The Katherine Coffey Award

The Katherine Coffey Award is given each year by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums to an individual in the Mid-Atlantic region to recognize distinguished achievement in the museum field. The Coffey Award ceremony is held annually at the MAAM Annual Meeting and is one of the pinnacle events of the conference.

2022 Coffey Award Recipient: Phyllis Hecht

Phyllis Hecht

The Katherine Coffey Award is given each year by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums in recognition of distinguished achievement in the museum field. Awarded annually since 1972, the presentation of the Coffey award is one of the pinnacle events of the Annual Meeting. The 2022 recipient, Phyllis Hecht, is the founding program director of the Master of Arts Degree Program in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Her nominator, MAAM Board Member Sean Blinn, wrote that “Her influence in the field has been both broad and deep… She has always taken the time to get to know her students and fellow faculty members, providing advice, counseling, and mentorship, both during their time in the program and after they graduate.”

Read more about Phyllis Hecht:
Phyllis Hecht has been recognized as a leader in the museum field for her innovative work in education, design, strategic planning, and technology.

Her museum career began at the National Gallery of Art in the retail shops, followed by photographic services, and then the publishing office as an editor and award-winning graphic designer. She was the recipient of the American Alliance of Museums Design Award, the Federal Design Achievement Award, and the Association of American University Presses Design Award for multiple publications from 1986-1999.

In 1996, she was invited to be on the development team of the National Gallery’s original website ( and took on the role of website manager in 1997. Her leadership in web design and management, audience engagement, and content strategy had an impact on the museum’s significant recognition in the online space and became the foundation of her research that focuses on best practices and innovative use of technology in museum practice. In 2007, she co-edited The Digital Museum: A Think Guide, an anthology on museums and technology.

In 2008, recognizing the need for a Museum Studies program that focused on technology, she collaborated with colleagues to launch the Johns Hopkins University Master of Arts in Museum Studies online graduate program and became its founding director. In addition to incorporating a thread of technology through the content of the curriculum, she created activities for students to learn how to communicate and collaborate in an online environment. The curriculum was constructed to confront the challenges facing current and future museum professionals — from audience expectations to global perspectives, advocacy, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI), as well as best practices in media and technology, digital literacy skills, and museums as agents of social change. Under her leadership, a dynamic online community consisting of faculty, students, and alumni was created to network and examine museum practices.

During her tenure as Director, Ms. Hecht received grants from Johns Hopkins University for DEAI initiatives; travel to China to collaborate and exchange ideas with museum colleagues and academics; facilitation of summits on topics of digital curation and STEM; as well as initiatives related to current issues of museums and the environment.

Ms. Hecht has published papers and participated in international panels on topics of museums and technology, building online community, current practices in digital curation, and fundamentals of grant writing.  She has served on the boards of the American Alliance of Museum’s Professional Networks, as Chair of the Committee on Museum Professional Training (now Museum Studies Network) and as the Muse Awards Chair of the Media and Technology Committee. She also served on the International Advisory Board for the “One-by-One” grant project, led by the University of Leicester, to address digital literacy skills within the museum workforce.

Ms. Hecht received a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Maryland, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education from George Washington University.

The Making an Impact Award

This award honors museums and institutions as a whole for developing either a program, exhibition, or special project that displays responsiveness and resourcefulness and have resulted in creative change for their organizations and a positive impact on their communities.

2022 Making an Impact Award Recipient: Fairmount Water Works for

“POOL: A Social History of Segregation”

The Ceremony included the inaugural presentation of the Making an Impact Award, recognizing museums and other institutions for developing either a program, exhibition, or special project that displays responsiveness and resourcefulness and which has resulted in a positive impact on their communities. The recipient of this award is the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center of Philadelphia, in partnership with project creator Habithèque Inc. and Diversity in Aquatics, for their exhibition “Pool: A Social History of Segregation.” The multi-media exhibition investigates the role of public pools in our communities with the goal of deepening understanding of the connection between water, social justice, and public health. The award will be presented to Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq, Director of Research and Education, Diversity in Aquatics, Dr. Miriam Lynch, Executive Director, Diversity in Aquatics, Karen Young, Executive Director, Fairmount Water Works, and Victoria Prizzia, Founder+Principal, Habithèque.

The Emerging Museum Professional Award

An award celebrating outstanding emerging professionals who have worked or volunteered in the museum industry for fewer than 7 years.

2022 Emerging Museum Professional Award: Tiffany Miller

Tiffany Miller

The 2022 Awards Ceremony also featured the inaugural presentation of the Emerging Professional Award, issued in recognition of an early-career museum professional making significant contributions to the field. This year’s recipient is Tiffany Miller, who received dual Master’s degrees in Museum Studies and Art History from Syracuse University in May of 2022. Her previous research on 14th-century illuminated manuscripts contributed to an ongoing database of manuscripts held by American universities, greatly increasing the accessibility of these valuable resources.

