New Year, New Compass

January 28, 2021 9:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Despite the pandemic crisis, the MMA Board of Directors was very busy in 2020 in a way that I believe will change our course and ensure the long term-sustainability and effectiveness of the organization. Most of what they did related to finances, but there is one other effort that gets me so excited!

A major goal for the organization, identified in our least strategic planning process, was the need to increase and diversify our funding sources so that we can have more infrastructure to support the Michigan museums community. You already know that we made some changes to the membership structure for this year, which will increase our capacity and membership revenue. You will hear more about a new long-term resource later this year, which was the second financial project. Both these changes are steps in the right direction for MMA and they will make so much possible moving forward.

The other effort of last year seems less glamorous, but to me it is the core focus of who we are and what we do, so is one of the most important decisions made by the MMA Board in decades, if not ever. In the fall of 2020, the MMA Board of Directors approved a set of goals and objectives related to the professional development we offer. The goals were developed after many hours of discussion by a small board team, and then approved by the full board after additional discussion.  

I have been involved with MMA programming since 2010, and this is the first time during these ten years that MMA has made a commitment to any particular focus in terms of professional development. And honestly, I have not seen any documentation in MMA records to a previous commitment. Instead, the organization has worked towards a more general goal of providing what seemed needed.

I am all for being spontaneous and responsive to members, and this is something that we strive for, but not having any particular focus for our professional development efforts has felt like a burden to me. It is really saying that we will be all things to all people. This would be a challenge for any organization, but for one as small as we are, it caused a lot of inefficiencies and wasted resources.

I have long advocated the need to commit to what we are trying to do. If we know the path we would like to be on, we can set smaller goals and measurable outcomes. If we have set measurable goals, we can know if we have met them and if not, adjust accordingly. If we know what we are trying to do, we can ask the museum community to help us in our efforts.

The downside to committing to one direction is that we are committing to NOT go in another direction. That is frustrating to me because of course I want us to help anyone who needs us. But I also know that the reality is we can only do so much. If we focus on just a couple of areas at a time, we can do a better job there and hopefully be able to focus on something else later.

You can find more information about our professional development goals and objectives on the MMA website, and I would love to hear what you think of them. But in a nutshell, MMA commits to:

  • Foster, develop, and sustain leadership
  • Support and advance social justice in museums
  • Promote community-driven professional development goals

I believe that orienting all we do to commit to these three areas will give us a better compass as we continue to move forward and grow. They are still relatively vague goals, but the objectives and possible strategies we’ve identified will help us get started. I can’t wait to see where these goals take us, and I hope you join us on the journey.


Lisa Craig Brisson
Executive Director

The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

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Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721      lcbrisson@michiganmuseums.org

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