Sunday, January 4, 2009

Generation O, 13ers, and the Convergence of Museum Talent

Who imagined when we launched the Convergence of Museum Talent in 2006 to illuminate the rising leadership transition that a 13er would become the president elect? Born in 1961, Mr. Obama is known to the demographers as a cusper: an individual who bridges generations. Not only has he shown us a new way to look at race in this county, he has brought us together into a new demographic: Generation O. As Heather Havrilesky said last month on Salon, A leader has emerged allowing Gen Xers to finally understand the Boomers’ earnest, self-important prattle

Mr. Obama’s election requires us to begin a search for another way of being. As his email to supporters said on the evening of his election victory …this all happened because of you…we made history…stand by… In the ensuing weeks we’ve seen that the Presidential Transition Team has rapidly positioned itself to engage many of us in the process, keeping expectations real. It’s not going to be easy but we will prevail is the message.

The 13ers/Gen Xers are taking over now, as they should. Specifically, in the museum world, the Emerging Museum Professionals group has been institutionalized at AAM, as we hoped

As for the “official” Convergence 13ers, Paul Orselli has become the program chair of MAAM’s Creating Exhibitions, Kim Fortney is now MAAM’s President, Amy Lewis Hofland produced Texas Collects Asia - a very big deal! Sean Ferns’ exhibitions on drug use in America traveled widely, while Wayne LeBar and his colleagues reopened the Liberty Science Center to international acclaim – these are just a few successes from the Convergence group.

We all need to again thank Dan McCollister and the good folks at the McCollisters Transportation Group. Their financial support allowed us to profile at the AAM meeting in 2006 and support Jessie Newburn to build our website and provide strategic thinking throughout the project. Greg Stevens provided public relations throughout and George Jacobs gave us space in Museum Design which was a great bonus, too. We had sessions at AAM, MAAM, and VAM, and a plenary at the Pennsylvania Federation so thanks to all those association leaders for seeing the value in the topic.

Just What is a 13er?

“13er” is the term coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, to describe the generation of Americans born between 1961 and 1981. This generation is the thirteenth generation since the founding of our country.


JessieX said...

Hi Mary, Great post. It makes me happy to see media and thought-leaders recognizing Pres. Elect Obama as a GenXer, even if just by a hair. It's a natural fit for the generation occupying (and rising into) mid-life to hold society's predominant leadership positions.

It'll be interesting to see how he and other GenXers bring their perspectives to the institutional challenges ahead. I, for one, am curious to watch institutions far and wide shift and change with GenX leadership and pressures to adapt to a swiftly changing economy.

ThisTime said...

Well-written piece. Relevantly, as many nationally influential voices have repeatedly noted, Obama is part of Generation Jones, born 1954-1965, between the Boomers and Generation X. Google Generation Jones, and you'll see it’s gotten a lot of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (New York Times, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) are specifically referring to Obama, born in 1961, as part of Generation Jones.

JessieX said...

Erg, "This Time," generations are typically 20-22 years in length. The media and guru propensity to give names to groups of demographics and call them generations is deeply misguided and, unfortunately, doesn't add much to the working knowledge and value from understanding generations.

Obama is a GenXer.

Read any work by Strauss and Howe about GenXers to understand how and why he is the kind of leader he is. And why he is the right leader for the times.