The Power of Vulnerability

As museum technologists, change (almost revolution) is at the heart of our work. To bring change to our institutions, we must address vulnerability as the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and agency. However, we must also consider that vulnerability is the birthplace of shame, fear, and uncertainty - kryptonite for the typical museum worker. This paradox will be unpacked and explored to illuminate for participants the obstacles in their own work styles and organizational culture. This session will explore vulnerability as essential to human connection in the context of the Human-Centered Museum. Questions will be derived from the work of Dr. Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher that studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Her research posits that vulnerability is at the center of human connection. This curated conversation is designed simultaneously to address vulnerability in museum work and to exercise vulnerability in real time. We have pre-selected participants whose work intrinsically leverages vulnerability. 3 slots will be vacant for impromptu participants. The flow of the session will be driven by time and chance, orchestrated by the moderator. Questions will be asked to the participants who will give timed-responses (10 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minute group-discussion). Questions are delivered in 2 ways: 1) From the Moderator or 2) Picked from a basket, which contains written questions from the panel or the audience. Examples of questions: What is your biggest professional fear? How do museum workers numb their vulnerability? What is your career low-point? How have you ‘leaned into’ the discomfort of vulnerability? Is your establishment “connected” to its visitors? Pre-selected participants include: 1. Jen Oleniczak Brown, the founder of The Engaging Educator, a NC and NYC-based organization that specializes in speech, improv, and movement workshops and professional developments. 2. Nikhil Trivedi is an application developer and activist. He works at a museum in Chicago developing web-based software in PHP, Java and Drupal. After hours, he’s a volunteer educator for Rape Victim Advocates, and participates in movements to end oppression. When none of that’s happening, he likes to hike, make herbal medicines, and drink warm glasses of chai. He's a regular contributor at The Incluseum, and his writing has been featured in Model View Culture and Fwd: Museums. He is co-creator of visitorsofcolor.tumblr,com, you can visit his website at, or follow him on Twitter at @nikhiltri. 3. Sina Bahram, is an accessibility consultant, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Prime Access Consulting, whose clients include startups, fortune 1000 companies, and private and nationally-funded museums. As a recognized expert, Sina enjoys collaborating with colleagues of diverse professions to devise innovative and user-centered solutions to difficult problems. 4. Lesley Kadish is a Fellow at Smithsonian Accessibility Program where she researches multisensory learning. She has formerly held posts as a digital curator in Minnesota and Helsinki, and she continues to teach yoga and mindfulness meditation. 5. Shayla Herndon-Edmunds, is the Director of Diversity Education at Wake Forest University, where she is responsible for developing and managing programs and initiatives that will elevate faculty competence and scholarship regarding diversity and inclusion; implementing student diversity education programs; enhancing current staff diversity education programming; and expanding all facets of diversity education within the community. Shayla holds certifications in professional life coaching, emotional intelligence, unconscious bias, and intercultural development. She is a self-published author, motivational speaker, and diversity consultant. 6. Elissa Frankle is a museum educator, visitor experience enthusiast, and advocate for equitable museum labor practices. She has worked on projects in museums that invite participants to take part in the historical research process alongside museum staff members, and that elevate visitor responses and reflections. She hails from Washington, DC. Speakers Session Leader : Trish Oxford, Principal Technologist, Trish Oxford Media Speaker : Sina Bahram, President, Prime Access Consulting Speaker : Elissa Frankle, Digital Projects Coordinator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Speaker : Shayla Herndon-Edmunds, Director of Diversity Education, Wake Forest University Speaker : Lesley Kadish, Fellow, Georgetown University Speaker : NIkhil Trivedi, Senior Systems Analyst, A museum in Chicago MCN 2016 Presenting Sponsor: Piction New Orleans, LA