Breaking: Oregon Humanities Announces Its New Executive Director

The civic-minded statewide organization will bring on Adam Davis, the nationally respected head of the Center for Civic Reflection in Chicago.

By Aaron Scott April 22, 2013

Oregon Humanities just announced that it has named a new executive director: Adam Davis, who currently serves as the director of the Center for Civic Reflection in Chicago, a national organization focused on projects and goals very similar to Oregon Humanities’.

OH has been leaderless since the February departure of its previous director, Cara Ungar, who announced in January that she was stepping down to pursue other interests. Davis will assume the mantle on August 5, becoming the fifth director to helm the organization.

"Adam brings quiet strength, compelling leadership, and broad experience in the humanities to Oregon, and all of us are thrilled to have him join us,” says John Frohnmayer, Oregon Humanities' chair and former chair of National Endowment for the Arts. “He is a nationally recognized thought leader, adept at getting people of diverse viewpoints to actually hear one another when they talk, and that unique skill is essential to a functioning democracy."

In addition to leading the Center for Civic Reflection since 2003, Davis is the cofounder and former director of Camp of Dreams, a year-round nonprofit geared towards underserved youth; a philosophy instructor at the Odyssey Project, which is analogous to Oregon Humanities’ Humanity in Perspective college-level program for low-income adults; and the editor of Taking Action: A Reader (2011) (of which Dave Eggers wrote: "My god, this is an incredibly well-chosen collection"), Hearing the Call across Traditions (2009), and co-editor, with Elizabeth Lynn, of The Civically Engaged Reader (2006).

“I’m excited to join Oregon Humanities for a whole slew of reasons,” Davis says in the press release, “but mainly because the work of OH is engaged, intelligent, and alive, as are the people who work there. So I see a real opportunity to reach people across Oregon and to build a national case in vivid, compelling ways that talking thoughtfully together helps all of us, as individuals and in communities, come alive.”

Carole Shellhart, Oregon Humanities’ director of finance and operations, will serve as interim executive director until Davis begins.

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