How we grow: Supporting young professionals
06 June 2019 – Priya Chhaya
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series that illustrates the role of the NCPH Endowment in supporting and growing the field. To find out more about how the NCPH Endowment Fund supports the work of public historians and to make your pledge to the 2020 Vision campaign, please visit: https://ncph.org/giving/endowment/.
In this post, one of the co-chairs of the Endowment Committee, Priya Chhaya, reflects on the role the Endowment played in her early career while also considering why NCPH matters now and for the future. For her, the strength of the Endowment Fund is in how it supports and cultivates young and emerging professionals.
Why are you a member of NCPH?
While there are many reasons I am a member of NCPH, it really comes down to community. NCPH provides me with the offline and digital space to engage, commiserate, strategize, and tackle the challenges of being a public historian. Having a variety of ways to learn and hear from others strengthens my own knowledge base to be not only a better historian, but also to clearly articulate the value and relevance of the work we do. A recent example is the 2019 Annual Meeting, which took place in Hartford, Connecticut. This meeting, with its focus on the repair work that historians do, provided not only my annual dose of inspiration, but also a serious consideration about why I am in this profession to begin with. How can we, as public historians, be stronger advocates and leaders?
How has the NCPH Endowment fund helped you in your work as a public historian?
While I didn’t know this at the time, the NCPH Endowment supported my career as a public historian by making registration and access to information affordable. As a recipient of the New Professional and Graduate Student Travel Award, I was able to present for the first time on a conference panel and expose myself to a range of activities that public historians do as part of their practice. This was invaluable experience as a young professional.
I am also constantly impressed by the work of the New Professionals and Graduate Student Committee. While it didn’t exist when I was younger, the Public History Navigator is an essential tool for those considering this profession. While the endowment does not directly support this work, it does help strengthen the main office of NCPH which in turn is able to further support and encourage committees to take on challenging projects such as this.
In what way would you like to see NCPH further support public historians?
I believe this organization has an opportunity to truly engage with the increasingly public role of history in modern discourse. By continuing to support new professionals and actively engaging with not only the inclusion of underrepresented histories but also with issues of social justice, truth and reconciliation, and general professional practice, NCPH can continue to position itself as a leader in the field.
~ Priya Chhaya is the associate director of publications and programs at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, You can learn more about her work at www.priyachhaya.com or follow her on Twitter/IG @priyastoric.