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VEX21 Keynote Speakers

Dr. David Pilgrim

Wednesday, October 13

2:00 PM EST


Dr. David Pilgrim, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris State University, is one of this country's leading experts on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations. He has been interviewed by National Public Radio, Time magazine, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and dozens of newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. Dr. Pilgrim is best known as the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum -- a 11,000 piece collection of racist artifacts located at Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan.

The museum uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. Dr. Pilgrim's writings, many found at, are used by scholars, students, and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary expressions of racism. The website has been linked to hundreds of sites and has resulted in Dr. Pilgrim being invited to deliver public lectures at dozens of institutions, including Middlebury College, Stanford University, Spring Arbor College, Colby College, the University of Michigan, Smith College, Washington University, the University of Texas El Paso, the University of North Carolina and Concordia University (Montreal).

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko

Thursday, October 14

1:00 PM EST


A museum director since 2001, Cinnamon is a frequent presenter at national museum meetings and is often asked to comment on national museum issues. As the president/CEO of the Abbe Museum (Bar Harbor) from 2009 to 2019, she was the motivational leader behind the museum's decolonization initiative, working with the Native communities in Maine to develop policies and protocols to ensure collaboration and cooperation with Wabanaki people. Prior to joining the Abbe in 2009, Cinnamon was the director of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum in Crawfordsville, Indiana where she led the organization to the National Medal for Museum Service in 2008.

In 2019, Cinnamon became the director of the Illinois State Museum. Cinnamon holds a BA in anthropology and art history from Purdue University, and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) MA program in anthropology with a specialization in museum studies.

In 2016 Cinnamon gave her first TEDx talk, We Must Decolonize Our Museums ( and she's been featured on the Museopunks podcast series. She's the author of Museum Administration 2.0 (2016) published by Rowman & Littlefield, The Art of Healing: The Wishard Art Collection (2004) published by the Indiana Historical Society, and co-editor of the Small Museum Toolkit (2012) published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Chris Taylor

Thursday, October 14

1:00 PM EST

chris taylor.jpeg

Chris Taylor spent 15 years working in museums, primarily at the Minnesota Historical Society. He began his career as an educator, but quickly saw the power that history can have on an individual’s identity. Through the stories they elevate (or suppress), museums have the power to either fortify or disrupt the status quo, but Chris came to understand that this must be an intentional choice. He began teaching undergraduate courses at the University of Minnesota on “Diversity in the Museum Field” as part of a museum fellowship program designed to increase the diversity of museum professionals. At the Minnesota Historical Society, he successfully created the department of inclusion and community engagement to steward the museums systemic efforts for inclusion and equity.

He also became the first chief inclusion officer in the museum field, a role he occupied for 4 years. Museums around the country sought out Chris as a consultant for their inclusion and equity efforts. In 2019, Chris Taylor was recruited to become the chief inclusion officer for the state of Minnesota, one of only two states to have such a position. There he leads the development and implementation of a statewide strategy for inclusion and equity across over 20 state agencies. His publications include "Getting Our House in Order: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion" published in The American Archivist.

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