INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Historical Society has appointed Jody Blankenship as President and CEO. Blankenship, a long-time leader at some of the country’s most distinguished state historical societies, joins the Indiana Historical Society after serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Historical Society.
The Indiana Historical Society, one of the largest and most prominent historical societies in the country, is a private, nonprofit organization. It maintains the premier collection of materials on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and reaches more than one million people every year through programming, visitation, outreach and services.
“Hiring Jody as the Indiana Historical Society’s next president and CEO has been a source of excitement for us,” said David S. Evans, chair of the IHS Board of Trustees. “His energy, enthusiasm and instinct, along with his commitment to history and passion for excellence, will continue our work to take IHS to new heights. We are poised to connect even more people with Indiana’s past—something that will inform our present and shape our future.”
Under Blankenship’s leadership, the Connecticut Historical Society enhanced customer service, increased service hours, and improved and speeded up cataloging. During his tenure, the number of new, public exhibitions increased each year from three to nine, affinity groups for specific history specialties were created, and the availability of the collection of historical materials increased so that people in Connecticut have increased direct access to their history. Blankenship also led the successful adoption of the 25-year-old Connecticut Folklife Program, a partnership that represents the histories of all of Connecticut’s diverse population, and significantly increased the organization’s revenues, grew investments to $56 million, and substantially increased annual fundraising.
Previously, he was Education Director at the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) where under his leadership, KHS advanced its educational model and secured $1.2 million in grants to pilot model curricula, and revamp Kentucky’s cemetery preservation program. In addition, Blankenship launched “Explore Kentucky History,” the institution’s first mobile application which provides location and contextual data to the State’s historical marker program.
Prior to his appointment at KHS, Blankenship managed the Ohio Historical Society’s (now the Ohio History Connection) Outreach and Field Services Department. His outreach involvement included educational programs such as National History Day in Ohio, the Ohio Social Studies Resource Center, the Buckeye Council for History Education, the Ohio Historical Markers program and the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums.
“I’m honored and delighted to be chosen by the Board to be the Indiana Historical Society’s next President and CEO. The IHS is a nationally significant organization that has been a leader in providing access to and engagement with history. I look forward to working with the Board, staff and citizens of Indiana to further this cause and build on an incredible legacy.”
Blankenship received an M.A. from Cooperstown Graduate Program at the State University of New York and a B.A. from Ohio Northern University. He will assume his responsibilities as IHS President and CEO on Jan. 21, 2019.
Blankenship succeeds John A. Herbst, who has served IHS as president and CEO since 2006. Herbst will officially retire on Dec. 31, 2018.
About the Indiana Historical Society
Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor experiences called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups; publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; produces and hosts art exhibitions, museum theater and outside performance groups; and provides youth, adult and family programming. IHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
IHS is headquartered in the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center – home of the Indiana Experience—located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis along the historic Central Canal.