Celebrating 50 Years with Michele Anstine

March 1, 2023

2023 marks two important 50th birthdays in Delaware Humanities’ world – the organization itself and that of our Executive Director, Michele Anstine! 

We sat down with Michele and asked her to reflect on her time with the organization and her 50 years in Delaware. 

For those of you who don’t know Michele, here are the three questions our staff decided should be answered as an introduction:  

Where are you from? I was born in Wilmington on March 1, 1973. Within 6 months, my parents had moved the family to my dad and his family’s “hometown” in southern Kent County outside of Milford. 

What content are you consuming right now? I am an avid podcast listener; a couple that have recently caught my attention are Ureformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children and The Turning: Room of Mirrors. I have a fascination with stories about post-apocalyptic society and human interpersonal relations, so I am currently watching The Last of Us and also a Turkish mini series called Hot Skull. I was recently introduced to Andrea Barrett’s short stories through her new book Natural History and liked it so much that I found a used copy of her 1996 National Book Award winning collection: Ship Fever. I guess you could say that I consume a fair amount of content that focuses on how human beings treat and interact with one another. 

One fun fact about you. I love animals. I currently have two cats and a dog, but grew up with rabbits, guinea pigs, a goat, a goose, a pig, and even a skunk. Later in life there were lizards too. 

And now for the main event…

When was the first time you ever heard of Delaware Humanities? I first heard of Delaware Humanities while I was an employee at Delaware Historical Society. Delaware Humanities provided grant funding for exhibits and programs, and we also tapped into the Speakers program. 

What is one of your fondest memories working at Delaware Humanities? Well, first, it is a pleasure every day to work with staff and board members and our partners who are so passionate about the humanities. I have also appreciated meeting remarkable people—like astronaut/educator Leland Melvin at one of our annual lectures and writer Alice Hoffman at the History Book Festival. 

What do you think has changed the most about Delaware over these last 50 years? About yourself? This is a tough one. I grew up in rural Delaware, with farmland all around. I thought that, living on a peninsula, the vista would never change. Now, when I visit my mother, development is all around—and I grew up in Kent County, which has not exploded as much as areas of Sussex County or southern New Castle County. Development in the state overall has raised many questions. But there are so many other changes as well. For myself? I think it is true that the older you become the less you realize you know. I hope that I am more aware of the world around me every day. 

How are you celebrating your 50th birthday? I am going out to dinner with my longtime partner. Depending on leap year my sister’s birthday is 3 –4 days before mine, and my dad’s was the day before, or 2 if it was leap year, so we always celebrated the birthdays together.  

If you could get Delaware Humanities a 50th birthday present, what would it be? A winning lottery ticket? 

What are you looking most forward to this year for Delaware Humanities? I am looking forward to connecting with 50 years of Delaware Humanities supporters, partners, and grantees and fully launching our efforts to support and elevate the humanities community in Delaware. 

50 years from now, what do you hope people are saying about Delaware Humanities? I hope people are commenting on how Delaware humanities brought them together time after time when matters of the world divided them.