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Illinois State Museum System Board of Directors

The Illinois State Museum Board of Directors is a group of eleven dedicated Illinois citizens appointed by the Governor who advise the Director of the Department of Natural Resources in all matters pertaining to maintenance, extension, and usefulness of the Illinois State Museum; make recommendations concerning the appointment of a new museum director whenever a vacancy occurs in that position; and review the budget of the Illinois State Museum and make recommendations with reference thereto to the Governor through the Director of the Department. The members are appointed for two-year terms based on their qualifications and interests related to the fields of museum activity.


(Vacant), Chair


(Vacant), Vice Chair


(Vacant), Secretary


Board Members

Leverne Backstrom

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.

John Barker

Biography and picture forthcoming.

Tamira Brennan

Dr. Tamira Brennan is Section Head of Curation at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been doing archaeology since 1999, primarily in research-based Cultural Resource Management settings ranging from fieldwork to administration. 

This work includes a seven-year-long stretch as a field supervisor, lead researcher, and ceramic analyst on the Illinois State Archaeological Survey’s investigations at East St. Louis, one of the largest late pre-Columbian sites in the Eastern Woodlands. She has also recently been active in excavations and research on early historic periods in Illinois and Missouri. Brennan earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and both her Master of Arts and Doctorate of Philosophy from Southern Illinois University. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.

Awaiting Appointment

Beth Shadur

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.

Chris Pappan

Chris Pappan is an artist of Kanza, Osage and Lakota descent. His cited influences are Heavy Metal and Juxtapoz magazines, and the Lowbrow art movement with its cultural roots in 1970s underground comics, punk, and hot rod cultures.  His art reflects the dominant culture’s distorted perceptions of Native peoples and is based on the Plains Native art tradition known as Ledger Art. Chris is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and a nationally recognized painter and ledger artist. His work is in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington D.C); The Field Museum of Natural History; The Newberry Library, The North American Native Museum (Geneva, Switzerland); Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, Montana); and The Spencer Museum of Art (Lawrence, Kansas), among others.  Chris recently exhibited his work at the Field Museum in Drawing on Tradition, a two-year exhibition and intervention into the decades old and problematic Native North American Hall, which has changed little since its establishment in the 1950s. The exhibition presented a contemporary view of Indigenous perspectives, acting as an agent of change within the institution. He was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2022.

Nikhil Trivedi

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.