Officers

Linda Shenk

President

Linda Shenk joined the Board of Directors for Humanities Iowa because she is interested in Iowa’s stories – from those of decades of diverse immigration to those of our prairies and rivers.


Linda is an Associate Professor of English at Iowa State University. In her research, she applies her background in storytelling and performance to how researchers and community members can co-create narratives that foster relationship building, action, and resilience. She teaches courses that bring together Shakespeare, Climate Change Theatre Action, and community empowerment. She can often be found out walking with her family and their three dogs, and she loves hiking, particularly at Dolliver State Park.

Board Members

Marilyn Baszczynski

Director

Kelly Baum

Director

Dr. Kelly Baum is the John and Mary Pappajohn Director of the Des Moines Art Center. Prior to joining the Art Center in May 2023, she worked for eight years as the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dr. Baum has also worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Princeton University Art Museum. Over the course of her 24-year career, she has organized over twenty exhibitions and published twenty-five catalogues, articles, and essays on modern and contemporary art. Dr. Baum holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware and was a 2018 fellow at the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Gaye Shannon Burnett

Director

LaNisha Cassell

Director

LaNisha Cassell is the Executive Director of the African American Museum of Iowa. LaNisha was the Executive Director of the Marion Foundation and Alumni Association for 11 years. LaNisha currently serves on Superintendent Grover’s Community Cabinet, the Greater Cedar Rapids

Community Foundation Nonprofit Advisory Council, and on the stakeholder advisory board for the

Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Iowa. Among her many accolades, LaNisha was recently recognized as a 2024 Robert Chadima Visionary award recipient. A native of Washington, DC, LaNisha earned her BS in English from Frostburg State University and is currently pursuing her Master of Strategic Leadership from Mt. Mercy University. She and her

husband, Karl are the parents of Lydia and Solomon. LaNisha values her faith, family and community.

Janet Flanagan

Director

Janet Flanagan, a Sioux City native and a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans, is newly retired after a 45-year career in marketing, communications and fundraising. She worked in television news, healthcare and education and served as an adjunct instructor at Morningside University.

Janet currently serves on the boards of Tolerance Week, Inc., the Siouxland Medication Education Foundation, and Rotary Club of Sioux City. She also works with marketing of Goodfellow Charities for kids and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused or neglected children.

Janet has previously served on the boards the Sioux City Public Museum, Siouxland Community Foundation, United Way of Siouxland and many other non-profits.

Janet has joined the board because she has a passion for history and community enrichment and wellness activities. Her interests include grant-writing, pickleball, walking her dog, and family travel.

William (Bill) Friedricks

Director

William (Bill) Friedricks is professor emeritus of history and the former director of the Iowa History Center at Simpson College, where he taught for thirty-three years. He has authored many books on Iowa topics, including histories of the Des Moines Register, the Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, and several biographies. He was the recipient of Humanities Iowa’s Iowa History Prize and the Des Moines Public Library Foundation’s Iowa Author Award. His most recent book, Saved by Schindler: The Life of Celina Karp Biniaz, was awarded the Midwest Independent Publishers Association’s gold medal for the best book in history in 2023.

Christine Shea

Director

Christine is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and Linguistics at the University of Iowa. She is interested in how language connects to identity, how language use reflects relationships of power and how language justice can mediate communities’ understanding of these relationships to guarantee full participation by all. She regularly teaches classes focused on bilingualism, Spanish linguistics and sociolinguistics. She has participated in community outreach and engagement projects focused on supporting multilingual communities across Iowa.

Cynthia Sweet

Director

Cynthia Sweet has served as the Executive Director of the Iowa Museum Association since 2007. From 2015-2020, Cyndi led the development of the Teaching Iowa History program. From 2021-2024, Sweet led the development of STEPS-IMA, a learning cohort that utilizes the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations developed by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). Sweet’s national service includes service from 2011-2017 as co-chair of the informal National Alliance of State Museum Associations (now the Coalition of State Museum Associations, also known as COSMA) and served from 2017-2019 as the first elected President of COSMA. Sweet will be honored with the Distinguished Career Award from the Association of Midwest Museums in August 2024 in Columbus, Ohio.

