Conner Prairie Hires New Vice President, Chief Programs Officer

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FISHERS, IN (Feb. 12, 2024) – Conner Prairie proudly announces the appointment of Ryan Spencer as the new Vice President, Chief Programs Officer. With an extensive background in cultural programming and a passion for advancing Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) initiatives, Spencer brings a wealth of experience to the Museum. 

In this key leadership role, Spencer will be responsible for shaping and overseeing the museum’s programs, exhibitions, and educational initiatives. His appointment comes at a crucial time as Conner Prairie prepares to unveil two groundbreaking experiences that underscore its commitment to promoting diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion within the community. 

The upcoming exhibitions, Promised Land as Proving Ground and the Trails at Conner Prairie, are set to captivate audiences with immersive and thought-provoking displays that highlight the rich tapestry of cultures and voices that shape our world and the land we live on. These experiences represent Conner Prairie’s dedication to inspiring curiosity and fostering learning by providing engaging and individualized experiences for everyone.  

“We are thrilled to welcome Ryan Spencer to our team. With his visionary leadership and commitment to DEAI initiatives, we are confident in their ability to elevate Conner Prairie’s programs to new heights,” Conner Prairie President and CEO Norman Burns said. “These two upcoming experiences underscore our commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse space where everyone can connect, learn, and find inspiration.” 

Spencer is a graduate of the History Leadership Institute, The University of St. Andrews (Scotland), and Hillsdale College. He has 17 years of experience working in public history and cultural organizations including the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Smithfield-Preston Foundation, and The Henry Ford.  

“An early mentor of mine believed two things. Firstly, museums, at their best, should build and strengthen the communities they serve by fostering empathy: when the heart sees, the mind understands. Secondly, museums ought to be safe places for unsafe ideas,” Spencer said. “These principles have become driving forces in my career as a museum practitioner, especially as I worked to create programming and educational experiences that engage diverse audiences.” 

For more information about Conner Prairie and its upcoming exhibitions, please visit


About Conner Prairie 
Spanning more than 1,000 wooded acres in Central Indiana, Conner Prairie welcomes more than 400,000 visitors of all ages annually. As Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate, Conner Prairie offers various outdoor, historically themed encounters and indoor experiential learning spaces that combine history and art with science, technology, engineering and math to offer an authentic look into history that shapes society today. Conner Prairie is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization – accredited by the American Alliance of Museums – that relies on grants and philanthropic donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations for sustainability and growth. For more information visit 

Holly Pasquinelli 
Senior Manager of PR and Communications  
317.776.6000 EXT. 267