Ellen Owens is an integral part of the Penn Museum’s Building Transformation—a dramatic reconfiguration that reimagines the visitor experience through new signature galleries and programming. She participates on several teams—from executive to education to communications—as a representative for the diverse public, school and educational groups, and fvisitors with disabilities. Ellen entered her role at the Museum with significant leadership abilities and sought to grow her skills even further through the Arts + Business Council’s Designing Leadership program. Designing Leadership provided Ellen with additional tools to manage the complex needs of multiple populations and viewpoints at the Museum, along with important connections to peers in creative industries outside of the museum sector.
Shortly after completing Designing Leadership, Ellen envisioned Global Guides, a new program that would employ local immigrants and refugees to interpret the Museum’s new signature galleries, offering paid tour guide positions to people from the countries that these galleries represent. Global Guides is a departure from traditional gallery interpretation and diversifies museum staff. It incorporates historical information about the artifacts, combined with “lived” perspectives from the guides, embracing personal stories and making connections from past to present. Through a series of discussions, Ellen received internal stakeholder approval, collaborated with partner institutions HIAS Pennsylvania and Nationalities Service Center, and secured full program funding from the Barra Foundation’s Catalyst Fund.
Global Guides tours begin in May, following the opening of the Middle East Galleries. Four talented individuals will give these specialized tours: Yaroub Al-Obaidi, Abdulhadi Al-Karfawi, and Ali Arif from Iraq, and Moumena Saradar from Syria.Free weekend tours will be available, along with sponsored opportunities for schools and community groups and paid tours for adult groups. After the initial launch, the program will focus on the renewed Mexico and Central America Galleries and Africa Galleries (opening September 2019). This particular approach is new to United States museums, making for truly unique visitor opportunities. Ellen credits her training at Designing Leadership as a component to making this vision a reality!
May 23, 2018 marks the 33rd annual Arts + Business Council Awards Celebration, a major moment for milestones. Together with you, our “Partners in Imagination,” we’ll be honoring the exceptional leaders, innovators, partnerships and volunteers below, who work to make our region culturally vibrant and economically strong. To purchase ticket packages and individual tickets, please click here.
The 2018 Designing Leadership Alumni Award is generously supported by: