Minnesota Historical Society Names Kent Whitworth Director and Chief Executive Officer

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 27, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org 

Minnesota Historical Society Names Kent Whitworth Director and Chief Executive Officer

Current executive director of Kentucky Historical Society brings vast experience and a passion for inclusion, ensuring history’s relevance in today’s world 

The Minnesota Historical Society announced today that its governing board has appointed Kent Whitworth as director and chief executive officer, effective July 1, 2018. 

“Kent Whitworth brings a wealth of leadership experience to the Minnesota Historical Society, as well as a strong commitment to MNHS’s strategic direction and its emphasis on inclusion and civic engagement,” said Phyllis Goff, governing board president. “Highly respected as a leader with a national profile among public history professionals, he combines a dynamic passion for history with extensive public sector experience.”

Whitworth is currently executive director of the Kentucky Historical Society, based in Frankfort, Kentucky, a position he’s held since 2004, leading its mission to engage the public in history in order to confront the challenges of the future. He is a founder and leader of the national History Relevance campaign, which is helping to redefine history’s impact on America today. 

“Kent’s work on the groundbreaking History Relevance initiative is leading history organizations nationwide in nurturing a greater understanding of how history can help us all address contemporary issues and challenges,” said John R. Dichtl, president and CEO, American Association for State and Local History.
 
Whitworth follows D. Stephen Elliott, who became MNHS director and CEO in 2011, and will retire in June. The MNHS governing board will facilitate a smooth transition in leadership over the next several months. 

Whitworth’s career experience also includes executive director positions for the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Blount Mansion Association in Knoxville, and director of marketing and college relations at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. He has a master’s degree in history with an emphasis in historic preservation from Middle Tennessee State University, and has served as a leader on numerous museum, history, education and civic projects. 

“It is indeed an honor to be chosen to lead the Minnesota Historical Society, an organization admired nationwide by historians, educators, preservationists, genealogists and museum patrons for its mission, integrity and service,” said Whitworth. “I strongly support the commitment to inclusion, diversity and civic engagement at MNHS. From its leadership in National History Day and its grant program for local history organizations, to its bold public messaging and impressive network of 26 historic sites and museums, MNHS consistently sets the standard for the history field.  
 
“History helps people envision a better future,” he said. “Democracy thrives when individuals convene to express opinions, listen to others and take action. I look forward to working with the people from the great state of Minnesota who have proven time and time again that their history matters.”  
 
Whitworth, a lifelong Vikings and Twins fan with family connections to Minnesota, will relocate to the Twin Cities with his wife, Sarah, a youth outreach professional. “We are looking forward to becoming Minnesotans, immersing ourselves in the state’s history and benefiting from the vibrant arts and cultural atmosphere for which the state is renowned,” he said.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.        

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.