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Member Spotlight: Kristina Wilkes

 | Published on 9/5/2019

Name: Kristina Wilkes

Position: Manager of Volunteer Projects

Organization: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago IL

MAVA Member Since: 2017


Please describe your volunteer program:  MSI is comprised of Guest Facing volunteers who work the front lines with, student groups and teachers and Project Volunteers who work behind the scenes on exhibit maintenance and development, in the gardens, on special event prep and anywhere else help is needed.

What is your role?
  My role includes the management of Museum project volunteers as well as management and coordination of the team of community volunteers who set up and support our Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light Exhibit every year. This is a huge undertaking utilizing volunteer support, internal partners and external partners that help to bring cultures from all over Chicago into one Holiday experience. The holidays start for me every year in April… I also am the project manager for the volunteer office major recognition events.

How did you get involved in Volunteer Management?
  I started in teaching and began to realize that informal education was where I really found inspiration. As I progressed in my career I made my way into the Chicago Cultural Institutions, starting as a front line floor staff and working my way up. Informal education is a huge part of working in a cultural institution and volunteers help to bring that education to the millions of people that visit Chicago every year. I gravitated towards volunteer management as it’s filled with dedicated people who support places like MSI with their time and talents because they believe in the mission. I feel like I’m truly helping contribute to education and special experiences because I am getting the best people into the right places.

What does it mean to you to be a MAVA member?
  I’ve been a MAVA member for three years now, but have been in volunteer management in some capacity over the last decade. It wasn’t until I attended the National Summit that I realized how much of my job was me guessing best practices. Suddenly, there were colleagues with the same issues and workshops by experts and friends all over the country with similar interests. MAVA to me is a connection to people who want to do good by helping others do good. It’s been empowering and reenergizing.

Can you recall a time when being a MAVA member directly impacted your work in your organization?  What were the outcomes of MAVA’s impact?
  Everything I do within the Museum is now impacted by my MAVA involvement. I am able to call on best practices, keep myself up to date on the changing volunteer landscape and reach out to others with the day to day thoughts and ideas. I work monthly with the conference planning committee to make sure that others outside of Minnesota can experience what MAVA is doing and get the same sense of support and career acknowledgment that I have received since joining. My career has a direction and it’s because of MAVA.