Jan Warren

Director

Jan serves as Community Engagement Manager in the University of Iowa’s Office of Community Engagement. She also founded, and serves as the coordinator for, the Iowa Student Poet Ambassador (ISPA) program launched in 2020. The ISPA program is designed to recognize and celebrate a talented student poet, who in turn, will validate and support the voices of young people in Iowa, and raise awareness of the literary arts. Jan has had a lengthy career in education and the arts. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Art History from Michigan State University and her master’s degree in Counselor Education with a specialization in College Student Development from the University of Iowa.

Kevin Mason

Director

Kevin Mason, PhD, is a rural and environmental historian of the American Midwest. An Associate Professor of History at Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa, Mason chairs the Department of History, Geography, and Political Science. He brings past experiences with service with organizations including the State Historical Society of Iowa, Preservation Iowa, the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Wright on the Park, the Winnebago Historical Society, and the Forest City Historic Preservation Commission. An author of various articles and a forthcoming book on Iowa’s environmental history, Mason also founded the public-facing digital humanities project “Notes on Iowa” to better connect Iowans with their shared history.

Vince Gotera

Iowa Poet Laureate

Vince Gotera was appointed Poet Laureate of Iowa in 2024. He has served as a professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa since 1995. He was Editor of the North American Review, the nation’s longest-lived literary journal, 2000-2016, and also of Star*Line, the print journal of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, 2017-2020. Gotera has published over 300 poems and is the author of four poetry collections: Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, and The Coolest Month. He has a book of poetry forthcoming in 2024: Dragons and Rayguns.

Tanya Rastogi

Iowa Student Poet Ambassador

Tanya Rastogi is a junior at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. Her art and writing are published or forthcoming in several literary magazines including Gone Lawn, The Adroit Journal, Kalopsia Literary, and others. She is the founding editor of online journal The Seraphic Review. In 2023, she received a national Scholastic gold medal for her poem ‘Three Generations’. In school, Tanya is heavily involved in the music department–she plays flute in band and is a member of choir and jazz choir. When she isn’t participating in some form of the arts, Tanya enjoys watching video essays and visiting cafes with her friends.

Advisory Board

Gretta Berghammer

Advisory Board Member

Gretta served as Professor of Theatre for Youth and Communities at the University of Northern Iowa for more than 35 years. She is thrilled to bring her love of the arts to the Iowa Humanities Board.

David Eckert

Advisory Board Member

David Eckert has been working in the field of librarianship for more than twenty-five years. After completing the Library Science master’s program at Kent State University, he worked for three years as a music reference librarian at Samford University in Birmingham, AL before moving abroad to serve as a school librarian for a pre-k through 12th grade bilingual school in the Dominican Republic. Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Eckert started as a teen librarian in the Camden County Library System in New Jersey and rose to the position of head of youth services. In 2007, Eckert moved to Jonesboro to take over the position of assistant library director at the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library, working up to becoming the director in 2013. In 2022, Mr. Eckert became the director of the Waterloo Public Library in Iowa.

Trevor Harvey

Advisory Board Member

Trevor Harvey is an associate professor of instruction in ethnomusicology at The University of Iowa. He is an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) and serves as editor and producer of “Ethnomusicology Today,” the SEM podcast.

Trevor is a frequent collaborator and volunteer with a variety of local arts and community organizations and currently serves as president of HTLIC Media, Inc., an Iowa City-based non-profit organization committed to supporting the diverse voices of local artists in the creative development and production of socially-engaged, multimedia musical projects. He is also a co-founder and co-organizer of the Iowa City Front Porch Music Festival.

Among his many interests, Trevor enjoys bicycling and camping (especially together), cooking, and ultimate frisbee.

Treyla M. Lee

Advisory Board Member

Ms. Treyla M. Lee is a native of Sioux City, IA and has a Masters Degree in Education from Wayne State College. She is currently employed as a Recruiter for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids/Dave Thomas Foundation/Four Oaks Family & Children’s Services. 

Ms. Lee serves on several professional and community boards and organizations including working as Program Director for The First Tee of Siouxland, Ms. Lee is Vice President of Omaha Graduate Chapter and 2019 Mid-Western Regional Conference Chairman of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. which is the First African American Sorority founded in 1908, that helps alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, and to be of ‘Service to All Mankind”. Ms. Lee  is also Vice Chairman of the local NAACP chapter and former Miss Black Iowa. Treyla enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, golfing, working out and encouraging others to pursue their “GREATNESS”