About the Vermont Humanities Council

Because Ideas Matter

Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup Appointed as Executive Director for the Vermont Humanities Council

Montpelier ~ The Vermont Humanities Council (VHC) announced today that Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup has been hired as the organization’s next Executive Director. Kaufman Ilstrup worked most recently as the Chief Operating Officer at VTDigger.org, and was a Senior Philanthropic Advisor for Program and Grants at the Vermont Community Foundation for ten years. He has also held leadership roles at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and Rural Vermont, and was the first executive director of the RU12? Community Center (now the Pride Center of Vermont).

“Christopher comes to the Council with a deep knowledge of and love for Vermont,” said VHC board chair Rolf Diamant. “He recognizes that every Vermonter is a lifelong learner who can use the humanities to live meaningful lives in healthy, just, and resourceful communities.”

Based in Montpelier, VHC is a private nonprofit that works to bring the power and the pleasure of the humanities to Vermonters of all backgrounds. It is well known for First Wednesdays, a series of monthly lectures at nine hub communities around the state; and Vermont Reads, a statewide community reading program where adults and students read the same book and take part in a wide range of related activities.

“One of the things that has really impressed me about the Humanities Council is the way that it truly believes in and supports humanities work in the smallest of the small towns,” said Kaufman Ilstrup. “I’d like us to bring the humanities to even more communities, whether they’re the Old North End of Burlington, or Island Pond in the Northeast Kingdom.”

Kaufman Ilstrup grew up in Vergennes and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Drama from Kenyon College. He later received a Master of Science in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He fills the role formerly held by Peter A. Gilbert, who retired in early August after a tenure of nearly 16 years.

In addition to First Wednesdays and Vermont Reads, VHC programs include an annual Fall Conference held at the University of Vermont, book discussions for health care providers and military veterans, community participatory readings of Frederick Douglass’s Fourth of July speech, and Humanities Camps that engage at-risk middle school students with reading and the humanities.

In 2017, the Council awarded $40,000 in grants to 20 Vermont nonprofits. These grants supported projects as diverse as a series of lectures about African-American literature at the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte, the Burlington Book Festival, the month-long Poem City celebration in Montpelier, and discussions related to the “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage” traveling exhibition of Abenaki garments and accessories.

“VHC has funded a lot of great grassroots projects around the state,” said Kaufman Ilstrup. “I would love to build our capacity to support even more projects in a stronger and more sustainable way with our grants.”

About the Vermont Humanities Council

The Vermont Humanities Council seeks to engage all Vermonters in the world of ideas, foster a culture of thoughtfulness, and inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning. Because Ideas Matter.