"Commemoration Reconsidered" - Day 2 / Panel 4 - "The State of 250th Planning"

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In the final panel of the Virtual Summit, attendees will gain a background in 250th planning at the federal, state, and local level. Panelists will discuss how 250th planning stands today, as well as the opportunities and challenges that are arising.

Sara Cureton

Executive Director, New Jersey Historical Commission

Sara Cureton joined the staff of the New Jersey Historical Commission (NJHC) in 2004 and now serves as its executive director. She oversees funding programs totaling $5.5 million that support history organizations and activities across New Jersey. The NJHC also offers a variety of programs in New Jersey history, including an annual conference, professional development training, and an online journal, New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Ms. Cureton’s career began with positions at several historic sites in the Garden State, working primarily on interpretation and historic preservation projects. As director of Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City she developed interpretive programming and oversaw a $3.4 million restoration of New Jersey’s tallest historic beacon. Active in professional organizations, she has served on the boards of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums, the New Jersey Association of Museums, and South Jersey Cultural Alliance. Ms. Cureton earned a B.A. in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, and an M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of York in the U.K. She was recognized by the New Jersey Historical Commission with an Award of Recognition in 2003, received the John Cotton Dana Award for her contributions to New Jersey museums from the New Jersey Association of Museums in 2002, and was honored with the Lillian Levy Standing Ovation Award in 2014 by the South Jersey Cultural Alliance.

Activities surrounding New Jersey’s 350th anniversary in 2014 provided Ms. Cureton with ample opportunity to launch new programming initiatives at the Commission, including an updated series of teaching resources in New Jersey history and a video series titled It Happened Here: New Jersey, for which she serves as an executive producer. The series was recognized with Emmy® nominations in both the New York and Mid-Atlantic regions. Ms. Cureton also served as executive producer for the Emmy®-award winning series NJ Women Vote in 2020.

Ms. Cureton is actively engaged in preparations for the Semiquincentennial in 2026, both as executive director of the New Jersey Historical Commission, and as chair of the Semiquincentennial Coordinating Committee of the American Association for State and Local History. A native of Seattle, Washington, she is now an enthusiastic resident of South Jersey. 

Laura Huerta Migus

Deputy Director, Museums at Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Laura Huerta Migus was appointed Deputy Director, Office of Museum Services, in July 2021. She comes to IMLS following her tenure as Executive Director of the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) in Arlington, Virginia, the world's largest professional society promoting and advocating on behalf of children's museums and children’s museum professionals. In 2018, Laura was named as an Ascend Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and in 2016, she was recognized as a Champion of Change for Summer Opportunity by the White House. She is a noted speaker and author on topics of equity and audience-focused museum practice for institutions including the Board of Science Education of the National Academies of Sciences, the U.S. Play Coalition, and various university texts.

Jennifer Ortiz

Director, Utah Division of State History

Jennifer is director of the Utah Division of State History, Utah's public history organization which oversees the state's historic collections, public history programming, and the Museum of Utah, the state's first state history museum to be opened in 2026. The Peoples of Utah Revisited is the agency's Utah250 and America250 effort to widen the lens of Utah's history and help amplify the undertold history of the last fifty years of the state.

Brian W. Martin, Ph.D. (Moderator)

Owner/Principal Consultant, Perspective+Planning+Performance

A rare combination of historian and business leader, Brian W. Martin provides a range of historical, planning, and project management consulting services to stewards of history across economic sectors.

From 2018-2021, he served the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission and its non-profit partners providing contextual understanding of federal Bicentennial planning, serving at the principal author of the Commission's initial plan Inspiring the American Spirit, and leading early engagement with national program partners and facilitating program recognition nationwide.  For 34 years, Brian rose through the ranks of History Associates Incorporated, serving as president when the firm grew to nearly 80 employees, expanded into new markets, and attained record results.  He received his Ph.D. in History and Policy and Master of Science in Applied History and Social Science from Carnegie Mellon University and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Gettysburg College.

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