COMPLETED – Ajah Faison was fully immersed in the overall activities and operations of AAAM, including as many of the 1,260+ affiliates throughout the five regions of the US as possible, while specifically focusing on the planning and execution of the 2023 AAAM Annual Conference (“(C/c)onference”). As a result, the project activities outlined by AAAM for this In-Depth, Field-Specific Fellowship and Professional Development program contributed to achieving, in most cases exceeding, intended results.

a. Partnered with AAAM’s Executive Director, Program Coordinator, Board Members, and Administrative Staff to support the cultivation of key relationships with affiliates in furtherance of advancing the mission and identifying, documenting, and addressing dynamic organizational needs.

During (bi)weekly check-ins with Camille Vincent, Ms. Faison discussed assignments, conference updates and logistics for onboarding five newly hired AAAM interns. These regular meetings enabled Ms. Faison to gain administrative skills and learn to optimize her time management skills while taking a full course load at school. Additionally, she learned from observing and participating in the “behind-the-scenes” processes resulting in presenting a successful conference. The time, energy, and effort invested in these project activities enabled her to manage her expectations and anticipate the outcomes corresponding to each process (component). These learned skills, derived from practically applying the direction and advice considered during each check-in, will prove to be beneficial beyond this invaluable fellowship program.

The supervision driven by the established goals and objectives for the week enabled Ms. Faison to keep in mind the importance of each assignment and realize the benefits of carefully and thoroughly following the guidance and direction provided. These activities, and adherence to the clearly defined processes, are in harmony with introducing and refining project management core competencies while laying the foundation for her participation in the planning and successful implementation of conference-related project tasks.

Professional mentoring meetings with Executive Director, Dr. Vedet Coleman-Robinson, to discuss conference related assignments and trainings enhanced Ms. Faison’s professional development and interest in the field. These meetings also provided an opportunity for her to sharpen her email etiquette and Human Resource Management skills.

Prior to conference, she completed training modules – a combination of museum/AAAM-based, customer service, and email etiquette. Each module broadened her understanding of organizational operations overall as well as how AAAM, as a unit, functions successfully.

Before Conference:

  • ●  Assisted with reviewing proposals for conference sessions
  • ●  Assisted with contracts for conference speakers and guests
  • ●  Created a tracking spreadsheet for conference sessions, speakers, and guests
  • ●  Communicated with conference speakers and guests to make sure they signed their agreementsand were registered for conference

During Conference:

  • ●  Point person for six interns, and recipients of our travel scholarship
  • ●  Assisted with filling conference bags for guests
  • ●  Assisted with onsite registration and troubleshooting
  • ●  Assisted with planning for conference plenaries and evening events at the following host sites:Frist Art Museum, Fisk University, and the National Museum of African American Music
    • ○  Orchestrated transportation for interns, board members, and conference registrants
    • ○  Made sure board member requests were triaged and referred to the appropriate individualwith the knowledge and ability to address their needs
  • ●  Assisted and served as a point of contact for board members and the conference planning teamAfter Conference:
  • ●  Served as a point of contact for the conference media team responsible for recording each session
  • ●  Strengthened skills corresponding to paying very close attention to detail as speaker agreements were reviewed, line-by-line, to ensure the incorporation of required information so that conference proceeded smoothly
  • ●  Followed up with six interns regarding their conference experience and their recommended refinements for future conferences
  • ●  Compiled the reflections submitted by the six interns and created a cohesive document. With the support of Executive Director and Camille Vincent, accurately conveyed their experiences to their designated host sites and shared with Association of African American Museums members via email and website postingsPROJECT RESULTS“I feel prepared from the perspective of the museum field administrative side as this was the focal point of a number of my assignments and activities. Although I have had experience of exploring a museum, I also had the privilege of participating in the operation of a museum organization. This is something I would not have learned if not for this fellowship. I desire to further develop my knowledge and understanding of the operations of physical museums and make a meaningful contribution as a result of applying the disciplines and skills acquired while earning my business degree. This interests me because I enjoy this particular aspect of the field of museum administration. It is an avenue that enables me to help people in a way I never thought was possible while making a greater impact on African American focused museums. It is important to me to engage my generation. This fellowship has enabled me to learn the foundational principles resulting in my building a platform to further publicize what one can really do in the museum field. Many people think the museum field consists only of exhibits. I now know that far more is involved and, although not having a history or museum educational background, I can make a measurable impact on this field and they can as well.”

