First Americans Museum Preview

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Rotary Club of Okla. City Preparedness Plan




James Pepper Henry is the Director and CEO of the First Americans Museum (FAM), a new cultural institution located in Oklahoma City. Its mission is to educate the broader public about the unique cultures, diversity, history, and contributions of the 39 federally recognized tribes that were removed to Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma. The facility is scheduled to open in September 2021.
Most recently, “Jim” was the Executive Director of Oklahoma’s premier art, history, and culture museum, the Gilcrease Museum. He co-led the successful $65 million campaign to update and expand the facility. Jim also served as a commissioner on the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission and was a key proponent and facilitator to establish “Native American Day” as an official City of Tulsa day of recognition.
Prior to Gilcrease Museum, Jim was the Director and CEO of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ. He developed programming and exhibitions that significantly increased visitorship and membership. He was the first enrolled Native American to be at the helm of the 83-year old institution.
From 2007 to 2013, Jim was Director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Alaska’s art, history and science institution. He oversaw the completion of the Museum’s $110 million, 80,000 square foot expansion, including the debut of the new Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center exhibition hall and the new Imaginarium Discovery Center.
Jim is a former Associate Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian where, for nearly ten years, he managed a wide variety of Native American community-oriented programs, services, and traveling exhibitions. Jim played a pivotal role in the establishment and launch of the American Indian museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC that opened to the public in 2004.
Jim is a member of the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma and of Muscogee Creek heritage. He is the inaugural Director of the Kaw Nation’s Kanza Museum.
He is a graduate of the University of Oregon and a recipient of the University’s prestigious Council for Minority Education Leadership Award. He is also a graduate of the Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California.
Jim has contributed essays to various publications including Stewards of the Sacred, co-published by the American Association of Museums and Harvard University, and; Native Universe: Voices of Indian America, co-published by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society.

Chair of the Day

Kathy L. Williams earned her Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership from Oklahoma City University in 2011 to better serve as a community volunteer, which has enhanced her understanding of the operations of nonprofits involving the arts, early childhood education, youth leadership programs, women’s health issues, and disaster relief efforts. She is also a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City Community College and is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City Class X1 and Leadership Oklahoma Class XXVI.

Kathy’s career as a community volunteer began in community in 1983. Her passion is to help people through her community work.

She currently serves as a Trustee of the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority and serves on the boards of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits as Immediate Past Chair, Scissortail Park Foundation, United Way of Central Oklahoma, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, The Civic Center Foundation, Trustee for Oklahoma City University, and the OCU Petree College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council, OU Breast Institute Advisory Board and South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce as a life time.

She has served as Chairman of the American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma, Chairman of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, President of Youth Leadership Exchange (YLX), President of Women of the South, President of the OU Breast Institute, and President of Sister Cities of Oklahoma City. She also served on the boards of Integris Southwest Medical Center, Leadership Oklahoma City, and the Oklahoma City Arts Council, and co-chaired the Festival of the Arts in 2005 and a past Co-Chair of the Allied Arts Campaign.

Kathy has been inducted into the Alumni Halls of Fame of Oklahoma City Community College and Del City High School, was the 2002 Citizen of the Year of the South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, is a Circle of Excellence honoree of The Journal Record’s Fifty Making a Difference, was recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award presented by Leadership Oklahoma City and was Rotarian of the Year of the Downtown Rotary Club in 2018 and inducted into The Societies of Oklahoma City University in 2019.

A breast cancer survivor, Kathy said her role with the American Cancer Society is one of her greatest personal accomplishments. Kathy, a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, has been married to John Michael Williams for 38 years and together they raised four children, Shad, Chris, Jeff and Paige and they have seven grandchildren.

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