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Toledo Museum of Art welcomes Katie Shelley as first manager of access initiatives

manager of access initiatives
Katie Shelley

Katie Shelley has been named as the Toledo Museum of Art’s first manager of access initiatives, a role that reports to the Museum’s director of belonging and community engagement. Her appointment began on July 6.

“Seeking the expertise of The Ability Center as a guide, TMA is prioritizing its vision to become the model among art museums for its culture of belonging,” said Rhonda Sewell, the Museum’s director of belonging and community engagement. “Katie Shelley’s access knowledge in historical and architectural buildings, and her dedication and advocacy in the field of disability rights makes her an ideal selection for this novel role. Her expertise will help TMA to become a model museum for people with disabilities.”

The establishment of the new manager of access initiatives position, the first of its kind at a major art museum, is part of a strategic partnership between the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo (ACT). The collaboration supports ACT and TMA in their efforts to build a community and a museum that are the most disability-friendly in the country. Dedicated funding for the position and its recommendations is made possible through generous support from the Judith, Joseph and Susan Conda family.

“I am so excited to be taking on the newly-implemented role of manager of access initiatives at the Toledo Museum of Art,” Shelley stated. “As a former employee of the Museum, I am thrilled to come back and work to make a Toledo institution that is near and dear to my heart the most accessible and welcoming place it can be for everyone – visitors and staff alike.”

“After a nationwide search, The Ability Center is thrilled Katie Shelley has been named manager of access initiatives at TMA. She is an outstanding match for this position who brings technical experience and project management to the role,” noted Tim Harrington, executive director of ACT. “While at The Ability Center, she has become respected as a statewide leader

in the disability community. We applaud this prestigious institution for the creation of the position and focus to become the most disability-friendly museum in the country.”

Shelley most recently served as the disability rights advocate for public access and healthcare at ACT, where she provided consultations to local businesses on physical and programmatic accessibility. As a dedicated advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, Shelley has volunteered as a member, vice chair and current chair of the Ohio Olmstead Task Force. The task force, a statewide grassroots coalition of Ohioans of all ages with disabilities, advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to live, work and participate in their communities. Shelley served as the graduate assistant for the disability studies program at The University of Toledo and has worked as an associate and team leader in the membership and visitor services department of TMA. In her new role, Shelley will audit Museum policies, procedures and practices to recommend ways to incorporate inclusive design and enhance accessibility.

Shelley holds a Master of Liberal Studies with a concentration in disability studies from the University of Toledo; a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, Detroit; and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.