this national dialogue. It is critically important to the museum field that our emerging professionals feel welcomed, supported, and, recognized as significant contributors in their workplaces, schools, and professional organizations. The national and regional EMP groups go a long way towards achieving these goals, and I’m confident that they will only continue to expand in the coming years.
On that note, I wanted to share a few of the strategies that the new Bay Area EMP group is utilizing to keep members engaged and to keep the group relevant to their needs. We had our first meeting two weeks ago, just a casual meet-and-greet with drinks and socializing, and we were thrilled to have over 40 local professionals attend! Everyone was enthusiastic about meeting other EMPs and sharing their museum ideas and experiences. Once everyone had arrived, our leadership crew interrupted their conversations for a few minutes to discuss the future of the group, and touched on two major issues that are at the heart of all professional groups of this sort: usefulness and sustainability.
The way I described “usefulness” to our members was that we want the group to be truly beneficial to our members in helping them make connections, explore a variety of museum topics, and be easily accessible. We are striving to host events that EMPs will actually attend and that will be easily applicable to their professional development. To accomplish this, we have invited members to share ideas on our facebook page or by e-mail. We are working on organizing informal coffeehouse chats on weekends, happy hours, museum/zoo/gallery visits, and eventually panel discussions and workshops. And through all of this we are continuing to market our groups to professionals not only in “traditional” museums, but also in zoos, art galleries, botanical gardens, nature centers, arboretums, and more.
While the leadership crew is organizing most of the dates, times, and locations for now, we’re going to be relying heavily on our members’ connections and associations in the future. We’ve asked every member to become personal advocates from the EMP group to their organizations, by either securing free or reduced admission to their museums, or by inviting EMPs to already planned events (ie, exhibit openings, programs, members events, etc). We are striving for a certain level of active involvement, and believe that the group will be at it’s strongest with everyone contributing.
Sustainability is easier to understand, but can be just as complicated in practice. To have a regional EMP group succeed, it needs to have a consistent stream of new leadership. The very nature of the term “EMP” implies the impermanence of the title, and while this guarantees new faces and talent joining the group, individuals will leave it as well. On our five person leadership crew, we know that three of us intend to step down within the next year, and at our first event, we asked people to consider joining in six months to a year from now, so that they’re already planning ahead for the time commitment. The response so far has been very positive, with multiple people saying that they will be happy to step forward in a few months. From the very start, the necessity to guarantee the future of the group is clear.
These are the techniques that the Bay Area group is using so far, but there are many more strategies that we haven’t explored yet. We will be happy to update with the results of our efforts, and also invite you to share your stories and ideas in the comments field below. Just as with our regional group, the national EMP movement will be strongest when all of us participate together.