OMA Award Spotlight - Maria Iafelice

Recognizing excellence in Ohio museums during Arts and Humanities Month

To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2019 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. We are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.

The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.

Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.

Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2019 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2019 award for Emerging Professional of the Year.

Maria Iafelice - Toledo Museum of Art


Maria Iafelice joined the Toledo Museum of Art’s education staff in 2015, and as the Youth & Family Programs Manager at the Toledo Museum of Art, she has created an award winning teen program, expanded and grown existing events, and continues to develop interactive gallery and campus experiences for inter-generational audiences to enjoy.

After winning the OMA award for Best Education and Outreach last year, Maria’s Teen Leader Program served teens from 33 area high schools – including 8 of 11 Toledo Public High Schools  during this year’s (Y)our Teen Night events, with 100% of the teens saying they would recommend it to a friend.

Ms. Iafelice has also successfully grown two key community events. When the TMA Block Party started in 2014, it had around 1,000 participants. With Maria at the helm is has grown into a marquee summer event, attracting more than 10,000 in each of the last two years. Maria is also responsible for the Great Art Escape, the museum’s signature winter event – last year boasting more than 12,000 people during its six-day run.

In addition to these programs and events, Marie also oversees the museum’s affinity group, Circle, which is dedicated to inclusive and innovative programming to engage new audience - all while leading and mentoring a team of full- and part-time staff, interns, volunteers, and contract art instructors.

While many museums view teens and youth as an important audience for the future of their organization, many struggle to find effective strategies and tactics to engage this broad and diverse group.  Maria Iafelice has discovered ways to reach, inspire, and empower youth and teens that lets them discover the value of museums for themselves, all while building connections with the Toledo Museum of Art, their community, and each other. 

Do you know a dynamic emerging professional, helping lead the way for the future of museums?  Be sure to nominate them for the 2020 award for Emerging Professional of the Year! Learn more here.


Maria Iafelice Accepts the Award During the OMA 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony

One of the fun features of OMA's 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony was being able to recognize our honorees "accepting" their award via video message. See below for Maria Iafelice's award acceptance video.

Maria Iafelice - OMA 2019 Award Acceptance Video