Spotlight on Excellence: Liisa Penner
By Cara Kaser
Liisa Penner often works ten to twelve hours a day – although she doesn’t consider it “work.” Instead, it is a passion. Liisa is the archivist for the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria. She is also the editor of the CUMTUX, the society’s quarterly journal. However, much of Liisa’s work is independent. She employs her extensive skills to document, record, and retrieve the history of Astoria, and strives to share her discoveries with the community. Liisa is one of seven recipients of a 2012 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.
Liisa began volunteering at the Clatsop County Historical Society in 1985 and joined the staff a few years later. She has collected countless stories about people in Astoria’s past. For her, Astoria’s history is made up of these stories of working people and she strives to make sure they are included in the historical record.
As a writer and editor of the CUMTUX, Liisa displays her passion for Astoria’s diverse cultures. No topic is taboo. The Daily Astorian newspaper once explained that “there are not many county historical societies that have a quarterly of the quality of the CUMTUX. And that’s because of Liisa Penner.”
Liisa also works tirelessly on her own time collecting resources and responding to the community’s desire for information about its past. She addresses public forums and leads tours of historic sites. She mentors students, scholars, and ordinary citizens in methods of reclaiming what has faded from memory. Above all, she imparts a joy of history and discovery.
For a complete list of the 2012 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award recipients visit www.oregonheritage.
Cara Kaser is the Heritage Outreach Specialist with Oregon Heritage and coordinates the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards. Nominations for next year’s awards are now available and due January 11, 2013.