Museum Job Spotlight: Jennifer Ortiz
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My name is… Jennifer Ortiz
The name of my museum is… Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts/Museum Support Agency
My job title is… Museum Services Manager
Give us a quick overview of your department/museum.
I work for the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, a state agency that supports museums and arts organizations throughout Utah. I work with our state’s over 250 museums to help them professionalize their practices, provide field services through workshops and professional development opportunities, and connecting museums through our grant program.
What is your biggest accomplishment in your job?
Reviving museum services at the state-wide level; on average, my office provides 20 workshops a year, dozens of on-site museum visits, and funding aimed at assisting museums with projects ranging from collections care to museum governance.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I have the wonderful opportunity to travel all across Utah conducting trainings and facilitating on-site visits. Whether it’s small, volunteer-run museums or large, AAM accredited institutions, I get to meet the most passionate and dedicated people working in our state’s museums. Seeing people committed to the work that they do in our museums–researching family histories for exhibition, setting up for the next museum program, or conducting docent lead tours–it’s awesome. I get to see people’s personal connections to their local museums on a daily basis, hear their projects for the coming year, and assist them whenever possible.
Best advice you ever received from a museum professional:
Be open to opportunities that come your way. It’s cheesy, but makes a difference if you embrace it.
What is one thing on your resume that makes you unique?
I’m a Change Leader! It’s this fantastic leadership program that was started in Utah and has since spread to Colorado and Idaho–Change Leaders are coached on how to foster institutional change through dialogue, communication, and better understanding your work environment–skills we could all learn how to be better at.
Advice to the aspiring museum professional.
Network like hell. It’s scary (sometimes) but always worth it–get yourself to conferences–state, regional, and national ones–this is the best thing you could do for you and your career. Get involved with local and regional museum groups: serve on a programming committee, volunteer to organize a meet-up. And never be afraid to reach out to people in the field for advice–find a mentor, formally or informally but find someone to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice from, or simply talk to. Be active!
What specific skills enable you to succeed in your job?
Listening is key to my job. I have to hear people out, help facilitate conversations among individual museums and their staff/volunteers, and help them with their projects. While I do quite a bit of teaching, listening and hearing people out is critical to making sure I do my job well.