To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2020 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. We are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.
The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.
Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.
Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2020 award winners!
Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2020 award for Museum Advocate.
Stephen White has dedicated his career toward addressing education equity. His lifelong passion toward improving the human condition through science and education has pushed his focus toward strengthening museums and their ability to help those who are disproportionately impacted and underserved.
With his background in law and public affairs from his time working at the United States Senate, the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Ohio Senate, Stephen’s past experience with advocacy is an invaluable asset to our field, and was made all the more important during the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, Stephen testified at the Ohio General Assembly to advocate for economic support for the museum industry and the critical role we play in our communities, then served as a lead voice with the Ohio governor’s office to help craft guidelines to reopen museums in a safe and efficient manner. He was a founder of COSI’s Learning Lunchbox initiative, which we heard about earlier, enabling museums to engage with local officials to get much needed education and nutritional supplies to families across Ohio.
And most recently, during the negotiations surround the federal CARES Act, Stephen worked closely with national partners at the American Alliance of Museums and his contacts in the House and Senate, to help ensure that museums were included as part of the language of the Save Our Stages portion of the bill’s funding.
Stephen’s local, state, and federal advocacy work in the past year alone has benefited countless Ohio museums, and helped to open up access to life-saving funds for many museums in the state and beyond. But he’s not done yet. As Barry Szczesny, Director of Government Relations at the American Alliance of Museums noted, “Stephen is continuing to lead efforts for museum advocacy in 2021 for upcoming stimulus bills. He has demonstrated that he is a champion for Ohio museums by consistently promoting the growth and sustainability of Ohio museums, and museums across the nation.
Do you know someone who consistently promotes the growth and sustainability of Ohio museums? Be sure to nominate them for the 2021 award for Museum Advocate! Learn more here.
One of the fun features of OMA's 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony was being able to recognize our honorees "accepting" their award via video message. See below for Stephen White's award acceptance video.