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Meet Our Newest Board Members

We recently asked three of our newest board members to tell us a little bit about themselves. Here is what they had to say: 

JUDY DRESCHER
Joined the HT board in January of 2014

Where do you live? I’ve lived in Memphis Tennessee since 1985. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, and have lived in Ohio, Illinois and Tennessee. 
 
What do you do professionally? I received my Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 and for over 40 years, I’ve been a professional librarian, entirely in public libraries in Cincinnati, OH, as director of three successive public libraries in  Rolling Meadows, IL (a Chicago suburb), Champaign, IL, and Memphis, TN, the latter for 23 years, and where I retired in 2007. For the next 5 years, I was a consultant for the Public Library Association ( a division of the American Library Association), on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, entitled “Turning the Page,” a nationwide advocacy training program for staff and board members of public libraries in small and medium sized public libraries. As of 2013, I describe myself as “successfully retired.”
 
Do you serve on other nonprofit boards? My current interests revolve around early childhood literacy and learning, food justice and access issues, pro bono access for legal help to all Tennesseans. I am a member of the Shelby County Books from Birth Board, (organizational assessment and outreach committees), the Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Commission-Pro Bono committee, and actively volunteer and advocate at First Congregational Church for food justice and access. Over my years in Memphis, I have participated in or served with numerous leadership, partnership, and community organizations.
 
What inspires you? The opportunity to use the skills and experience that have been granted to me to help people pursue their own dreams. One of the Humanities Tennessee programs which intrigues me is the Young Writer’s Program, because I know that being the only person in your school or town who is a writer or wants to write is lonely. Recently, I’ve been recommending Barbara Kingsolver’s newest book, “Flight Behavior” to lots of people who need to recognize the magic that can happen when just one person helps someone else find a new path to education, recognition, or self worth. Dellarobia Benbow, the main character in that book, is the best example I can give them.
 
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I grew up in a very small town, a reader without a library.  I read everything someone would donate, give or loan to a small room in a church basement. I wanted to see the world. To that end, my husband and I have been made extensive trips to China, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, England, Wales, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, and Central America. Also included in our travels, are too many trips to mention to the Caribbean for scuba diving (he’s the diver, I’m the person in the hammock reading a book!). We still have quite a few places to add to our list.  
 
 

SHAWN PITTS
Joined the HT board in August of 2013

Where do you live? Selmer, TN (McNairy County)
 
What do you do professionally? I am a Doctor of Chiropractic in private practice (23 years).
 
What do you do for fun? I play music with friends or for my own enjoyment, dabble in various hot glass techniques, read, and write.
 
How/why did you first get involved with Humanities Tennessee? The Community History program was my first direct involvement with HT. I urged our local historical society museum to plug into that program when I first learned about it and was peripherally involved in the assessment effort. Through my work in several other projects I was well aware of other HT programs, so it seemed a natural fit when [HT board vice-chair] Donald Fann first urged me to get involved. My respect and admiration for Donald coupled with HT's outstanding track record made it an easy decison.
 
Do you serve on other nonprofit boards? I am a founding director and ex officio member of the Arts in McNairy Board, as well as the current President of Tennessee Folklore Society. I've recently become involved with the West Tennesse Blues Society. I'm currently on a Rural Arts Project Support panel for the Tennessee Arts Commission and mentor other arts leaders through their peer advisor program. Other nonprofits boards I have served in the last twenty years? It is a ponderous list, not to mention tedious. I'll send a resume if you want, but I wouldn't advise it.
 
Why/in what ways are the humanities important to you in your life? I've been involved for several years in cultural assessment and planning efforts. There are two equally important elements in that kind of work. The first one is thoughtful interaction with the people who are invested in the local culture you are supposedly assessing. A lot of trust is involved if you want to arrive at any kind of meaningful conclusions. The second element is distilling and interpreting the information to tell stories in ways that are faithful, authentic, and respectful of those people and places. That is pure humanities, and it's been humbling and transformative for me to engage people at that level. My wife Joanna and I have also raised our family on books, museums, and arts/humanities events. I'm proud to say we've infected the next generation.
 
What is your favorite Humanities Tennessee program? The Community History program is a favorite from a rural develoment standpoint but Southern Fest, Chapter16, and the Young Writers Workshops are also splendid literary programs. How can you ask us to pick? It's like asking someone, "what's your favorite song?" I never trust anyone who can give an answer; there are just too many good songs. Ditto for HT programs.
 
What would you say to someone who is think ing of donating to or volunteering for Humanities Tennessee? Do it. Now. It's too important not to support.
 
What inspires you? Informed, involved, energetic young people and Wendell Berry. Passion is infectious.
 
 
 
KAREN LEWIS
Joined the HT board in January of 2014
 
Where do you live? Manchester, TN
 
What do you do professionally? I am a middle school speech and theatre teacher.
 
What do you do for fun? Garden and community theatre
 
How/why did you first get involved with Humanities Tennessee? Through talking with board member Donald Fann with whom I've worked in community theatre.
 
What is your favorite Humanities Tennessee program? I'm excited about Letters about Literature. I taught 7th grade language arts for years and see this as a great vehicle for encouraging writing and reading.
 
What inspires you? Passionate people inspire me. It matters not what they're passionate about; their excitement and drive to pursue their interests is contagious. The people I've been able to meet thus far at Humanities Tennessee have that passion. Their drive to educate people and promote the
humanities in Tennessee is invigorating. I am eager to do what I can to help.
 
Welcome to all of our new board members! Thank you for serving and for supporting Humanities Tennessee's mission.