Management coordinators

Interpret Europe's management coordinators are responsible for areas of activity that are directly linked to the management of the organisation. At present there are five management coordinators leading their own teams:

News Coordinator:
Marie Banks (UK)

My career in interpretation started accidentally, but what a happy accident! Having studied Biological Sciences and spent six months on a rainforest conservation project in Vietnam, I found that ‘Millennium Money’ was being spent on a new visitor attraction in Bristol, UK, which would house a tropical botanical house as part of a biodiversity exhibition, along with hundreds of live animal exhibits and an innovative mix of multimedia and hands-on exhibits to interpret life on earth. It was due to open in 2000 and sounded like the most exciting place. I got a job helping with the final stages of research and installation, which happily led on to other things. During nearly eight years there, I gained experience in all areas of the visitor centre business, from front of house as a guide, to training as a zoo keeper and working with the learning team to deliver engaging activities for schools and families. I worked my way to become the Exhibition Manager of an attraction that received nearly 200,000 visitors per year and developed a suite of travelling exhibitions for a family audience and some specifically for the Under 8s age range. The most important experience for me was a secondment to the fundraising team where I successfully secured over £2million for a redevelopment project and then led the team to develop the interpretation plan and implementation of it. This gave me more of an insight into the world of interpretation and how powerful it can be to engage people.

The At-Bristol Science Centre (of which the Wildwalk biodiversity exhibition was a part) made the tough decision to close Wildwalk in 2007 for sustainability reasons and I then moved on to become a consultant for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). WWT is a charity which manages ten reserves with visitor centres around the UK and my job in the consultancy was to apply my operational and interpretation experience, along with that of WWT’s more than 70 years’ experience, to help others all over the world to develop visitor centres and interpretive programmes to engage people with the natural world whilst minimising disturbance to wildlife. For nearly nine years, I got to travel the world and help to deliver some great projects, including the Cors Dyfi 360 Observatory in the only UNESCO Biosphere in Wales, Ballycroy National Park and Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre in Ireland, a trail for the Vallée de Mai UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles, and masterplans for sites in the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, South Korea, China, the USA, Uruguay and many more countries. During this time, I delivered training workshops in visitor centre planning and interpretation and kept my own professional development topped up by attending sessions through the UK Association for Heritage Interpretation (AHI), Visitor Studies Group (VSG) and Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I was very happy to mingle with like-minded interpreters at the IE conferences in 2015 (Krakow, Poland) and 2013 (Sigtuna, Sweden) and the US National Association for Interpretation (NAI)’s international conference in Sokcho, South Korea in 2009.

I now run my own company, called Zebraproof, and offer proofreading and copyediting in addition to interpretation planning, exhibit design and installation. Having previously volunteered to assist with proofreading for IE conference material and newsletter articles, I am pleased to have accepted the official role of News Coordinator and look forward to hearing from you all and helping to keep you all up to date with IE news.

When not at my desk, I will most often be found visiting museums, zoos, wildlife parks and heritage sites or outside enjoying a walk, mountain biking or floating above it all in my hot air balloon.

Social Media Coordinator:
Dijana Pita da Costa (Slovenia)

My career includes research in varying fields: archaeological fieldwork, museum education and outreach work, visitor research and evaluation, and social media for heritage and hyperlocal initiatives. I am one of the initiators and editors of the Facebook heritology platform Herit. I‘m also both the social media and journal editor for Sardinha, a hyperlocal publication about the Portuguese community in Slovenia.

My early interest in past culture led me in to the field of archaeology, in which I worked in the private sector for several years. At the time, attempts to communicate and interpret archaeology to community groups were almost non-existent and the desire to change the situation has brought me into the field of heritage interpretation. I won a European Social Fund award to do a PhD in Heritology (Heritage Studies) at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in collaboration with the City Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana. My research focuses on the role of archaeological heritage in museum education programmes, with special interest in the tools, methodology and theories determining how such heritage is being interpreted. 

