Managing coordinators

Interpret Europe's managing coordinators are responsible for areas of activity that are directly linked to the management of the organisation. At present there are six managing 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:
Iva Klarić Vujović (Croatia)

I was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, where I completed my formal education and where I still live and work. On my way toward working in heritage interpretation, my first step was enrollment on the Managing Sustainable Tourism Development study programme at the VERN University of Applied Sciences. There I learned about the tourism industry and the challenges it brings with its everchanging nature. But, due to my habit of always seeking different points of view, I wanted to expand this knowledge and give it another perspective, which led to my second degree in History of Art and Museology and Heritage Management at the University of Zagreb. During my studies, I also participated in an Erasmus student exchange and had a chance to spend a semester at the Paul Valery University in Montpellier, France. In 2015, after graduation and having gained experience through several student jobs, I joined Muses Ltd., Croatia’s first specialised boutique company for managing projects in culture and tourism.

In my work I am dedicated to planning, realisation and management in cultural and natural heritage interpretation, managing the process of the development of interpretation centres, visitor centres, permanent exhibitions, as well as strategic and interpretative planning for sustainable development projects of destinations, localities and cultural institutions. In 2016, I completed Unicult2020 - International Arts & Culture Management and Policy Programme, held at the University of Rijeka. The goal of the programme is to increase the participants’ knowledge and skills in cultural policy and cultural management, European cultural management and educational standards related to cultural policy.

I'm an active member of the Executive Board of Interpret Croatia - the Croatian Association for Heritage Interpretation, as well as other professional associations, such as the International Council of Museums (ICOM). In my pursuit of new experiences and active involvement in cultural interpretation at the European level, I have found my place in the sun at Interpret Europe.

Outreach Coordinator:
Alexander Colvine (France)

Like many, my path to heritage interpretation has been circuitous, but, reassuringly, there has always been a guiding light. I started out as a geography graduate, then specialised in land resource planning, to assess agricultural land quality for the Ministry of Agriculture in the UK, in the 1990’s. I surveyed some immensely beautiful landscapes and quickly learnt to ‘read’ the land. It was a ‘eureka moment’. After moving to the South of France in 1996, I managed EU-funded local heritage development projects all over Europe, mainly for rural tourism (discovery trails, trail guides, brochures, food festivals, restoring dry stone terraces, new uses for ancient irrigation systems, etc.). I continued this work when I moved to SW Scotland from 2001 to 2009, before returning to Provence. By stealth, my focus expanded to not only help local communities restore their natural and cultural heritage, but also promote it to visitors for economic gain. The logical step came in 2014, when I took part in the HeriQ Project to test out a heritage interpretation training method for guides. It all made sense. This then became the basis of IE’s certified interpretive guide (CIG) training course and I joined IE and its training team as a trainer for guides and hosts (CIH). I am also an IE Certified Interpretive Writer (CIW) and I am currently studying for an MSc in Interpretation: Management and Practice with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Having marketed and delivered guide training courses first-hand, I know that IE’s training offer works. It can benefit many organisations and help IE’s development, but we mustn’t think that people will just form an orderly queue to request our services. For instance, our great trainers need help to reach the right organisations with the right products, using the right messages to convince potential beneficiaries of the merits of an IE training course. So, my initial focus as IE’s Outreach Coordinator will be to support IE’s training offer, but, in time, this will expand to include other IE services, as and when they develop too.

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:
Bettina Lehnes (Germany)

Working with children of all ages for most of my life, I came across interpretation at a visitor centre during a family holiday in Wales. This was different from everything we knew at the time and it started to shape a new life for us.

It was my husband, Patrick, who started his business as an interpreter first. My own interpretation ‘career’ started as his non-expert proofreader and consultant in children’s affairs. I joined the business full-time in 2009. It was the same year that we started to work on the foundation of Interpret Europe.

The task that I enjoyed most during my time as Interpret Europe’s Assistant Director, was organising the annual conferences in different countries. Now I am happy to take on the task again as Conference Coordinator. Together with the Conference Team, I will do my best to create new inspiring and unforgettable conference experiences for you. Let’s see where we meet next...

Our mission

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