Connecticut Humanities (CTH) today announced several transitions within its Board of Directors, including five additions and one departure from the group.
“We are delighted to have Ramin, Sandy, Helen, Jonathan, and Valeriano join the Board of Directors and we look forward to drawing on their knowledge,” said CTH’s Board Chairman Lew Wallace. “Their diverse backgrounds will be a tremendous advantage to the CTH as we move forward. We also want to say thank you to Jean Reynolds for her service as she leaves the Board. We continue to build on the strength of all previous Board members in advocating for and supporting humanities content and organizations across the Nutmeg state.”
Joining the board of directors in 2021 are Ramin Ganeshram (Westport), Valeriano Ramos Jr. (Hamden), Helen Higgins (Guilford), Sandy Grande (Wethersfield), and Jonathan Weiner (West Hartford). They will serve alongside Chairman Wallace, Vice-Chair Elaine McDonald, and the rest of the CTH board members.
“Connecticut Humanities draws on leaders from across our state,” said Jason Mancini, CTH Executive Director. “Their expertise and experience are critical in helping CTH ensure that all the stories of Connecticut are told, and I am delighted to be working with them on our strategic initiatives.”
Incoming Board Member Bios:
Ramin Ganeshram, a veteran journalist, currently serves as the Executive Director of the Westport Museum for History & Culture. Born in New York City to a Trinidadian father and an Iranian mother, Ganeshram is an executive-level cultural strategist for a market research firm as well as an executive-level editor in publishing companies. She spent eight years as a feature writer for the New York Times and another eight years as a feature writer and food columnist for New York Newsday. She has been awarded seven Society of Professional Journalist awards for her work. A professionally trained chef, Ganeshram has specialized in writing about multicultural communities as a news reporter and food from the perspective of history and culture. As a writer, Ramin has written seven books as either principal or co-writer and has contributed articles on historical America, immigrant foodways, and colonial New York cuisine and commerce to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, Savoring Gotham, and the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. Ganeshram has also been a peer reviewer for the Journal of Food, Culture, & Society. She has been a speaker at the City University of New York, The New York Folklore Society, the American Library Association, and others.
Sandy Grande is a Professor of Political Science and Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Connecticut with affiliations in American Studies, Philosophy, and the Race, Ethnicity and Politics program. Her research and teaching interfaces Native American and Indigenous Studies with critical theory toward the development of more nuanced analyses of the colonial present. She was recently awarded the Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship (2019-2020) for a project on Indigenous Elders and aging. Her book, Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought was published in a 10th-anniversary edition and a Portuguese translation is anticipated to be published in Brazil in 2021. She is also a founding member of New York Stands for Standing Rock, a group of scholars and activists that forwards the aims of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence. As one of their projects, they published the Standing Rock Syllabus.
Helen Higgins previously served as CTH’s Interim Director and board member. Higgins was Executive Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation (PreservationCT) for 18 years, and before that, President of the Connecticut League of History Organizations. For 10 years, she served as a commissioner and member of the Advisory Committee of the Commission on Culture and Tourism and recently was a member of the Speaker of the House’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Tourism. She has over 40 years of direct involvement with heritage/preservation organizations around the state.
Valeriano Ramos Jr. has served as the Director of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships and as the Equity Officer at Everyday Democracy since 2010. As Everyday Democracy’s Equity Officer, Ramos contributes to the organization’s ongoing learning and practice towards addressing institutional and systemic racism and infusing racial equity practices within the organization and in the work with partners and communities. Ramos has served as Director of Constituent Affairs for Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, where he handled constituent outreach and services, public policy research and legislative affairs, minority business development projects, and Latino voter engagement efforts. He has worked as the State Coordinator of the TU VOTO SI CUENTA Latino voter education and registration drive, roles in public and higher education having served as Director of the LULAC Educational Service Center in New Haven, as an Assistant Dean and Puerto Rican Cultural Center Director at Yale College and as Director of Community Service and Civic Engagement at Trinity College in Hartford. He also coordinates the Connecticut Civic Health Project working with a strong Advisory Group. Ramos is an internationally renowned professional Flamenco guitarist. He holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Economics from Yale College and received his master’s degree in Politics from New York University.
Jonathan Weiner is an attorney who currently serves as Permanent Law Clerk to Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson, providing counsel in the decision of civil and criminal appeals. He is a 1999 graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a 2002 graduate of the Hofstra University School of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Hofstra Law Review. Weiner chairs the board of Civics First, which is a nonprofit organization that works with the Connecticut bar and bench to provide civics education opportunities in Connecticut’s schools. He is an active member of the Connecticut Bar Association, where he chairs the Civics Education Committee and is a member of the Board of Governors, the House of Delegates, and the Appellate Advocacy Section. He is also a member of the boards of Community Partners in Action and the Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society.
CTH is grateful for the service of Jean Reynolds who will be departing the CTH Board:
Jean Reynolds (gubernatorial appointee) has a long career in children’s book publishing with such distinguished houses as Prentice-Hall, McCall, Grolier, Lerner Publishing Group, and Millbrook Press, which she co-founded. Her professional activities include board membership with The Book Industry Study Group in which she chaired the Juvenile Interest Group, The Center for the Book in the State of Connecticut.
Connecticut Humanities’ Board of Directors meets quarterly and is responsible for reviewing grant applications, setting policies, reviewing budgets, assisting in the fundraising process, participating in committee work, and serving as an important link between Connecticut Humanities and the public.
CTH is Connecticut’s only statewide non-profit organization focused broadly on supporting access to and providing funding for public humanities through grant funding and capacity building. CTH grants have supported a variety of projects and organizations for more than four decades.