Meet the Staff
Lisa Craig Brisson
Gentle Pressure, Relentlessly Applied
Every Saturday when I was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, my Dad would take my three siblings and I on an outing in the Twin Cities. More often than not, it was to a museum and I have many happy childhood and family memories of those visits. One year I was a volunteer at the Science Museum of Minnesota Holiday Toy Fair (or something like that). I count that as my first, though unpaid, museum job.
I was a social studies education major in college and took a US survey course from an instructor who served on the board of our local history museum. He recruited me for a course he was going to offer in Public History and I was hooked. That experience led me to an internship at the Ramsey County Historical Society, and then eventually to several seasonal jobs at historic sites with the Minnesota Historical Society.
I decided to pursue a career in historic sites/museums and attended the Cooperstown Graduation Program in History Museum Studies to get my master’s degree. My studies there focused on historic sites, visitor experiences, and accessibility. My internship was at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts and my thesis was on accessibility for visitors with disabilities at historic sites.
After graduating, I did some education and visitor research projects back with the Minnesota Historical Society until I came to Michigan to be the Educator for Mackinac State Historic Parks. I was hired for a grant-funded position that was only supposed to last a year and half so I didn’t expect to be in Michigan long, but here I still am!
I left Mackinac State Historic Parks when my daughter was born and worked “freelance” for about a decade. That brought me to many different types of experiences including teaching history and museum studies, working with the Visitor Studies Association and the Center for Informal Science Education, and doing projects with the Cheboygan Area Public Library, Mackinac State Historic Parks, Harbor Springs Historical Society, and other Northern Michigan history organizations.I was hired as Executive Director for MMA in July of 2012, which had always been my dream job. It did not disappoint.
How did you get involved with MMA?
I attended the 1994 conference on Mackinac Island during my first year with Mackinac State Historic Parks. I remember a strong sense of camaraderie and I was so happy to learn about the museums in the state. I attended several other conferences over the years after that and have attended every conference since 2007. I also served on the Visitor Experiences Academy/Workshop planning committee. I was invited to be part of the MMA Board of Directors in 2010. In that role, I served on and then led the programs committee and helped plan the Kalamazoo (2010) and Harbor Springs (2011) conferences. I left the board in 2011 and was hired as MMA Executive Director the next year.
What is your favorite thing about MMA?
It’s hard to choose one favorite thing, but I think I can narrow it down to two. The first is the museums. I love museums and Michigan has so many of them! It is just so wonderful to get to know them and visit them and hear about all of the different ways that museums are serving their communities.The second, and really the best, is the people. Museum people are so smart and creative and interesting. I love to meet them and get to know their work. Even better is when I get to know them beyond just their work. Museum people are the best people I know.