November 13, 2020 – In the midst of 2020, Julia Renaud joined the Humanities Council team as a part-time Grantmaking Program Coordinator. During her time at the Council thus far, Julia has supported the Council’s grantmaking efforts, which have tripled thanks to CARES Act-funded pandemic emergency relief general operating support and project grants. After an open search for the full-time Associate Director role following the departure of Logan Hinderliter in August, the Council will welcome Julia into the Grants and Strategic Initiatives role beginning November 30. She brings a passionate dedication to public humanities and is thrilled to continue supporting the diverse multitude of humanities projects enriching communities all over Rhode Island.
Prior to joining the Council, Julia served in public programs, archival, curatorial, and communications roles in museums and cultural organizations in New York and Providence. Julia holds an MA in Public Humanities from Brown University and an AB, summa cum laude, in American History and Literature with a minor in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University.
A Conversation with Julia Renaud:
What attracted you to the Council in the first place?
As a student and then public humanities practitioner in Rhode Island, I first became aware of the Council not through official communications, but by observing firsthand the Council’s active presence and impact in the state. I observed Council staff members at community meetings and events; I encountered the Council’s partnership projects out in the world; I heard other public humanities practitioners mention the Council as a tremendous resource and support. I found the Council’s lived philosophy of showing up for communities in Rhode Island incredibly meaningful, and I look forward to sharing in that practice.
How have you seen the Council make an impact on Rhode Islanders?
In terms of its mission, focus, activities, and resources, the Council is truly a unique and critical presence in the state. I am inspired by and proud of the incredibly diverse and deeply meaningful grant projects that the Council has funded over the years, ranging from documentary films to school curricula, community festivals to individual research projects. I also have observed the Council as a true connector in the sector and state through the Council’s own strategic partnerships and programs; through encouraging productive collaboration between individuals and organizations; and through hosting convenings like Humanities Happy Hours and the Celebration of the Humanities.
As Rhode Island, and the country, continue to navigate the challenges of a global pandemic – what role can the humanities play in bridging differences?
The humanities give us the insight and imaginative spark to understand other perspectives, other experiences, other lives. While learning a community’s history or encountering literature written from another’s point of view may not change how you think and feel, it can allow you to understand how someone else might think and feel differently than you. The humanities help us to recognize each other as fully human and feel less alone in our own humanity, and I do not know a more powerful antidote to isolation, hate, and fear than that.
What are you most excited about for the year to come?
I am incredibly excited to keep connecting with and hopefully expanding the Council’s brilliant community of grantees, partners, colleagues, and friends. The growth of our grantmaking program in the last year has been an incredible opportunity to work with new grantees, and I am looking forward to seeing and supporting the many creative ways that the public humanities sector is responding to the challenges and opportunities of our current moment. I also cannot wait to start working with the Council’s wonderful partners on our current strategic initiatives, and to explore directions for future programs. Finally, I feel privileged to help with the development and implementation of the Council’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access plan in all facets of what we do.