FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2022
MILWAUKEE PUBLIC MUSEUM HIRES DIRECTOR OF INCLUSION, DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND ACCESSIBILITY (IDEA)
RHOAN GARNETT, PhD, TO LEAD MUSEUM’S EFFORTS TO GROW COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES AND ENSURE DIVERSE VOICES ARE REPRESENTED AT MUSEUM
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) is pleased to announce Dr. Rhoan Garnett has been named Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA), a new position at MPM. In this role, Garnett will set the strategic and programmatic direction for IDEA initiatives, integrating diversity with the core vision, mission and values of MPM. In addition, he will be instrumental in ensuring the future museum represents the different voices throughout history and present day that make up Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
“We’re a research-based educational institution with millions of objects and specimens from across the globe, and we want to make sure those items and the stories behind them are accessible to all audiences and inclusive of varying perspectives,” said MPM President and CEO Dr. Ellen Censky. “Through Rhoan’s past experience and research, we know he will help MPM develop programs that better reach and engage communities from diverse backgrounds, including underserved or underrepresented populations.”
Garnett’s research and career have focused on equitable access to higher education. He founded We Bridge Belonging in Collaboration (WeBe Collab), a mentorship program for historically underrepresented students to access higher education and design a postsecondary path to success, as well as Youth Experience Mentoring (YXM Consulting), a consulting firm that helps existing higher-education focused organizations secure partnerships, funding and community support. Garnett earned a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington. His research explored the lack of capacity within K-12 school structures to provide historically underrepresented students with the kinds of personalized college-promoting networks, resources and tools required in the postsecondary world. Garnett’s dissertation won the Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2019.
“The information and findings of my dissertation can be utilized in the design and construction as well as improvement of support systems not just within schools, but across many institutions like MPM, which seeks to strengthen its community partners and prioritize community input in future museum-related conversations,” Garnett said.
Garnett will work across the Museum to unite departments and teams around IDEA objectives, but with a particular emphasis on strategic leadership for (1) academic initiatives and program, (2) community engagement, (3) exhibits interpretation, conceptualization and content development, (4) internship experiences and (5) close collaboration with human resources and the MPM IDEA Committee to achieve successful recruitment and retention strategies and institutional equity.
Born and raised on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean, Garnett sees himself in many of the young people he’s hoping to reach. He came to the United States when he was 18 to study at the University of Southern Maine—the first person in his family to go to college.
“I’m living and walking in this world as a Black man, as a first-generation college student, as a low-income college student,” Garnett said. “In addition to my professional background, my personal experiences help me gain trust with community members. That’s how I see myself—really being a bridge between the community and the Museum.”
About the Milwaukee Public Museum
The Milwaukee Public Museum is Wisconsin’s natural history museum, welcoming over half a million visitors annually. Located in downtown Milwaukee, the Museum was chartered in 1882, opened to the public in 1884, and currently houses more than 4 million objects in its collections. MPM has three floors of exhibits that encompass life-size dioramas, walk-through villages, world cultures, dinosaurs, a rainforest, and a live butterfly garden, as well as the Daniel M. Soref Dome Theater & Planetarium. MPM is operated by Milwaukee Public Museum, Inc., a private, non-profit company, and its facilities and collections are held in trust and supported by Milwaukee County for the benefit of the public.