Dr. Gabrielle Lyon, PhD, Executive Director of the Illinois Humanities will give opening comments at the ribbon cutting and opening of Spark! Places of Innovation, Smithsonian Museum on Main Street, at 11:00 am Saturday, January 13th at the Havana City Center, 326 W Market, Havana, IL. The Illinois Humanities is the organization responsible for connecting and facilitating rural communities to the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program. The event will include additional remarks by Havana Mayor Brenda Stadsholt and Havana Area Chamber of Commerce President April Burgett and will include refreshments for guests and visitors.
Gabrielle Lyon is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader, educator, and public speaker with experience in launching and leading social impact organizations and initiatives. Prior to joining Illinois Humanities in June 2019, she served as Vice President of Education and Experience at the Chicago Architecture Center and as a senior researcher at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the founding executive director of Project Exploration, a nonprofit dedicated to changing the face of science for youth and girls of color. Her honors include being named a Notable Leader in DEI by Crain's Chicago Business, a National After School Champion by the After School Alliance, Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine, and a Leadership Fellow with the Chicago Community Trust. Lyon’s current research and writing focuses on the ways in which community-driven design and participatory humanities experiences bridge civic identities and catalyze social change. https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellehlyon/
Spark! Places of Innovation highlights innovation in rural America from the perspectives of people who have lived it. Their words, images, and experiences, gathered through an ambitious crowdsourcing initiative, are the heartbeat of the exhibition. The communities featured in Spark! – including seven small towns in Illinois – have enhanced their vitality through innovations in fields such as technology, agriculture, economic development, education, and the arts.
As a companion to the Spark! exhibition, Havana will present a locally-produced exhibit detailing the diverse resources and innovative research being conducted within the Illinois River Valley and specifically Havana, highlighting the two University of Illinois Biological Research Facilities, the Forbes Biological Station and Illinois River Biological Station. The exhibit will also showcase the innovative ways Havana has reinvented itself and restored its historic Downtown to transform its business community and grow its tourism industry.
The Havana Area Chamber of Commerce will offer a full accompaniment of events on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the duration of the tour stop. These events will include presentations, lectures, performances, and historic architectural walking tours that provide a glimpse into the region’s rich natural resources, scientific research, ecology, arts and culture, history, and relationship to Native American communities. A full schedule of programs can be found at www.historichavanaillinois.com