We humans have opposable thumbs and big brains. Thumbs and brains are what make us human, and the humanities are our mirror. Often we love what we see, often we don't, but we keep looking.

Sherman Alexie
Celebrated writer, comedian, and filmmaker
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Join the 2015-16 Speakers Bureau

Join the 2015-16 Speakers Bureau

Join the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau

Humanities Washington is seeking applications from qualified individuals interested in serving as presenters for its 2015-16 statewide Speakers Bureau program. The deadline for the application is April 25th 2014.

Please read the following page before you begin your application. When you are ready to apply, you can access our application portal at


What is Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau?

The Speakers Bureau is one of Humanities Washington’s oldest and most popular programs. A roster of cultural experts and scholars provide low-cost, high-quality public presentations across the state, encouraging audiences to think, learn and engage in conversation.

These diverse and engaging speakers cover a variety of topics, including popular culture, photography, architecture, literature, food, film and history. Speakers are carefully selected based on their subject-matter expertise and ability to offer fascinating content and insight on the topics presented.  Humanities Washington, in keeping with its mission to spark conversation and critical thinking using story as a catalyst, selects speakers who can engage communities in conversations that will deepen people’s understanding of the topics presented and broaden the audience’s perspectives.

Speakers Bureau presenters collectively deliver hundreds of talks in every corner of the state. To reach as many Washingtonians as possible, we partner with a wide range of organizations, including libraries, schools, museums and historical societies, retirement homes, community centers and civic organizations.


The Speakers Bureau program aims to create programming that:

  • Provides context and encourages critical thinking on contemporary and emerging issues of interest to the people of Washington state
  • Fosters individual awareness and connections with varied points of view
  • Encourages cross-cultural/cross-community discovery
  • Provides opportunities for scholars and cultural experts to connect with audiences outside of a formal classroom setting
  • Serves audiences from a range of income levels, geographies and cultural backgrounds
  • Provides creative, enjoyable and compelling community engagement by providing opportunities to actively listen, learn and respond to the topic at hand


How it Works

Every two years, Humanities Washington publishes a roster of speakers that are available for nonprofit organizations and community groups to book for presentations in their communities; these talks are free and open to the public. Host organizations apply to Humanities Washington through an online application form and, if approved, Humanities Washington works with the speaker and host organization to finalize logistics, such as time, place, and travel arrangements. Host organizations are responsible for publicizing the events, and are provided with a tool kit of press releases, letters and other materials to use to generate interest in the event.

Humanities Washington seeks speakers with the following qualifications:

  • Strong expertise in the subject matter on which they are presenting, substantiated by an advanced degree in the subject (M.A. or higher) or evidence of scholarship or knowledge gathered through other training.
  • Demonstrated success in working with public audiences
  • Ability to work well with culturally, economically and geographically diverse audiences
  • Interest in – and ability and willingness to – travel to communities across the state.


Speakers who are selected will be asked to:

  • Agree to make between five and ten presentations during each program year (at mutually agreed-upon times with host organizations)
  • Attend a one-day speaker orientation in August, 2014 (specific date T.B.D.)
  • Participate in three meetings/conference calls annually with the program manager and the other speakers
  • Provide their own mode of transportation (travel costs are reimbursed by the host organization)
  • Reach out to potential host organizations to generate interest in their presentation
  • Work collaboratively with Humanities Washington to generate interest in the Speakers Bureau
  • Encourage dialogue and conversation among program attendees. (Facilitation training will be included in the Speaker Orientation)
  • Limit their presentation to roughly 60 minutes in length (We expect the majority of the time to be dedicated to a thought-provoking conversation with the audience on the presentation’s topic)
  • Offer the approved presentation exclusively as part of the Speakers Bureau program for the duration of their contract with Humanities Washington



Selected speakers are engaged as contract employees of Humanities Washington and will receive an honorarium of $300 per presentation. Travel costs are the host organization’s responsibility, and negotiated in advance with the speakers.


Presentation Topics

Humanities Washington seeks speakers from a wide range of backgrounds covering a variety of humanities-based topics. Presentations must be relevant or of interest to the people of Washington state. While we welcome applications on all humanities topics, below are examples of presentation categories that have been well-received by local audiences and/or are sought by Humanities Washington:

  • State and national history
  • Racial and ethnic history and/or culture
  • Migration and immigration to/within Washington state
  • Native American history and culture
  • Civil and human rights
  • Exploration of the complexity and history of modern social issues
  • Politics and citizenship
  • Environment and presentations focusing on the importance of “place.”
  • Interfaith, inter-community and/or inter-generational dialogue
  • Topics illuminating the intersection between humanities and the sciences
  • Storytelling and musical presentations that assist in illuminating aforementioned topics



Examples of past presentation topics:

  • Slavery in the Northwest: The Charles Mitchell Story
  • Analog Days: How Technology Changed Our Culture
  • Mapping Latino Musical Migrations
  • Political Cartooning: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • American Indians in Cinema: Portrayals and Participation, Onscreen and Behind the Scene
  • Hinduism: A Way of Life in Washington
  • The World in Washington: An Exploration of Literature and Our Lives
  • Sequential Reaction: A History of the American Comic Book
  • The Gettysburg Gospel: Exploring Lincoln’s Famous Address
  • Washington History and Historical Fiction


Join Humanities Washington program staff for a conference call on developing a strong Speakers Bureau application on Wednesday, March 26th at 12 noon. To register for the conference call, or to get more information, please email Zaki Abdelhamid at


Application, Selection and Program Timeline

March 26th: Conference call on developing a strong application (see above for more information)

April 25th: Deadline to submit online applications

May 19th: Applicants notified if they have been selected for Auditions

June 19th, 20th: Eastern Washington Auditions (Moses Lake)

June 23rd-27th: Western Washington Auditions (Everett)

July, 3rd: Interviewees notified of final decisions

August: Speaker orientation in Seattle. Specific date T.B.D.

Contract term: January 1st, 2015 through December 31st, 2016


Access the Application

To access the application to join the 2015-16 Speakers Bureau, visit

For more information, contact Zaki Abdelhamid, program manager, at 206-682-1770 Ext. 102 or


Join the Selection Committee

Humanities Washington is also looking for scholars, cultural leaders and community members to join our selection committee for the 2015-16 Speakers Bureau roster. For more information, visit

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