Christina Barr, program outreach coordinator at the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nev., has been named executive director of Nevada Humanities. Barr previously served as Folklife program associate for the Nevada Arts Council in Las Vegas. She will assume her new duties Jan. 15, 2009, taking over from executive director, Judith Winzeler, who is retiring after 24 years at the helm of the organization.
“We are extraordinarily pleased that Christina will join us as executive director,” said Jim Frey, chair of the Nevada Humanities board of trustees. “She brings a strong record of leadership and demonstrates a particularly strong understanding of programming, fundraising and nonprofit administration. We had a very strong pool of candidates, but Christina stood out.”
The Nevada Humanities board of trustees will be honoring Winzeler’s impressive service by reinstituting an annual award and naming it the Winzeler Humanities Award, to be given each year to people and organizations making significant contributions to the support and understanding of the humanities in Nevada. “Judy is the person who has certainly done the most to meet the standards of excellence associated with the award," said Frey.
“Nevada Humanities is positioned to move to the next level,” said Christina Barr. “I am impressed by the organization’s strategic plan and the new directions in which we are moving. The staff is outstanding. They are devoted to the cultural life of the state, and they want Nevada Humanities to have a positive impact on the lives of Nevadans.”
During her years at the Western Folklife Center, Barr undertook research projects around the West on topics ranging from contemporary Latino culture in Nevada and the Pacific Northwest, to creating social networks through community foodways. These projects encouraged thoughtful engagement of issues important to the region such as the use of natural resources, immigration, rapid change and sense of place. At the heart of Barr’s work has been a strong desire to bring people together to encourage creative expression, strengthen community and invigorate the region’s cultural wealth.
In addition to her work with the Western Folklife Center, Barr has regularly consulted with agencies and organizations around the country. “I have assisted on traditional arts programs, grant review panels and evaluations,” Barr said. “I am currently the chair of the Public Programs Section of the American Folklore Society representing colleagues around the world as we share ideas and research, and develop new initiatives.”
Christina Barr likes to quote author Wallace Stegner who wrote “no place is a place until it has had a poet.” She believes this is especially true of Nevada where poetry has articulated important shared truths and contributed to the state’s sense of identity. “This is the power of the humanities,” Barr said, “to embrace, interpret, reveal and preserve our important cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. I have worked in Nevada’s cities and isolated rural counties, and I’ve met Nevadans from all walks of life, of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, with different beliefs, hopes, and fears.”
Barr holds a master’s in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. She has also worked as a folklorist for the Nevada Arts Council and the Vermont Folklife Center.