September 30, 2020 | By Ginger Ann Contreras | Back to blog

Hello October! How did September go so fast? The start of the 2020 Fall semester has been a whirlwind of new learning, connections and exciting happenings both in my master’s program and position at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID). In reflecting on my own experiences in the midst of the pandemic and national racial reckoning – I am reminded of how much we can do together as a community, and how we can creatively find, and support, positive change and empowerment while social distancing and living/working/learning remotely and digitally. My name is Ginger Ann, Executive Director of the Illuminating Discovery Hub at WID, and member of the Bolz Center’s inaugural cohort of the Master in Business: Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership.

As a colleague of Sherry Wagner-Henry, it was Sherry who introduced me to the new master’s program, piquing my interest to join the first cohort as I sought to advance in my own education. What makes this program so unique is the diversity of my colleagues – we all range in experiences, backgrounds and professions. Several of us also hold permanent jobs while we are pursuing our degree, and many of us have ties to community work within the Madison area.

Professionally, as the Executive Director of the Illuminating Discovery Hub, I oversee several initiatives that focus ‘beyond the lab’ – bringing science to people, and people to science. A few programs I lead:

  • Science to Street Art: an initiative that pairs scientists with street artists to co-create science public art in underserved communities, and communities that lack public art investment.
  • Science to Script: an initiative that pairs scientists with writers to support diversity of science characters and weave accurate science within story for the screen, stage, page and more.

Additionally, I serve on several boards, commissions and councils within the arts. My focus is on how to best serve the arts, and artists through a lens of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Arts are vital for our public health, they can inspire and change us. They can even shape how we see ourselves, our future professions, and identity within community.

People ask me: “you have so much experience, why pursue a masters?” It’s simple – we should always invest in our education. We do better when we continue to learn and add new skill sets to our work, and expand our strengths. And, frankly, as a women of color – degrees are often needed to leverage our careers; it becomes a tool to help fight against the systemic racism we face. When we get comfortable with the status quo, we stop growing and our contributions to community can become stagnant.

So, I wrap up September and begin October excited to continue the work, and look forward to discovering, sharing, and connecting with my cohort. The Bolz Center supports the working professional, builds community and creates opportunities to apply our learning into our fields and expertise in real time. It is an exciting time to be a Bolzie!