Dr. Nashid Madyun
Florida Humanities is pleased to announce our new Executive Director, Dr. Nashid Madyun. We know you will all enjoy getting to know him as much as we have and we look forward to implementing some exciting new programs and initiatives under his leadership.
Nashid first realized the importance of museums when he learned more about the history of his hometown of Helena, Arkansas. “The town has a really rich cross-section of history,” Nashid said. “Whether it’s Civil War history, African-American leadership during the Reconstruction era, or serving as the roots of blues and gospel music–it’s all there.”
That realization spurred a professional journey as a museum professional, spanning two decades and covering five states. The first stop was a history degree from Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, followed by a stop at Mississippi Valley State University for a graduate degree in history. He then went to work at the Department of Arkansas Heritage, working on projects related to the Elaine Race Riot of 1919. Incidentally, the project was supported by the Arkansas Humanities, Nashid’s first experience in working with State Humanities Councils, along with the University of Arkansas, and a diverse group of community members.
Nashid also worked on a series of oral history projects which captured the culture of quilting and cuisine, along with stories of laboring on the Mississippi River and agriculture. “As the community evolved, those jobs went away, but the stories that needed to be preserved,” he reflected. “I also loved being home. And I loved taking all the knowledge I learned in college and being able to tell stories about the places I was familiar with. Not to mention helping others cultivate the skills to tell their own story.”
That love for storytelling further blossomed into an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. “I have a historical background, preserving history, but I learned that exhibitions and presentations should not always be relegated to a scholarly field,” he explained “I needed to build my capacity to merge a variety of authentic storytelling techniques.” The result led to a deeper impact across cultures and generations. “The third-grader and the senior citizen both have a need to experience an exhibition and walk away with something special in their heart.”
After working for the Department of Arkansas Heritage, he obtained a Doctorate in Management, conducting research in nonprofit sustainability and organizational leadership. Through his work in museums, Nashid found new opportunities in Memphis. “I was recruited to start a museum about soul music,” he said. “Memphis is another important city for American music and the home of Stax Records.” By raising $12 million in funding, the museum he helped to start became the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. In addition to welcoming thousands of global visitors every year, the museum developed an educational software system that is now used in twenty-seven states.
Most recently, Nashid served as the Director of the Southeastern Regional Black Archives at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee. “Archives are another critical place for storytelling,” Nashid said. “The original documents and sources are needed to help scholars craft stories that are shared with the public.” As director of the archives, Nashid raised $3.7 million in philanthropic gifts from public and private donors. He also raised funds for the renovation project of the Historic House, as well as launching a new auxiliary African American Art Gallery in downtown Tallahassee.
“I believe in the value of having public spaces to celebrate the humanities,” Nashid said. “Museums, libraries, historical societies–they are all critical to the strength of the community. If museums are not there to collect stories, then we risk losing it all and not knowing anything about our neighbors.”
He continues to teach courses in Humanities, African American Art, U.S. History, and graduate courses in business. Dr. Madyun has served on a host of boards and public service commissions, including the Blues Foundation, the Austin Arts Council, Arkansas Black History Commission, Virginia State Heritage Preservation Board, and the Visit Florida Cultural, Heritage, Rural And Nature Committee, and the African American History Task Force for the State of Florida.
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