MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) recently named Dr. Rhoan Garnett the Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA), a new position at MPM.
MPM says 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."
According to MPM, Garnett will work across the museum to unite departments and teams around IDEA objectives. MPM says Garnett will have a particular emphasis on strategic leadership for the following:
- Academic initiatives and program
- Community engagement
- Exhibits interpretation, conceptualization and content development
- Internship experiences
- Close collaboration with human resources and the MPM IDEA Committee to achieve successful recruitment and retention strategies and institutional equity.
Garnett's research and career has been focused on equitable access to higher education. MPM says he founded We Bridge Belonging in Collaboration (WeBe Collab), which is a mentorship program for historically underrepresented students to access higher education and design a postsecondary path to success. He also founded Youth Experience Mentoring (YXM Consulting), which is a firm that helps existing higher-education focused organizations secure partnerships, funding and community support.
“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 earned a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington.
MPM says 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 has also 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 was born on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean. He came to the United States when he was 18 to study at the University of Southern Maine and was 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.”