    “The support I have received from AAAM has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to finding a permanentposition. Somuchso,AAAMofferedmetheopportunitytoremainwiththeorganizationandfill the position of AAAM | AACRN (African American Civil Rights Network) Grant Managers. This professional

IMLS Grants for African American History and Culture Association of African American Museums (AAAM) In-Depth, Field-Specific AAAM Fellowship & Professional Development

opportunity will give me the chance to further develop my skills in the museum field and foster collaborations with emergent and mid-level museum professionals.”

—Ajah Faison

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Administrative Training

Attention to detail

Museum Tours

Email and writing Etiquette

Customer Service

Human Resource Management Training

Time Management

2. COMPLETED – Travel, Supplies, Material and Equipment to support Ajah Faison.

  1. IMLS Convening Travel
  2. Equipment, software licensing, and AppleCare+ Coverage to include 1) a 27-inch iMac computer with a 6-Core processor, 512 GB storage, and Retina 5K Display; 2) a 10.2-inch iPad Wi-Fi, 256 GB, Smart Cover, Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard for iPad, and Magic Mouse; and 3) HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M653dn

As a result of careful and responsible stewardship, the resources allocated by AAAM for this In-Depth, Field-Specific Fellowship and Professional Development program were utilized well. Additionally, costs were minimized while generating maximum value. Further detail, along with an itemization, may be found in the separately submitted Federal Financial Report.


This project has enhanced the expertise and professional skill set for Ms. Faison by introducing her to an approach for lending her Human Resources and business management talents to a field she never considered. The skills she obtained in the areas of customer service, successfully collaborating with a team consisting of individuals with varying personalities, and administering payroll processes for a team of five, are examples of newly introduced and mastered assignments. These skills, among several others, are integral tools that will enable her to establish, and further deepen, new partnerships and collaborations among museums and institutions of higher learning.

The “Lessons Learned” and successful outcomes resulting from this generous IMLS AAHC Award are the catalysts for AAAM taking the next, logical step. That being, further developing this In-Depth, Field-Specific Fellowship & Professional Development program by extending this opportunity to two, additional fellows.

Champions of lifelong learning, in partnership with IMLS, AAAM desires to continue to build capacity by investing in comprehensive professional development initiatives designed to nurture emerging museum professionals preparing to enter the African and African American focused Museum field.

AAAM regularly encourages its members to respond to IMLS funding opportunities. This messaging, coupled


IMLS Grants for African American History and Culture Association of African American Museums (AAAM) In-Depth, Field-Specific AAAM Fellowship & Professional Development

with its actions, enables AAAM to further demonstrate the importance of the transformative and critical funding generously offered by IMLS.

The professional maturation – as observed and documented above – of Ms. Faison contributes to AAAM realizing its short and long-term capacity building objectives outlined in the, “AAAM Strategic Plan – Action Steps – 2017-2021” (select strategic planning wording to access the strategic plan).   NOTE: This plan reflects the needs detailed in the Phase I and Phase II of the IMLS-funded assessments conducted by People, Places, and Design. The organizational development goals of this project will be incorporated in the ongoing operation of AAAM and included, as appropriate, in its bylaws, policies and procedures, and next strategic plan revision.

The in-depth professional development program has enabled this gifted fellow to fully accomplish the responsibilities as an AAAM Program Coordinator. Naturally, the recent announcement highlighting her promotion as the newest AAAM | AACRN Grants Manager came as no surprise to the AAAM family of affiliates, and demonstrates the effectiveness of this officially named, “In-Depth, Field-Specific AAAM Fellowships & Professional Development” program.