Publication Date

March 1, 1998

Gail Leftwich, a former president of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, has been appointed the new president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The federation serves 56 councils that are affiliates of the National Endowment for the Humanities and offer public humanities programs to people in the local communities throughout the country. The federation serves as the state councils' advocate with Congress, the NEH, the humanities community, and the general public. It provides direct services to the councils, as well as leadership in formulating policy, in developing collaborations, and in maintaining a network of support for their missions.

Leftwich succeeds Jamil Zainaldin, who served as president from 1986 to 1997 and is now president of the Georgia Humanities Council. Leftwich is currently director of the Cambridge Forum, which offers programs of inquiry and debate on topics of present concern for live audiences and radio listeners. A frequent radio and television commentator herself, Leftwich has been a leader of the "National Conversation on American Pluralism, Identity, and Law," sponsored by the American Bar Association and the NEH.

Leftwich, an alumna of Bryn Mawr College, holds a JD from the University of Chicago. She has held various positions at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She is a trustee of Bridgewater State College and of the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. She has recently been the chair of the advisory commission of the American Bar Association's standing committee on public education.

Marilyn Williamson, chair of the federation board, said, "We look forward to new leadership in William Ferris as chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, in Gail Leftwich as president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and to a new millennium in which the entire humanities community may prosper."

The appointment is being seen as particularly important in the context of a proposed shift in the focus of the NEH toward regional, rather than national emphases for its activities.

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