2017 Slate of Candidates
Lael J. Ensor, candidate for position of Vice President for Conference Arrangements
About the Candidate
Lael J. Ensor has been the Assistant Curator of the Visual Resources Collection at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland since late 2013. From 2010 to 2013 she was an Access Services Library Specialist at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library at Johns Hopkins University. She has also held positions at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and at the Center for Historic Architecture & Design at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. Lael received her MA from the University of Delaware in Art History with a concentration in Early Medieval and Islamic art in 2009 and her BA from Johns Hopkins University in the History of Art in 2006.
Lael is active in the VRA and is currently serving as co-chair of the Intellectual Property Rights Committee and Secretary/Treasurer of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter. She is also a member of the Travel Awards Committee and was a member of the Task Force for Cataloging Cultural Objects which concluded their work in mid-2016. She has presented papers and posters at the last three VRA conferences on the topics of intellectual property rights, training student employees, and visual literacy. She published an article in the VRA Bulletin last fall entitled “Growing the Art Image and Visual Literacy Garden: The Journey to Create a Practical Guide for Student Employees.”
I love the VRA. It has nurtured me, grown my confidence, and afforded me cutting-edge knowledge about the field of visual resources. I cannot express how important the support of the VRA has been to me. The VRA has encouraged me to conduct my own research and share it with other members, helped me advocate for myself professionally, kindly invited me to join committees and their significant conversations, and imparted thoughtful feedback on conference presentations. In short, the VRA has become a defining aspect of my professional career.
These strong feelings led to my desire to engage in the discussions about the future of the association this past spring and to my desire to run for a position on the Executive Board. I feel that we, as an association and as a field, are experiencing a pivotal moment. As we valiantly strive to adapt to the challenges and realities of our times, we will need to rely on successful and inclusive dialogue among our membership and demonstrate a willingness to change our traditional operations and move forward down a sometimes brambly path. As Vice President for Conference Arrangements I would be both honored and humbled to assist with the development of new conference models and with the direction our association will take in coming years. The annual conference, as well as other VRA events I have attended, have been instrumental in my professional development and in giving me professional support, and I would like nothing more than to facilitate similar future experiences for other VR professionals in a way that is both rewarding to our membership and financially sound for our association. While my current position is in a traditional visual resources collection, my experiences in other types of institutions and my service on the Sheridan Libraries and Museums’ Diversity Committee and the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Council for Inclusive Excellence have equipped me for this position with experience in event planning, knowledge of the inner workings of complex organizations, and an understanding of the unique needs of different types of institutions. If I were elected to this position, I would do my best to continue the meaningful conference experiences we all cherish, as well as to steer us towards a sustainable future for VRA conferences.
Jennifer Kniesch, candidate for Vice President for Conference Arrangements
About the Candidate
Jen Kniesch is the Visual Resources Librarian at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Art History at Purchase College (SUNY) in 2001, received an MA in Art History at Purchase College (SUNY) in 2007 and an MLIS from the University of British Columbia in 2009. Her MLIS practicums were located at the Purchase College (SUNY) Library and University of British Columbia’s Rare Books and Special Collections.
Jen has been active in the VRA since 2009, serving on EdComm since 2011 and was the VRA’s Website Technology Coordinator Appointee, part of the VRA’s Web Migration Task Force from 2012-2015. She has participated in multiple VRA National Conferences, including moderating and speaking in sessions and workshops. Ms. Kniesch received the Davis Art Images Award in 2011, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Scholarship for the Summer Educational Institute in 2011, and VRA’s Luraine Tansey/VRA Travel Award in 2015. She is currently the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Chair.
The Visual Resources Association is my home Association. As the Association is in financial flux, my vision and mission for the Association has been to support the VRA in any way possible. With this nomination, it would be a privilege to serve all VRA members, the VR Profession and the ever-changing landscape. It is from the ongoing support from VRA members that I must provide back and contribute to the Association and its many benefits that I have received. I am happy to assist, explore and be challenged by the tasks that lie ahead for our Association in order for us to become a stronger community of Visual Resources Professionals.
As someone that is a solo librarian, I don’t believe that great outcomes can be achieved alone—they come from dialogue and communities. By listening and being objective to others needs I hope that we can create a conference arrangement vision, mission and strategic plan that fosters VRA members desires and will provide VRA a financial cushion to sustain our longevity. Because we are in a competing market, I realize this will be a challenge, but ready to take it on because of the Association’s ongoing support from membership and their can-do spirit. In my last review, it was stated that I do thoughtful work because I try and think about everyone. If elected, rest assured that I will use that same ethos as VPCA for the Association that gives me so much.
