Museums have a unique power to inspire curiosity and discovery, not just in children but in all of us. Keni spent most of her childhood years living in San Rafael, CA. It was a great place to grow up, with lots of parks and places to explore. At one park, Albert Park, there was a small nature center that focused on wild animal rehabilitation and nature education. From the time she was little, Keni loved visiting this place. She had her first encounter with any number of animals including bears, seals, raccoons, and birds. In addition to the animals, they had a small interpretive center filled with exhibits and activities. Keni visited many times, and vividly recalls one exhibit experience -a black box that you were supposed to stick your hand into to “guess what’s inside.” This box terrified her, but she was so curious to know what was inside, that one day she finally worked up the courage to reach in and explore. This was Keni’s first introduction to museums and the life changing role they play in igniting curiosity.
Keni followed her curiosity and passion for museums through her undergraduate degree in anthropology and history, and earning her graduate degree in cultural anthropology/museum anthropology from Arizona State University. Keni has held a number of positions – educator, curator, volunteer manager, director of education, VP of science and engagement, and executive director – at a variety of museums over the past 24 years. She has also taught museum studies courses, undergraduate and graduate, for the University of Oklahoma, Western Oregon University, Linfield College, and Brown University.
Throughout her career, Keni has been honored to have worked collaboratively with a number of Native American cultural offices and individual culturebearers in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, New England, and Arizona, as well as local Hispanic/Latino and small rural communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Keni’s work experiences, coupled with her family background, led her to her commitment to helping all museums in their efforts to become accessible places of inclusion and equity. Today, as ACM’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Keni oversees programs that work to help museum professionals in their equity, access, inclusion, and empathy practices, including Cambio.