New Historical Association director looks to keep up with growing community |

New Historical Association director looks to keep up with growing community

Grand County Historical Association Director Shanna Ganne with her two children, William and Simon.
Courtesy / Helen Sitig

As residents around the county look on at the rapid growth taking place around them, others are trying to find ways not to get left behind. That’s the challenge for Shanna Ganne, the new director of the Grand County Historical Association, whose focus in the early months of her tenure is keeping the organization a strong pillar in the community.

“The historical association is coming up on its 50th anniversary, and it’s remained a strong part of the county through community support and volunteers,” said Ganne, who took over as director in January. “We are on the cusp of change with the purchase of the ski areas, and all the growth and construction. I believe it’s a positive thing. I hope to assist the historical association to not be left behind, and to make the choices that will keep us in sync with the growing community.”

Ganne is a Texas native and graduate of Hollins University in Virginia. She moved out to Grand County about 15 years ago, where she began working in guests services for Winter Park Resort before moving into the nonprofit field. She worked with Northwest Rocky Mountain CASA, an organization that helps support and advocate for abused, neglected and at risk children for about five years, and recently graduated from Regis University with a master’s degree in nonprofit management. She’s also the executive director of the Grand County Concert Series, and helped come up with the idea of the Fraser Center for the Creative Arts.

Ganne believes her previous experience with nonprofits, along with her closely related educational background, will allow her to make a difference with the GCHA, and nurture its growth.

“I’m really interested in the business of nonprofits,” said Ganne. “It’s amazing how many people take that word nonprofit at face value, but we have to make a profit to be sustainable. Arts and humanities can be an economic driver in our community. With our museums and events, we’re an attraction.”

Ganne quickly honed in on the benefits of the association, and how to get more people interested in what the GCHA has to offer. The GCHA provides residents in the county with the resources to learn about their shared histories and the pioneers who founded the area, as well as provide photographic evidence and artifacts from the county’s earliest days.

But the organization can also be a valuable tool in helping to create a collective cultural identity.

“I like seeing how storytelling plays a role in different communities,” said Ganne. “That’s where communities gain their identity. Look at Doc Susie as a historical figure, Eisenhower coming here to fish or even the gun site of the Texas Charlie shootout. It’s just so interesting to see the role that those kinds of events play in creating our cultural identity.”

Ganne wants to encourage people to seek out their histories, but also wants to empower her staff with the resources necessary to attract new visitors, put on special events and try new things to get the community involved.

“One of my goals for the organization is to reach those people who haven’t really discover the museums in our community,” said Ganne. “I believe that is done through hosting events that bring people through the door. Hopefully people stumble in and say I didn’t know this or that about our community.”

The GCHA held their first event under Ganne last month at the Cozen’s Ranch Museum, a talk led by Tim Nicklas about legendary skier Barney McLean.

Ganne said she was excited to continue the organization’s tradition of historical lectures and events, and that they’ll also be bringing back walks and talks to historical sites this summer. She also noted that she wants to expand outreach and programming for children in the future.

“I think those kinds of things really bring people together,” said Ganne. “It’s good for the community, it’s an awesome social outlet and has a great educational aspect to it.”

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