Vice President for Education and Engagement
Education: MA, Museum Exhibition Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2020. BA, Secondary History Education, DePaul University, 2020. MEd, Instructional Leadership in Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2010.
Experience: Chicago History Museum Vice President for Education and Engagement, 2020–present; Elizabeth F. Cheney Director of Education, 2016–20. Inter-University Program for Latino Research Director of the Chicago office, 2015–16. Whittier Elementary (CPS) and Academy for Global Citizenship Humanities Teacher, 2013–15. National Museum of Mexican Art Director of Education, 2004–2013; Coordinator for Teacher and School Programs, 2001–2004.
As Vice President for Education and Engagement, Villafranca-Guzmán supervises the Departments of Education and Visitor Services and ensures an equitable welcome for all Museum visitors. She also oversees the engagement of diverse audiences through programs and experiences that encourage historical thinking and greater understanding of Chicago and urban history and supports reaching new audiences based on data collection and responding to audience needs. Villafranca-Guzmán is responsible for establishing the vision and engagement strategy in both departments, coaching and developing staff, and guiding her teams in planning, administration, and accountability within and across the various teams that collaborate with Education and Visitor Services staff.
Upon her arrival in 2016, Villafranca-Guzmán focused education programs under a mission and vision aligned approach that is inclusive and community-centric. She collaborated with her staff to focus program outcomes and planning under a DEI and civic umbrella and has been successful in bringing in and sustaining new education and program-specific grants to the Museum. Thanks to a capital campaign gift, the Education department launched the Chicago Learning Collaborative, a free, culturally responsive K–12 school partnership with dozens of Chicago Public Schools. She was key in redesigning the orientation experience for the 60,000+ students who visit annually and in updating the popular, hands-on activity carts to align to current best practice in social studies and civics learning. Villafranca-Guzmán also integrated the Chicago Metro History Fair, serving up to 100 middle and high schools annually, and is working to reenvision its civic and equitable potential.
On the public engagement front, Villafranca-Guzmán has built on the interpretive engagement in our exhibitions. In addition to overseeing a robust intern and volunteer program, she experimented with different types of engagement in Race: Are We So Different? in 2017, such as drop-in workshops and mini tours. Villafranca-Guzmán also guided the launch of a topic-based Civic Conversation series for temporary exhibitions and cross-collaborative concerts throughout the city, featuring blues and Mexican folk music. She has expanded the diverse offerings in the popular City Tours program and refocused teen engagement to be more sensitive to equity and diversity.
Villafranca-Guzmán is also the first Chair of CHM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, formed in 2020, and a former member of CHM’s Anti-Racism Task Force (2017–20) and is responsible for collaborating with the team to bring to fruition the first DEI strategic plan for CHM.