Gage Foundation director honored with Coffey Award

— Sally Roesch Wagner, executive director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, was awarded the 2012 Katherine Coffey Award by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums at the organization’s 66th annual meeting Oct. 9 in Tarrytown.

The Katherine Coffey Award was established in May 1972 by the Board of Governors of the Northeast Museums Conference (now MAAM). The committee agreed that professional museum staff members should be credited for outstanding service to museology and they should be nominated for this honor. The award took the name of the late Katherine Coffey (1900-1972), one of the outstanding museum leaders and administrators of the nation.

The Katherine Coffey Award is the highest honor for museum professionals in the region. Wagner was granted the award in recognition of her leadership of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, which operates the Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in the rehabilitated historic Gage home. Wagner founded the Gage Foundation in 2000 and has led the organization since that time.

A nationally recognized lecturer, author and performance interpreter of woman’s rights history, Wagner is one of the first women to receive a doctorate in the United States for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz), and a founder of one of the country’s first college women’s studies programs (CSU Sacramento). She has taught in women’s studies for forty-two years and currently serves as adjunct faculty in the Honors Program at Syracuse University

She is a founding board member of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites and sits on the advisory boards of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse, the George and Rebecca Barnes Foundation and the Syracuse Peace Council.

Her nomination letter states: “A scholar and teacher by training and instinct, [Wagner] skillfully uses the expertise of state and national museum resources to expand her knowledge of professionally accepted standards. For the historic house museum, she has clearly taken the standards of relevancy and engagement to new levels. “

This summer, the Gage Foundation was awarded a grant to participate in “Girl Ambassadors for Human Rights,” a one-year project that will bring together girls from the Villa Grimaldi museum in Chile, the Institute of Social Development in Sri Lanka and the Gage Foundation.

The Gage Center is also creating a national model for museum dialogue on the issue of reproductive choice through grants from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the Ludwick Family Foundation.

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