by Paul R. Spitzzeri
In the aftermath of the leaving of the Homestead in the last couple of months by Alexandra Rasic and Jennifer Scerra, we are very fortunate that we’ve been able to bring back two of the staff members who were let go in June 2020 due to budget cuts, while also being able to add a new part-time staff member, to boot. So, while we obviously will miss the considerable contributions and tremendous talents of Alex and Jennifer, we are happy to welcome back Isis Quan and Steve Dugan and to also introduce Beatriz Rivas to our staff.
Isis joined us just before Alex’s last day in September and she is working a 28-hour week as a program specialist. A large part of that specialization is the monitoring, maintaining, planning and writing for our several social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. While these are important parts of our programming and outreach at any time, they have been even more crucial during the pandemic as core ways for us to remain connected with the public as on-site programs have been either shuttered or limited.
In addition, we will be able to benefit from Isis’ creativity with programs—as yesterday’s post noted, Jennifer was very involved in events dealing with health, gardens and landscape, and the fiction book club. Isis was her partner in developing much of these and we very much look forward to working with her on these and other areas of programming. She is also helping now with our staff e-newsletter and we expect that she will make many other contributions going forward.
With Jennifer’s departure effective this past Friday, we are happy that Steve will be rejoining us on a full-time basis, starting on the 17th (which just happens to be William Workman’s birthday, so there are two reasons to celebrate!) Steve’s deep knowledge of the museum from his over fifteen years of previous employment cover such areas as education and interpretation, administration, and volunteer management and his return will involve our being able to tap into that storehouse as well as help with future directions.
For example, Steve and volunteer Sherri Salmans conducted genealogy workshops over the course of several years and we will definitely be looking at reintroducing those when conditions warrant. He also has avid interests in medicine and health, baseball, politics and other subjects and we can look forward to his working with us in those areas, including on-site and virtual programs, blog and social media posts, and in other ways. Helping with volunteer recruitment, scheduling, communications and in other ways will also be important areas of contribution for the museum.
Isis and Steve also are very familiar, clearly, with the Homestead’s history and so will be helpful with public, scheduled and school tours and in other interpretive programs, especially as look to retool post-pandemic and with our staffing arrangement being smaller than it was in the past. This means working on a planning process that all of us will work on in coming months to plot out a roadmap for the Homestead’s future programming.
We are also glad to have Beatriz on board as a 24-hour per week programs assistant. She is making a career change, having been running, with partners, a leathercraft business, but now is looking to get into education. Bea has just finished studies in history, sociology and social justice at Mt. San Antonio College and is in the process of applying to one of the regional University of California branches to further her education starting next fall.
Beatriz is a member of the Yaqui tribe of Native Americans whose lands were in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States and she is passionate about the history and current conditions of indigenous people of the borderlands region. We are looking forward to working with Bea as she gets familiarized with our public program operations and in finding ways to merge her experiences and hopes for the future as part of her work with the museum.
The diversity of the people who work at the Homestead, as volunteers as well as paid staff, is clearly an enormous asset. Everyone brings a specific set of skills and talents, interests, and abilities to whatever it is they contribute. With “seasoned” veterans like Isis and Steve, we know what they have brought to the museum, but there are always other future opportunities to pursue. In Bea’s case, we are excited to do what we can to help her as she pursues a new career path and in seeing what she can offer to the Homestead and its visitors.
Change can certainly be challenging, but also highly rewarding because of the new directions that invariably will be charted, both for the institution and for the individuals who work in it. As we look toward whatever a post-pandemic environment involves with the planning and preparation that is to be undertaken, we are excited to have Isis, Steve and Bea as part of our team.