At the City Museum of Ljubljana, I had the opportunity to experience the various fields of work in museums. I first worked in Collections Management, helping with accession registration of museum objects, and inventory and database management. I then moved to work with visitors, working in various roles such as museum guide, pedagogical instructor, and as Visitor Research Assistant in the Education Department. Recently, I have advised on the development of public programmes in the new Anin dvor Museum in my hometown, Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia.

I‘m also interested in linking the knowledge of academics with the needs of economy. I hold experience in developing and managing projects whereby young heritage graduates enhance their professional skills by collaborating with a partner from industry.

Training Coordinator:
Valya Stergioti (Greece)

I have been working in non-formal education ever since I graduated from high school, organising and delivering a wide variety of workshops aimed at both children and adults. But it was at the end of last century, while evaluating the effectiveness of information centres for my MSc Dissertation, that I discovered heritage interpretation. I was amazed and thrilled to find a theory that could explain what I witnessed in practice: that some guides and media could “hook” their audience, whereas others just couldn’t.

My interest in heritage interpretation has continued ever since. I am a Certified Interpretive Planner (awarded by the National Association for Interpretation: NAI) and completed the training for interpretive agents in the HeriQ Project.

Now, I am working as a freelance interpretive trainer and planner, still motivated by the challenge and creativity of re-inventing my training and interpretive tools. In 2010 I founded Alli Meria (meaning the "Other Side") to promote heritage interpretation in my country.

As Interpret Europe's Training Coordinator, together with a great training team, my goal is to help Interpret Europe offer a range of inspiring and effective training courses to its members.

Research Coordinator:
Nicole Deufel (Germany)

I have a keen interest in all research relevant to interpretation since completing my MSc in Interpretation Management. I recently received a PhD in Heritage Studies from University College London. My doctoral research considered the philosophy and practice of heritage interpretation, using a comparative study of England and Germany. 

I first encountered interpretation in the United States, where I worked at a historic property as a tour guide and educator. After relocating to the United Kingdom, I worked on projects raising awareness of diversity and building community capacity, before I re-entered the heritage field as a manager with the National Trust for Scotland. I subsequently managed a historic house and park in Wales, before becoming Audience Development Manager in a local authority museum service in England. In 2014, I joined a heritage consultancy back in Scotland, where I led on audience research projects, feasibility studies and business planning exercises for clients ranging from local community trusts to national museums. I will shortly take up a director post with a local authority museum service in Germany.

As a founding member of Interpret Europe, I served on its first Supervisory Committee. Since September 2014, I have been the Vice President for Policy for ICOMOS’ International Scientific Committee for Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites.

Conference Coordinator:
Bill Taylor (UK)

Conferences are a vital meeting place for our membership and for rekindling the fires of inspiration that drive us forward in our work. I am delighted to take on this important role.

I am based in the Highlands of Scotland and have a strong commitment to international cooperation and the growth of Interpret Europe. For the last nine years, I have run my own consultancy in tourism, heritage and interpretation. For 20 years, I have been actively involved in promoting the use of effective interpretation to connect visitors and communities to outstanding heritage. Most of my work has been in Scotland, but over the last few years I have been working extensively in Norway and Sweden. I chaired the very successful Vital Spark conference in Aviemore, Scotland, in 2007 and the steering group for IE’s 2013 conference in Sigtuna, Sweden. 

Before this, I worked for 30 years in a range of public bodies, including the regional development agency in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where I was heritage manager; Scottish Natural Heritage, where I was lead for tourism, and managed several of the top conservation and recreation sites in the UK. I was the first project officer on the innovative Highland Interpretive Strategy and contributed to the development and writing of the well-known ‘Sense of Place’ publication on interpretive planning. I was actively involved in the early development of the UHI Masters in Heritage Interpretation and delivered a range of modules.

Our mission

To serve all who use
first-hand experiences
to give natural and
cultural heritage a
deeper meaning