FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC—President Barack Obama announced two new appointees to the National Museum and Library Services Board, Althemese Pemberton Barnes and Vishakha N. Desai. The board is the advisory body for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and members are selected to serve based on their expertise and commitment to libraries or museums.
IMLS Director Susan Hildreth said, "We are looking forward to working with Ms. Barnes and Dr. Desai. I know they will provide valuable knowledge and expertise that will enhance the work we do at IMLS. We are grateful for their willingness to engage in this important public service."
Ms. Barnes is the executive director of the John G. Riley Museum, which she founded in 1996. In 1997, she established the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network, a statewide professional museum association. She served in Florida’s Departments of Education and Labor as an employment counselor and program specialist, retiring in 1995. From 1965 to 1970, she was a music instructor in the Leon County Schools in Tallahassee, Florida. She has worked as a consultant on several oral history and cultural development projects, and directed the publication of historical books, heritage trail maps, guides, and documentaries. She is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Florida Heritage Foundation, the Florida Association of Museums, the Association of African American Museums, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Ms. Barnes received a B.S. and an M.S. from Florida A&M University.
Dr. Desai is special advisor for global affairs to President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University and professor of practice at its School of International and Public Affairs. She is senior advisor to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for global policy and programs, and president emerita of Asia Society, an organization she led for the last eight years. From 1977 to 1990, Dr. Desai worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in a variety of roles, ultimately serving as assistant curator of Indian, Southeast Asia, and Islamic collections (1981-1990) and as the head of academic programs (1981-1988). Dr. Desai has been a visiting professor at numerous universities and was an assistant and associate professor at the University of Massachusetts from 1988 to 1990. Dr. Desai is on the board of the Brookings Institution and is an advisor and reviewer for the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs. She served as the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors from 1998 to 1999 and was on the boards of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc., Asian University for Women, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. Dr. Desai received a B.A. from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
The newly confirmed board members replace Christina Orr-Cahall and Ioannis N. Miaoulis, whose terms have expired.
About the National Museum and Library Services Board
The National Museum and Library Services Board is an advisory body that includes the director and deputy directors of Institute of Museum and Library Service and twenty presidentially appointed members of the general public who have demonstrated expertise in, or commitment to, library or museum services. Informed by its collectively vast experience and knowledge, the Board advises the IMLS director on general policy and practices, and on selections for the National Medals for Museum and Library Service.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.