OAH appoints interim director to replace retiring Lee Formwalt

Historians in the News

This summer marks a transition in leadership of the OAH. Lee Formwalt, who has served as executive director for the last ten years, is leaving us. Under Lee’s guidance, the OAH has flourished. Lee expanded the membership in both numbers and diversity, and developed numerous new programs, including the highly successful community college initiative. He led us through some tough times, including two convention hotel crises that forced us to move the annual meetings at the last minute. He also carefully steered us through the recent economic downturn. We thank Lee for his outstanding service, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

We also welcome Katha Kissman, who joins us as interim executive director. Katha brings to the OAH a rich and varied background and a wide range of experiences. She is a professional interim leader and consultant for non-profit organizations with more than twenty-five years of experience in the field. Her particular expertise is to join an organization at a time of transition and to provide a bridge to new permanent leadership.

Katha’s experience extends far beyond organizational leadership and administration. She has had a professional career as a singer, has set up programs in academic institutions in the Middle East, has written books, is a trained holistic healer, life coach, and a certified hypnosis therapist.

The best way to introduce Katha to the members is an interview in this column about her vast experience and unique background.

Elaine Tyler May: Before I heard about you, I had no idea that there was actually a professional niche for nonprofit interim leadership. How did you end up in this particular field?

Katha Kissman: When I stepped down as president and CEO of Leadership America, I decided that I wanted to be a consultant. At that time, there weren’t many consultants who offered interim services, and I thought it would give me an edge over my competition. I have developed a knack for organizational development and have an ability to size up the strengths and weaknesses of an organization rather quickly and I’m a good problem solver. I have found that I enjoy helping organizations bridge the gap until they find a new leader. Being an interim leader has allowed me to learn about so many different organizations and meet some fascinating people.

ETM: For which other organizations have you served as interim executive director, and what interests you specifically about working for the OAH?

KK: My two most recent experiences have been as interim development director for the National Crime Prevention Council (McGruff the Crime Dog) and interim executive director of the Linguistic Society of America. LSA is very similar to OAH in that it is also a learned society, serving its professional and academic members, and it also publishes a quarterly journal. I also look forward to learning more about American history and the diversity of involvement by OAH members in the field. Because I live in Washington, D.C., one of the most historic cities in our country, and have benefited from the rich cultural offerings of our museums and parks, it will be especially meaningful to support the mission of OAH. I’m also looking forward to being in Bloomington and on the Indiana University campus. What a charming place! And I have enjoyed meeting the staff--it looks like a great team!...
Read entire article at Elaine Tyler May in the OAH Newsletter

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