Resolved: To help historians expand the reach of their work.

I love the start of a new year. Each December I determine what I want to accomplish in the coming year and on January 1st, armed with an action plan, I hit the ground running. This year is particularly exciting because I’m launching Michelle Ronholm Communications.

Ending the Sabbatical

I spent more than 15 years in communications, largely focused on education and health care. I worked for big agencies and small nonprofits and I had amazing experiences. But I also had a young son and decided I should take a break from the fast-paced, sometimes high-stakes profession I had chosen. I took a parenting sabbatical. I chaperoned field trips to Mount Vernon and various Smithsonians. I volunteered in the classroom. I shuttled my son to hockey rinks and baseball fields. To stay busy during the hours he was in school, I earned a personal training certification and worked part time as a trainer in a local gym. It was a beautiful life for five years.

But eventually I felt the pull of of my communications past. I wanted to do good work with good people, and I wanted to do it with historians.

The Historian

Despite having degrees in history and political science, I never really worked as either a historian or a political scientist. Yet historians were all around me. I was reading their books, watching their presentations, listening to their podcasts, and following them on Twitter. I was impressed by how they were using social media to expand the reach of their work, generating meaningful platforms for people to be able to engage deeply with history. They were applying historical context to contemporary problems. And it was beautiful. This is where I could help.

Michelle Ronholm Communications

Historians are being quoted in the local newspaper, testifying at the town council meeting, running for political office, getting ‘verified.’ They’re everywhere! And there’s room for more. Much, much more.

At the SHEAR Annual Meeting in 2017, I attended a session about civic engagement. Intellectuals in an Anti-Intellectual Age: A Roundtable on History and Historians in the Contemporary Civic Sphere showcased ways in which historians can, and need to be, engaged in their communities. It’s happening, and for every historian who already is out there making it happen, there are countless others who can, and should, be doing the same.

I aim to help historians expand the reach of their work. To help them identify and pursue opportunities that have a meaningful impact. There is so much good work to be done and so many great scholars to do it. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.