At its September 25 meeting, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission appointed Steven C. Brisson as Director of Mackinac State Historic Parks, replacing the retiring Phil Porter. Brisson is the 14th director in MSHP’s history and will begin in his new role October 4.
“Congratulations to Steve. He has truly big shoes to fill, and, on behalf of the commission, we’re confident he can do that,” Commission Chair Daniel Loepp said during the meeting. “It’s exciting and a great adventure for Steve and his family.”
Brisson brings nearly a quarter-century of experience working for the agency with him. He was originally hired by Mackinac State Historic Parks on January 2, 1996, as the Curator of Collections. In December 2003 he was appointed MSHP Chief Curator responsible for the agency’s museum programs, a position he held until being appointed Deputy Director, in 2011. As deputy director, he oversaw and managed the newly created Museum Programs and Marketing Unit. He has served on the organizations executive staff committee and budget committee for seventeen years and been involved with drafting the agency’s strategic plans since 1996. His work has including curating over a dozen long-term exhibits and administering numerous grant projects. He has authored six books for MSHP including Picturesque Mackinac, Wish You Were Here and Downtown Mackinac Island and the forthcoming Architectural Missionary with MSU Press.
“I am humbled and honored to be offered this position,” Brisson said. “As Phil often notes, we have an incredibly talented and dedicated staff whom I look forward to continue working with in my new role. It is also heartening to see how seriously the commission takes its role as stewards of the treasures under their care, and I look forward to assisting them in preserving these remarkable places.”
A sixth-generation native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Brisson grew up in western Alger County. He received a B.A. in History from Northern Michigan University and a M.A. from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies. His museum career began as a student assistant with the Michigan Bureau of History at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum and Fayette Historic Townsite. He completed a senior internship at the Henry Ford Museum in 1991. He was hired as curator for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin Sites Division from 1992-1995, before moving to Mackinac State Historic Parks.
Brisson lives on Mackinac Island in the summer and in Cheboygan in the winter with his wife Lisa, executive director of the Michigan Museums Association. They have three children – Emma, Matthew, and Andrew.
Brisson is active professionally and in the local community, having served two terms on the Michigan Humanities Council and is currently vice-president of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History. He is also current vice-chair of the Cheboygan Area Arts Council and treasurer of Northland Players, Inc. He is a member of St. Mary’s/St. Charles’ Parish in Cheboygan and Ste. Anne’s on Mackinac Island.
Mackinac State Historic Parks, a family of living history museums and parks in northern Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, is an agency within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its sites—which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums—include Fort Mackinac, the Biddle House, The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum, Historic Downtown Mackinac, and Mackinac Island State Park on Mackinac Island, and Colonial Michilimackinac, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and Michilimackinac State Park in Mackinaw City. Mackinac State Historic Parks is governed by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, established in 1895 to protect, preserve and present the parks’ rich historic and natural resources for the education and recreation of future generations. Visitor information is available at (231) 436-4100 or on the web at www.mackinacparks.com.