In February, the Museum Association of New York (MANY) announced their 2023 Awards of Distinction, and among the winners is our very own Olivia Khristan. Olivia received that award in person at this year’s annual conference “Finding Center: Access, Inclusion, Participation, and Engagement” in Syracuse, NY, this past weekend. The Rising Star distinction awarded to Olivia celebrates museum professionals with five years or less experience who think creatively, inspire change, spark innovation, and exemplify leadership.
“New York’s museums and museum professionals are reimagining and reinventing their roles within their communities, how they interpret their stories and collections, and the visitor experience,” said Natalie Stetson, Executive of the Erie Canal Museum and MANY Program Committee Co-Chair. “This year’s award winners are outstanding examples for the museum field.”
Olivia joined the Museum in September 2018 as School Services Educator with previous experience as a teacher. Passionate about bringing the community together, Olivia views guests at the Museum as essential collaborators in determining the success of our collections, exhibitions, programs, and events. As the first staff member with a primary focus on teachers and students, Olivia quickly built relationships with teachers and the Corning community to champion DEI within and outside the Museum. An active member of the Museum’s DEI Matrix Team since the day she started, Olivia now chairs the team and is a leading voice in multiple DEI subteams, including the team that created our land acknowledgment and the DEI Ambassadors. Olivia is also integral to the DEI Roadmap team, which is creating a multi-year strategic plan for DEI&A at the Museum.
Olivia’s DEI work extends beyond the Museum’s walls. She is part of Diverse FLX, a group of emerging leaders from the community who work together to build a diverse, equitable, and sustainable future for the region. She serves as a board member of the Elmira-Corning NAACP, a member of the ED&I Committee of the New York State Art Teachers Association, and volunteers for the African American Read-In of the Southern Tier.
Promoted to School and Education Partnerships and Programs Supervisor in 2021, Olivia’s role has grown in line with the respect she earns from her colleagues and peers. Everyone at The Corning Museum of Glass is thrilled that Olivia has been recognized for her exceptional leadership, far-reaching achievements, and honest commitment to the work she champions.
Please join us in celebrating Olivia Khristan and her continued success!
Karol Wight, President and Executive Director:
“The name of this award, ‘Rising Star’, so wonderfully applies to Olivia Khristan. As an educator, community member, and DEI&A leader in our organization and with others, Olivia is truly a rising star. We are fortunate to have her as a member of our museum community, and I have appreciated working alongside Olivia to further the Museum’s efforts toward greater diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. As an educator, Olivia embodies our mission—to inspire people to see glass in a new light. Through a new approach to informal learning in our galleries with our museum guides, to engaging with our community of educators throughout our school systems, Olivia has worked to use glass as a material to share history, artistry, creativity, and joy.”
Mieke Fay, Manager, Education and Interpretation:
“Olivia is incredibly deserving of this award. She brings her skills in building authentic relationships to her role working with schools and teachers and has extended those skills beyond the Museum’s walls to community leadership positions. Her advocacy for DEI&A continues to shape more inclusive and equitable hiring practices for our department and we are fortunate to work with her.”
Troy Smythe, Manager, Interpretation Strategy and Education Projects:
“Olivia’s work is one of the reasons I am hopeful for a future when museums meet their educational missions by becoming more deeply woven into the fabric of their communities. Her success as an educator is matched by her ability to create CMOG experiences in which people who never saw the museum as a place for them feel valued and welcomed for who they are. I try not to put Olivia in the position of teaching me how to do that. I believe it is important for people to educate themselves in this work, but she has become a role model I learn from daily simply by working with her.”
Kathryn Aguilar, Science Educator:
“Olivia is the type of person who inspires others to be their best, myself included. She is excellent at what she does and will go far in her career. I am honored to be her colleague.”
Evan Hill, School and Education Programs Specialist:
“I’m consistently impressed by Olivia’s efforts to advance CMoG’s commitment to DEI. She works within the Museum and field at large with ease and grace and always has a community-centered approach. I’m thankful to work and learn from her. I wish her sincere congratulations on her Rising Star award, a warranted designation for all the humanity she brings to her work.”
Amanda Crans, Social Media and Photography Specialist:
“I can’t think of a person more deserving of this recognition! Both at the Museum and within our local community, Olivia has been a tireless advocate for all and she is actively making the world a more welcoming place. She is a brilliant example of a 21st-century museum leader and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next; knowing Olivia, it will be marvelous.”
Rïse Peacock, Curatorial Assistant:
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Olivia. I am thrilled that the Museum Association of New York has recognized her excellence and dedication to creating equitable museums and arts-focused communities. We all win when the belonging initiatives that Olivia brings to the table are fostered and sustained. It is said that “joy is a radical act of resistance,” – I am filled with joy and am eager to celebrate Olivia’s win with our CMoG community.”
Scott Sayre, Chief Digital, Information and Education Officer:
“Olivia demonstrates a unique human-centered approach to engaging the entire staff from the frontline to the board in our individual roles in DEI&A work. She leads with confidence and compassion while managing expectations due to the challenging nature of this personal work and organizational transformation.”
The Museum Association of New York is the only statewide museum service organization with more than 730 member museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums. MANY helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.
Visit www.nysmuseums.org to learn more.