Utah Humanities Appoints New Executive Director, Jodi Graham
Salt Lake City, Utah, January 16, 2018 – Utah Humanities announces that Jodi Graham will take the helm as Executive Director, effective March 1. Graham is well-positioned to step into the role, having been associated with Utah Humanities in several capacities for over 14 years. She has most recently served as Assistant Director and Director of UH's Center for Local Initiatives.
"I have a deep appreciation for this organization and the important work it does throughout the state," says Graham. "I've seen firsthand how bringing diverse groups of people together to share ideas and experiences enriches lives and strengthens communities. I'm honored to serve as Executive Director, and excited to work with the talented staff and dedicated board of UH as we move forward together into a bright future."
Utah Humanities engaged in a nationwide executive search process following the announcement of the pending retirement of its Executive Director, Cynthia Buckingham. The rigorous selection process produced a high caliber of finalists from more than 110 applicants from throughout the United States. Before making the final decision, the search committee conducted multiple interviews with board and staff members, and invited key stakeholders to meet the finalists in a community reception.
"The board has the responsibility of selecting the UH Executive Director," remarks David Allred, search committee chair and past chair of Utah Humanities' board of directors. "It is a task that we know is among the most important we have. Because of this, the board ensured that an expansive and rigorous search was conducted to find the best possible leadership at this time of transition. We have deep respect for Cynthia Buckingham and her transformational leadership, and Jodi Graham emerged in the selection process as our unanimous choice to maintain our important work while bringing new ideas and opportunities."
"We are very pleased that Jodi has accepted the offer to become Utah Humanities' next Executive Director," says UH's current board chair, Henry Wurts. "She brings vast institutional knowledge as well as a drive to reach even a broader Utah audience. Cynthia has created the framework for a smooth transition and leaves a legacy of strength that Jodi can build upon. Under Cynthia's direction, we developed new programs within four Centers of focus. Having participated intimately in that process, Jodi is now prepared to help Utah Humanities expand programming, empower a greater number of Utahns, and promote active engagement in the humanities. We look forward to Jodi's leadership, energy, and creativity."
Cynthia Buckingham has been with Utah Humanities since 1983. She has exemplified graceful leadership, and her priorities included diversifying funding sources, increasing outreach activities, and expanding partnerships. Buckingham remarks "It has been such a privilege to work with our amazing staff and committed community leaders from all over the state to demonstrate the essential role of the humanities in our everyday lives. I can't imagine a more rewarding career! I'll always be grateful for this opportunity, and am delighted to know that Utah Humanities will continue to thrive under Jodi's capable leadership."
Cynthia Buckingham's Farewell Message
This is a very fond and grateful farewell as I retire from Utah Humanities and welcome our new Executive Director, Jodi Graham.
As 2017 drew to a close and the once-distant notion of retirement loomed, I had to face the reality that my identity would soon be changing in a big way. Utah Humanities has been both the core and the pinnacle of my professional career, beginning in 1983 and serving for the past twenty years as Executive Director.
Looking back, my husband Jim and I didn’t plan to settle in Utah permanently. We came from Minnesota thinking this would be our first stop in exploring great American cities, but when that next opportunity beckoned we realized that we’d already put down roots here. It has been a great ride, with many tremendous rewards.
I am so proud of Utah Humanities’ mission to empower Utahns to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities! These are some of the experiences that have had the greatest meaning for me. UH’s dedication to serving the entire state made it possible for me, as a born-and-bred Midwesterner from the land of 10,000 lakes and serious humidity, to explore the region’s mountains, deserts, canyons, and small towns and to become familiar with Utah’s history and culture.
UH’s role as the voice of diversity in Utah has given me the opportunity to meet and work with hundreds of amazing board members, talented staff, energetic partners, and thousands of inquisitive residents who represent myriad professions, interests, ages, ethnicities, religions, and opinions.
UH’s consistent prodding for all of us to consider big and important questions is central to living full and productive lives. Kant’s three essential questions—What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?—will always resonate with lifelong learners. Knowing that the humanities help us to deal with real problems and open the door to thinking about our place in the world allowed me to get through the day-to-day busy-ness and occasional challenges of running a nonprofit.
People keep asking what the future holds for me, and that’s an open question for now. I’m not making any big commitments for at least a year, but look forward to more reading for pleasure, traveling to new places, renewing friendships, participating in UH and other cultural activities, spending more time with family (including our new granddaughter), and waking without an alarm clock. Eventually, I’ll seek new opportunities to serve the community. Teddy Roosevelt said, “The best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” You—current and former staff, board members, program partners, donors and supporters, and humanities aficionados everywhere—are the reasons this has been work worth doing for the past 35 years.