The Illinois State Museum Board of Directors is a group of eleven dedicated Illinois citizens appointed by the Governor who volunteer to oversee museum policies, prescribe duties of the museum director, and advise the Department of Natural Resources with regard to Museum operations. The members are appointed for two-year terms based on their qualifications and interests related to the fields of museum activity.
Leverne Backstrom has served on the Board of Directors of the Katherine Dunham Center for Arts and Humanities since 2005 and is currently President Pro Tempore. Leverne is a retired 9th grade Language Arts teacher at East St. Louis Senior High School and a former organizer for the Illinois Federation of Teachers. She is member of the Olivette Park Neighborhood Association, East St. Louis Planning Commission and Trinity United Methodist Church. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Kansas Wesleyan University. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Andrea Carlson is an artist who has worked with a variety of museums, galleries and educational institutions on the topic of Native American art. Her work has been acquired by the British Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the National Gallery of Canada. She has served on several Native American advisory boards for museums and lectures on museum studies. Carlson is a member of the Ojibwe and speaks Anishinaabemowin, the original Indigenous language of the area that is now Illinois. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Dr. Sarah Doherty is an Associate Professor of U.S. and Public History at North Park University Chicago where she teaches courses in urban and suburban America, American pluralism, and public history. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Oak Park River Forest Museum since 2016 and co-curated the award-winning exhibit “Open House: The Legacy of Fair Housing.” Doherty received a B.A. in International Affairs with a Third World concentration from Xavier University, a M.A. in Public History and Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a doctoral degree in U.S. and Public History from Loyola University Chicago. She holds memberships in the National Council on Public History, American Historical Association, and Urban History Association. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Dr. Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the National Public Housing Museum. She has served as the Director of the UIC School of Art & Art History where she is an Associate Professor of Art History and Gender and Women’s Studies. As the previous Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, she oversaw a renovation of the house, installed a new permanent exhibition, and reinvigorated public programming at one of our nation’s most important historic sites. She is also the co-founder of The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for dialogue and dissent and for reinvigorating civil society. She serves on the boards of the American Alliance of Museums, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, 3Arts, and the Rebuild Foundation. Lee received her Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Bryn Mawr College and Doctorate in German Studies from Duke University. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Dr. Graham Peck is the Wepner Distinguished Professor of Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He authored the book “Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas and the Battle Over Freedom” which received the 2018 Book of the Year Award from the Illinois State Historical Society. He also wrote, directed and produced a feature-length documentary on Stephan A. Douglas which is on permanent exhibit at the Douglas Tomb State Historic Site. Peck received his Master’s and Doctorate in American History from Northwestern University and, before joining the UIS faculty in 2019, taught for 17 years at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. He was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Donna Sack has nearly 30 years of historic site and museum association experience. She currently serves as Vice President of Community Engagement and Audience at Naper Settlement. She previously worked as Executive Director of the Association of Midwest Museums, serving museums in an eight-state region. Sack was also Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Museums where she oversaw the transition from being a state-operated entity into a self-supporting nonprofit. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, she attended the renowned Seminar for Historical Administration, an intensive program for history professionals. She was first appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2016.
Beth Shadur is an artist who has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions including at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Drawing Center in New York City and the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. She has created over 150 large, public murals as public, private, and community art projects in both the United States and Great Britain. She is an Artist-in-Education for the Illinois Arts Council and has served as a visiting artist at many colleges and universities. Ms. Shadur has lectured widely on community arts and has curated numerous national exhibitions. Shadur is a Thomas Watson Fellow from Brown University and has been awarded numerous national and international residencies. Shadur has served as the Gallery Director at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Illinois for nearly six years. She was first appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2016.
Roger Taylor attended Northwestern University Law School and practiced law with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He retired as a partner in 1999 and remains of counsel. In 2001 he became President of Knox College and served in that role until retiring in 2011. He continues a pro bono law practice and teaches trial advocacy. He has received honorary degrees from Carl Sandburg College and Knox College. He was first appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2016.
Rachel Baum Torbert currently serves as the deputy director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As deputy director, Torbert leads internal and external communications and social media strategy for the department. She also serves as spokesperson for the agency and prepares staff and senior leaders for media interviews. Prior to her work at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Torbert served as the digital news manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau, where she sourced, wrote and edited content for Illinois Farm Bureau’s digital news platforms, including FarmWeekNow.com and ilfb.org. Torbert grew up on Baum’s Hilltop Farm, home of several circuit champion and year-end high point-winning paint horses located in Clinton, Ill. Torbert graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Agriculture Communications. She serves as the Illinois Department of Resources board designee.
Nikhil Trivedi works as the Director of Engineering at the Art Institute of Chicago overseeing the development of interactive applications for web, mobile and in-gallery experiences. He is a regular contributor at The Incluseum blog. His writing has been featured in Model View Culture, Fwd: Museums, and the Journal of Museum Education. Trivedi is also a co-creator of the Visitors of Color blog, where they document the experiences of people from marginalized communities who visit—and don't visit—museums. He earned his Bachelor of Science from DePaul University in Human Computer Interaction. He was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020..