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(Re) Introducing the Tanner Humanities Center Staff 

A new academic year has begun and we'd like to reintroduce ourselves and our roles at the Tanner Humanities Center.

Beth James, Associate Director
Beth is responsible for all center operations.  She handles budgets, accounts, payroll, and contracts; processes fellowship applications; coordinates all contracts for speakers and events; manages planning logistics for visiting speakers; and assures compliance with accounting, human resource, and development policies and procedures. She coordinates with Tanner Humanities Center Advisory Boards, University of Utah partners and faculty, and community organizations. She also administers the multi-university Tanner Lectures on Human Values series, organizes annual meetings for the Tanner Board of Trustees, and oversees the center’s Gateway Workshops and National Theatre Live Program. 

I stick to my normal schedule even though I’m not leaving the house. I wake up at 4:30am to walk my dog and go for a run,  I get completely dressed up for work, and I am at my desk by 8am sharp. I also don’t take off my shoes until the “work day” is over. 

Paris or Cabo San Lucas, my two favorite vacation destinations. Give me some steak frites or margaritas!

The Bureau, a French spy show on Sundance Now
I read 3-4 books per week so the answer changes quickly, but the best books I’ve read recently are Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and Before You Go by Tommy Butler.

With all the events we do every year, there’s always something new to plan or a new topic to learn more about. I’ve been able to meet some amazing people -- Margaret Atwood, Anita Hill, Tony Kushner, John Brennan, Zadie Smith, Neil deGrasse Tyson to name a few. I’ve even gotten to meet some Muppets!

Susan Anderson, Development Officer
Susan is responsible for all development activities: establishing fundraising priorities; exploring local, state, and national funding opportunities; writing and managing grants and other development and marketing documents; and researching, cultivating, stewarding, and tracking donors. She also communicates and coordinates funding efforts with development staff in the College of Humanities and assures compliance with the University of Utah’s Office of Institutional Advancement and Office of Sponsored Projects. 

Most of my work is driven by strict deadlines. That forces motivation and focus! But I also am driven by gratitude. I have friends, family members, and colleagues who are essential or frontline workers, who have been furloughed or lost their jobs, or who are juggling childcare or eldercare. So I get up early, walk a few miles, and then get to it. I take breaks in my (pandemically overplanted) garden to refresh and refuel as needed. Plus coffee.

I have performed karaoke once in the last twenty years, so I do not have a list of go-to songs! But I have been taking flamenco dance lessons twice a week for five years (now via ZOOM). It is an art form that grew out of cultural exchange and conflict and the need to express disillusion and dissent. The drama, the precision, the creativity, the passion, the rage. It all speaks to me, especially right now.

I grew up in a town of 1,000 in rural Wisconsin, and books changed my worldview, my path, and my life. I’ve always admired writers and have met a few of my favorites while at the U (Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Sonia Sanchez, Tony Kushner). And as the mother of two teenagers, I have been moved by young people and their responses to gun violence, climate change, systemic racism, and threats to American democracy.

 One of the recent highlights was having a cup of tea and chatting with Anita Hill on the day of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings! My job has enabled me to meet and work with so many amazing people committed to the humanities: our speakers, research fellows, local and national teachers, campus and community partners, and the students and lifelong learners we reach through our programs.


Katie Piula, Marketing/Communications

Katie joined the Tanner Team in the spring of 2020 and is responsible for all marketing and  communication duties. This includes assessing, targeting, and connecting with various constituencies; researching and maintaining media contacts; designing and developing promotional materials for TV, radio, print, and electronic media; and assuring compliance with the University of Utah’s marketing and communication policies and procedures. She also manages the center’s website, databases, program registration, and social media and handles audio, video, and photo logistics and production.

Music helps keep me calm and focused. Playing it, singing it, or even just sitting still and listening to it when I need a break. It also helps me to make lists and stay organized. There's nothing better then being able to cross something off a to-do list!

I love to read, sing, play music, watch old movies and scary movies and be with friends and family!

Stevie Nicks, Prince, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, Brandi Carlile and Cher

I'm new to the THC and though I haven't yet been able to experience any of the in-person events, I already love the community that supports the Center. I love the the Center's mission and its support of education and learning. I really enjoy working with Erika, Beth and Susan and am excited for our upcoming programming!

Last Updated: 6/30/21