Illinois State Museum System Board of Directors
The Illinois State Museum Board of Directors is a group of eleven dedicated Illinois citizens appointed by the Governor who volunteer to oversee museum policies, prescribe duties of the museum director, and advise the Department of Natural Resources with regard to Museum operations. The members are appointed for two-year terms based on their qualifications and interests related to the fields of museum activity.
Leverne Backstrom has served on the Board of Directors of the Katherine Dunham Center for Arts and Humanities since 2005 and is currently President Pro Tempore. Leverne is a retired 9th grade Language Arts teacher at East St. Louis Senior High School and a former organizer for the Illinois Federation of Teachers. She is member of the Olivette Park Neighborhood Association, East St. Louis Planning Commission and Trinity United Methodist Church. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Kansas Wesleyan University. She was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.
Kristin DiCenso was born and raised in the Capital City but spent 8 years in Southern California and Chicago before returning to Springfield in 2000 to open a small business. Ms. DiCenso has worked her way up in state government, spending ten years at the Department of Natural Resources and three years at the Illinois Department of Transportation. At both agencies, Kristin supervised statewide staffs, multi-million-dollar budgets and was responsible for crafting and implementing agency policy. Kristin returned to IDNR in 2019 and currently serves as the Chief of Staff to 1,200 employees. Ms. DiCenso earned a Secretary's Pin for her work on the 2012 NATO summit and was named a "Future Conservation Leader of Tomorrow" by the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. In 2016, Ms. DiCenso co-founded “Women Rising”, an organization to help recruit, support, and elect progressive women. Kristin was appointed to the Bi-Centennial Commission by Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza in 2018. Also, in 2018, Ms. DiCenso received the Action Illinois One Year Anniversary award for public service. In 2020, Kristin received the “OUTstanding Person” award from The Phoenix Center of Springfield, the “Good Neighbor Award” from ICON (Inner Cities Older Neighborhood Coalition) and was voted “Up and Coming Leader” in the Illinois Times. Kristin is the proud mother of 13-year-old Stan, and 5-year old Golden Retriever, Lovey. She loves cooking (and eating), karaoke, traveling and spending time with her family and friends. She joined the board in 2021 on behalf of DNR.
Roger Taylor attended Northwestern University Law School and practiced law with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He retired as a partner in 1999 and remains of counsel. In 2001 he became President of Knox College and served in that role until retiring in 2011. He continues a pro bono law practice and teaches trial advocacy. He has received honorary degrees from Carl Sandburg College and Knox College. He was first appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2016.
Chris Pappan is an artist of Kanza, Osage and Lakota descent. His cited influences are Heavy Metal and Juxtapoz magazines, and the Lowbrow art movement with its cultural roots in 1970s underground comics, punk, and hot rod cultures. His art reflects the dominant culture’s distorted perceptions of Native peoples and is based on the Plains Native art tradition known as Ledger Art. Chris is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and a nationally recognized painter and ledger artist. His work is in the collections of the National Museum of the American Indian (Washington D.C); The Field Museum of Natural History; The Newberry Library, The North American Native Museum (Geneva, Switzerland); Missoula Art Museum (Missoula, Montana); and The Spencer Museum of Art (Lawrence, Kansas), among others. Chris recently exhibited his work at the Field Museum in Drawing on Tradition, a two-year exhibition and intervention into the decades old and problematic Native North American Hall, which has changed little since its establishment in the 1950s. The exhibition presented a contemporary view of Indigenous perspectives, acting as an agent of change within the institution.
nikhil trivedi works as the Director of Engineering at the Art Institute of Chicago overseeing the development of interactive applications for web, mobile and in-gallery experiences. He is a regular contributor at The Incluseum blog. His writing has been featured in Model View Culture, Fwd: Museums, and the Journal of Museum Education. Trivedi is also a co-creator of the Visitors of Color blog, where they document the experiences of people from marginalized communities who visit—and don't visit—museums. He earned his Bachelor of Science from DePaul University in Human Computer Interaction. He was appointed to serve on the Illinois State Museum Board in 2020.