Note: This is one in a series of spotlights on MOI staff members who have been named a “Keefer Fellow,” a monthly program aimed at recognizing staffers for their contributions to the museum and the community. This month, our Sr. Director of External Affairs (and PR Director).
Q: Explain what you do at the museum in 20 words or less.
Jeff: I oversee our communications and make sure we’re reliable, exciting, and a force for good — and that people see that.
Q: What’s a museum-related accomplishment that you’re particularly proud of?
Jeff: After a lot of fits and starts, we finally rolled out a beautiful new website earlier this year. We’re still working through some kinks, but I think it’s a good virtual reflection of the breadth and quality of the actual museum.
Q: What do you do for fun?
Jeff: I know I should say I like tennis and hiking, which is true, but it’s honestly all about hanging out with my wife and kids, exploring new places and bonding over stuff like Zelda and The Simpsons.
Q: What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this (and if money were no object)?
Jeff: Investigative journalism, travel writing, or reporting for something like The Atlantic — if I could get it.
Q: What’s the weirdest / most interesting past job you’ve had?
Jeff: Most interesting was definitely my time as a Russia/East Europe analyst in DC. I got to do some cool things, like travel abroad under cover, brief in the White House Situation Room, and have an impact on US foreign policy in a couple areas.
Q: Name a setback in your life that has ended up being a good thing.
Jeff: I got into a prestigious Eastern college out of high school, but on deferral, meaning I had to wait a year. That didn’t end up working out, so I lost my spot. Going there would have been amazing on paper, but looking back, I probably would have become an insufferable twerp if I had gone there as a teenager. Instead, I went to nearby Utah State, met my wife and my best friends, got a great education, grew up a little, had the time of my life, and then got a full-ride at a name-brand school for my master’s. (I realize this answer reeks of privilege. I have been very fortunate.)
Q: What’s something – large or small, useful or not – that you’re really good at?
Jeff: Languages and geography. I spend too much time on Wikipedia.
Q: What were you like in high school?
Jeff: Skinny and somewhat acne-ridden. Involved in things like tennis, scholastic team, a cappella, and academic clubs that somehow didn’t improve my social standing.
Q: What’s your favorite book, movie, and TV show?
Book: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
Movie: A Few Good Men or Everything is Illuminated. Or anything by Wes Anderson or John Hughes.
TV Show: oh, 30 Rock, Community, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The West Wing, Only Murders in the Building…
Q: Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
Jeff: My friends and I took up curling in college, started a club, and competed in the National College Championships in Chicago. It did not vault us to fame and fortune.