Andreas Knab, Candidate for Treasurer
About the Candidate
Andreas Knab is a software developer and entrepreneur working out of Wiesbaden, Germany. At James Madison University (JMU), Andreas received his MS in Computer Science in 1999 and completed the first year of the Innovation MBA program in 2012. Through his work at JMU from 1998 to 2012, Andreas lead the development of the Madison Digital Image Database (MDID) almost since the first version in 1997; starting as graduate assistant, later as Computer Systems Engineer and, since 2008, as Lead Software Developer, all in the Center for Instructional Technology. The project received the 2011 Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s Innovation in Higher Education award. After moving to Germany, Andreas founded vrcHost LLC in March 2013 to continue development and support of MDID by offering commercial support and hosting services.
Since 2003 Andreas presented on MDID at most annual VRA and other conferences such as NMC (2005 and 2006), EDUCAUSE (2007) and SEI (2008). The MDID special user groups have been a part of VRA conferences since 2005. Andreas also co-authored two articles published in the VRA Bulletin. (“Making Connections: Digital Image Systems Working Together to Enhance Learning.” VRA Bulletin Summer 2008, Volume 35, Number 2; “Madison Digital Image Database 3.” VRA Bulletin Summer 2012, Volume 37, Number 2.)
Andreas served as committee chair on the board of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Resource Center from 2004 to 2008. He has been secretary and treasurer of the VRA International Chapter since its founding in 2014 and currently serves as the interim chapter chair.
Presenting and participating at VRA conferences has been a big part of my professional development since the early 2000s; and I am honored by this opportunity to contribute further to the VRA organization.
For the past few years, VRA has experienced financial challenges. While the total equity of the organization has remained fairly stable over the past decade, the high variability in important income and expense positions makes financial planning difficult. The most variable positions in the profit and loss statements are directly related to the annual conference.
One of my goals as treasurer is to work with the executive board to stabilize the organization’s finances from year to year. The recent discussions among the board and membership regarding potential conference models have brought forward many suggestions that need to be explored and implemented.
Second, having sponsored several VRA and SEI conferences myself, I see significant room to expand the sponsorship program and reinvigorate conference events involving commercial vendors and sponsors. There are many existing relationships between institutions represented in VRA and content and service providers, but the representation of those providers, along with their financial support for VRA, seems to have dwindled over the past years.
Third, there is further room to reduce expenses required for running VRA, without having to sacrifice the level or quality of services offered to the membership. For example, prices for IT related services keep falling, and while it takes effort to switch plans or providers, savings are significant over time.
Having spoken to several people, including former treasurers and other board members, I am confident I am able to commit the time and effort required to serve as treasurer for VRA for the upcoming term.
Amy McKenna, Candidate for Public Relations and Communications Officer
About the Candidate
Amy McKenna was recently appointed to the position of Visual Resources Curator in the Art Department at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she served for 11 years as Assistant Visual Resources Curator and Image Cataloguer/Specialist. She designs and implements digital teaching projects in collaboration with art faculty and curates digital and analog collections of art and visual culture images. Prior to arriving at Williams, Amy was the Visual Resources Manager at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Washington, D.C., where she was responsible for the digitization, classification, preservation, and licensing of images of objects in the Museum’s collection of Russian and French decorative arts. Amy received her Master’s degree in Art History from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she studied eighteenth-century French painting and American modernism, and worked as a graduate assistant at the Lady Tennyson d’Eyncourt Slide Library. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Art History with a minor in Fine Arts from the University of Dayton in Ohio.
As an active member of the VRA for over 15 years, Amy has most recently served on the Professional Status Task Force in 2014-2016, collaborating to design and analyze a survey of the visual resources profession. In 2012, she was a member of the VRA Constitution and Bylaws Review Task Force and in 2006-2008, she was a member of the ARLIS/NA-VRA Joint Task Force on Collaboration. Amy served as the VRA Web Site Editor from 2005-2010. She attended the inaugural session of the Summer Educational Institute for Visual Resources and Image Management at Duke University in 2004 and received a Luraine Tansey Travel Award in 2003. She is presently a member of the New England and Upstate New York VRA Regional Chapters and a former member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter.
This is such an exciting time of transition in the history of the VRA and I would be honored to serve on the Executive Board. Armed with an ample dose of Association memory and optimism for the future, I believe that I could bring a thoughtful and well-balanced perspective to the table. Watching my friends and peers assume leadership roles over the past few years, I have felt a mostly gentle nudge that it is now my turn to serve! My nearly five years as VRA Web Site Editor and my skills in writing, design, and emerging technologies make the Public Relations & Communications Officer position an excellent match. I would greatly value the opportunity to give back to the Association that has had such a positive impact on my career.