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The Scoop

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African/African American museum has new leader

Statement as issued Monday:

Dr. John Aden, Historical Scholar, Paul Harding High School graduate, and Fort Wayne Native, to lead Fort Wayne’s African/African American Historical Society Museum into 21st Century.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Dr. John Aden, a professional historian, assumed his Executive Director’s duties on January 28, 2013. He shared his vision for the Museum with the Board of Directors which is to integrate technologies into the programs and services and engage the technology savvy youth and community. Dr. Aden says, “Programs that engage students and learners of all ages both in-house (in person visits to the museum) and on the Internet through our website and other social media platforms have a powerful impact in preserving community history.”

Over the next several months Dr. Aden, with the assistance of staff and the Board of Directors, will assess the technology needs of the Museum and create a plan to update the existing technology infrastructure. As the Museum integrates this new platform into its new delivery services, Dr. Aden believes that moving the museum in this direction will facilitate comprehensive and sustained community engagement.

The Board of Directors is excited about the hiring of Dr. Aden. He has local Southeast Fort Wayne roots and is fully aware of community issues and concerns. His educational background, knowledge of Museum Studies, and scholarly interests in African and Chinese Histories uniquely positions him to elevate the Museum’s program operations into the 21st Century.

Dr. Aden graduated from Wabash College with honors, earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University and is a former Committee On Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Fellow, an Eli Lilly Teaching Fellow, a former J. William Fulbright Fellow, and has received numerous other awards. He is also the former Managing Editor of the peer-reviewed scholarly quarterly journal “Africa Today”, published by the prestigious Indiana University African Studies Program, in conjunction with Indiana University Press.

Dr. Aden has worked in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago – a world renowned center for the study of Egyptology – as a Summer Research Opportunity Program Fellow, as well as at the National Museum of Mali, West Africa during his Fulbright field research. He has extensive knowledge of and contacts in the field of museum studies, particularly as it pertains to African art, history, colonialism, and culture. These contacts, coupled with local partners, create opportunities for the Museum to expand its programs and cultural offerings.

According to Pompia Durril, president of the Board of Directors, “We are committed to the museum serving as a community resource and research institution that has long term growth and stability. We believe that Dr. Aden will build upon the legacy of the Museum’s seven founders and the work of recently retired Director/Curator, Hana Stith.” Mr. Durril noted, “we are very appreciative for Mrs. Stith’s hard work over the past 10 years preserving and sharing the history of African American people in Northeast Indiana.” We are looking forward to a continued relationship with Mrs. Stith as she serves in the honorary role of Curator Emeritus.

The Board of Directors encourages you to stop by the Museum, 436 East Douglas Street, say hello to Dr. Aden and let him share his experience and research on the Mande iron workers of Mali, West Africa.

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