About the Coffey Award

Reprinted from the Museologist, No.125

Awards for outstanding service are too seldom given by organizations of the museum profession. It is true that occasionally persons in the field receive certificates of merit, plaques and sometimes, although very rarely, honorary degrees. As a rule, such awards when given are presented by chambers of commerce, service clubs, and once in a while, by colleagues and universities.

Unfortunately, however, our own profession has rarely regarded the contribution of its own notables.

Therefore, it was somewhat unusual that the Board of Governors of the Northeast Museums Conference (now MAAM) in May, 1972 agreed that nominations from a broad area be solicited for recognition of distinctive and worthy projects within the museums field. It was also decided that occasionally, when opportunity offered, a professional museum staff member should be cited for outstanding service to museology. The award, set up by the Conference, took the name of the late Katherine Coffey (1900-1972). She was one of the outstanding museum leaders and administrators of the nation.

A graduate of Barnard College in the class of 1922, she first joined the Newark Museum staff in 1923, left and returned in 1925 to remain on permanent basis until her retirement in 1968. She was in charge of all exhibitions and educational programs and directed an apprentice-training program from 1929 to 1942. During that period the course graduated 110 young people who later became associated with the staffs of museums all over the country. Many became prominent in their profession. In 1949, Miss Coffey became the Newark Museums fourth director, serving in that post 19 years. She had devoted 43 years of service to the museum when she retired in 1968. On her retirement the Newark Museum established the $100,000 Katherine Coffey Endowment Fund in her honor.

With this background of the honor as a basis it is more clearly evident why the action of the Conference was most appropriate when it conferred the first Katherine Coffey Award upon Hanna Toby Rose in 1972, who had just retired from the Brooklyn Museum.

Eligibility and Qualifications for 2022 Coffey Award

  • Nominees should have worked as a paid museum professional for at least 10 years in a principal position.
  • Nominees should have been (or be currently) employed in the Mid-Atlantic region during the period of principal contribution for which the award is being given.
  • Nominees should demonstrate accomplishment in their role and a record of service to the profession on state, regional, national, and/or international levels.
  • Nominees should also have a proven record of service to the community in which the museum is located.

Required Materials for Nomination

  • Nominator’s contact information
  • A cover letter explaining why you believe this individual should receive the Katherine Coffey Award (in PDF form, please)
  • 2 letters of support attesting to the nominee’s contributions to the museum field and to their community (in PDF form, please)

Please send any questions to info@midatlanticmuseums.orgThe deadline for nominations is August 1, 2022.

The individual that submitted the nomination will be notified if their nominee has been selected in early fall of 2022. Further details will follow. The nominator is expected to assist in editing and reviewing a press release for the eventual award winner.

Coffey Award Reception, 2018 MAAM Annual Meeting in Baltimore

Past Award Winners

The Katherine Coffey Award is MAAM’s highest honor. The following individuals have been recognized for distinguished achievement in the museum field.

2019 Recipient-Kinshasha Holman Conwill



  • 2021 Carol B. Stapp
  • 2020 Not awarded due to pandemic year
  • 2019 Kinshasha Holman Conwill
  • 2018 Sonnet Takahisa
  • 2017 Richard Piacentini
  • 2016 Pamela Green
  • 2013 Courtney Wilson
  • 2012 Sally Roesch Wagner
  • 2011 Rebecca Alban Hoffberger
  • 2010 Mary Sue Sweeney Price
  • 2009 Gretchen Sorin
  • 2008 Martha Morris
  • 2007 Richard Burkert
  • 2006 Nicholas Westbrook
  • 2005 Mary Case
  • 2004 Pauline Eversmann
  • 2003 Jim Gold
  • 1998 Marie C. Malaro
  • 1997 50th Anniversary of MAAM + Celebration of all award winners to date
  • 1996 Lynne Poirer-Wilson
  • 1995 Michael J. Ripton
  • 1994 Joel N. Bloom
  • 1993 Mary Alexander
  • 1992 James H. Duff
  • 1991 Samuel C. Miller
  • 1990 Stephen E. Weil
  • 1989 Charles F. Hummel
  • 1988 William T. Alderson
  • 1987 Susan Stitt
  • 1986 Paul N. Perrot
  • 1985 Joseph Veach Noble
  • 1984 Caroline & Sheldon Keck
  • 1983 William C. Steere
  • 1982 Holman J. Swinney
  • 1981 Frank A. Taylor
  • 1980 Louis Clark Jones
  • 1979 Eva Ingersoll Gatling
  • 1978 Dorothy Dudley
  • 1977 Edward P. Alexander
  • 1976 Adelyn Dohme Breeskin
  • 1975 W. Stephen Thomas
  • 1974 Gordon M. Smith
  • 1973 Ralph Lewis
  • 1972 Hanna Toby Rose
PO Box 4 Cooperstown, NY 13326


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