Top of page

An Interview with Kelly McKenna, Program Specialist for the Office of External Relations

Share this post:

Kelly McKenna standing with a bookshelf in the background.
Kelly McKenna is a Program Specialist with the Law Library’s Office of External Relations. [Photo by Geraldine Dávila González]
Describe your background.

I grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and lived in Ithaca, New York, while attending college. In 2011, I spent six months in Amsterdam, where I studied Dutch culture and took classes at the University of Amsterdam and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. In 2012, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I lived until recently relocating to nearby Hyattsville, Maryland.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have a B.A. in culture and communication from Ithaca College with minors in art history and communication, management, and design. I realized early on that my degree alone, especially in the humanities, would not put me on any practical career path. At the time, I was interested in a career in arts management and decided to pursue internship experiences in development and communications. During my internships at the Watermill Center in New York and Fringe Arts in Philadelphia, I gained experience and a passion for some of the same skills that I use here at the Law Library of Congress— tailoring messaging and developing programs to engage our audiences.

After college I secured a position at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as the Georgetown Campus Administrator. When the college was taken over by George Washington University in 2014, I moved to the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection as the Program Coordinator for Pre-Columbian Studies. There I spent over four years managing academic programs and publications that brought me to Panama, Chile, and Colombia where we co-hosted workshops with international partners. During this time I also began my M.A. in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on outreach and communications. My graduate research on audience behavior and program evaluation has informed my work in the Office of External Relations at the Law Library, where I began my current position as Program Specialist in June 2018.

How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

As part of the External Relations team, I promote the services of the Law Library through public programs, professional visits, communications, and outreach initiatives. I am interested in measuring our impact to determine how to best engage our audiences in the public, academic, and private sectors. I also recently completed the Library’s excellent docent training program, and am qualified to give tours of the Thomas Jefferson building.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

When I saw an opening in the Office of External Relations, I thought it would be rewarding to apply my experience in programming for cultural institutions here at the Law Library. Many of the same principles of audience engagement are relevant. I had the opportunity to put some of these theories to the test when we incorporated an interactive trivia game at the Law Library’s National Book Festival table. This engaging component encouraged visitors to stay at our table longer while learning about the Law Library’s services, programs, and resources.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

This past July, I was excited to learn that the Law Library would be entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with an institution I visited during my time in the Netherlands. On July 18th, the Law Library signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Peace Palace Library of The Hague. This MOU encourages both libraries to share information about research methods and techniques as well as collection development.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

For four years, I worked as a DJ for the Ithaca College radio station, 92 WICB. The station has a modern rock format, and I hosted a specialty show called Eve Out Loud featuring all female artists.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.