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State Council Executive Bios

State humanities council executive director bios, by state.

AL | AK | AS | AZ | AR | CA | CO | CT | DE | DC | FL | GA | GU | HI | ID | IL | IN | IA | KS | KY | LA | ME | MD | MA | MI | MN | MS | MO | MT | NE | NV | NH | NJ | NM | NY | NC | ND | MP | OH | OK | OR | PA | PR | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VT | VI | VA | WA | WV | WI | WY

View printable list of state council executive bios.


Alabama Humanities Foundation

Executive Armand DeKeyser

Please contact Armand DeKeyser at

Armand DeKeyser began as the new executive of the Alabama Humanities Foundation on June 1, 2012. A native of Mobile and a graduate of Auburn University, DeKeyser returned to his home state after a number of years working in Washington, DC, most notably as Chief of Staff to Senator Jeff Sessions. DeKeyser’s experience across Alabama fits with the AHF’s recently renewed commitment to offer programming in every county in the state. In addition to his more than 30 years of leadership experience in government and private business, DeKeyser is a 28-year veteran of Army active and reserve military duty.

Alaska Humanities Forum

Executive Kameron Perez-Verdia

Please contact Kameron Perez-Verdia at

Kameron Holloway Perez-Verdia is a lifelong Alaskan with two decades of leadership experience in the non-profit and education sectors. Most recently Mr. Perez-Verdia was Senior Director of Education Impact at United Way of Anchorage, where he helped to lead the 90% by 2020 Community Partnership, a collective impact initiative working to improve educational outcomes for children and youth. Mr. Perez-Verdia is currently the president of the Anchorage School Board. He is also the former President/CEO of Avant-Garde Learning Alliance, an Alaska nonprofit organization that works through partnerships to improve the capacity and effectiveness of Alaska’s rural schools and community organizations. Born in Alaska and raised in the Iñupiaq village of Point Barrow, Mr. Perez-Verdia obtained a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Puget Sound. He holds an MBA, with an emphasis in executive leadership, from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and has earned leadership certifications from Center for Human Systems and Harvard University’s Kennedy School for Executive Education. Mr. Perez-Verdia has held senior leadership positions at Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Catholic Social Services, Charter College and Alaska Pacific University. He is also the former executive director for the Family and Intercultural Resource Center in Dillon, Colorado, and former senior vice president for Girl Scouts of Colorado. He lives in Anchorage with his wife Monica, who is a nurse, and two young children, Isabel and Mariela.

Amerika Samoa Humanities Council

Executive Niualama Taifane

Please contact Niualama Taifane at

Niualama E. Taifane is the first Executive Director of the Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, which was established in 1994. She holds an M.Ed. from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Before joining the ASHC, Ms. Taifane served the American Samoa Government for 18 years through the Department of Education. She was a classroom teacher, teacher trainer, and education specialist for the Special Education Division. She taught two University of Hawaii-Special Education undergraduate courses at the American Samoa Community College under the auspices of the University Affiliated Program. She is High Talking Chief.

Arizona Humanities

Executive Brenda M. Thomson

Please contact Brenda M. Thomson at

Brenda Thomson assumed her duties as Executive Director of the Arizona Humanities Council in March 2010. "Brenda Thomson brings with her a contagious enthusiasm for humanities work and a fountain of fresh and innovative ideas to move the Council forward into the 21st century. Her passion for celebrating diverse literacies and expanding the AHC outreach to new and diverse communities is fundamentally connected to AHC's vision, mission, and values. We are extremely lucky to have Brenda at the helm," said Dr. Neal A. Lester, Chair of the Arizona Humanities Council Board of Directors.

Thomson specializes in executive management, fundraising, human resources, public speaking, community relations, and strategic planning. Prior to joining the Arizona Humanities Council, Thomson served as the Director of LearnLaw LLC, Director of The Center for Law Leadership and Management at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU, and Executive Director of the Maricopa County Bar Association.

She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Yale University in 1983 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1989. Thomson said, "I went to Yale to become a composer. I studied piano for many years and wrote music, and had dreamed of becoming a songwriter. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with literature and poetry and decided to major in English."

Her passion for literature and the humanities attracted her to the Arizona Humanities Council. "The humanities teach us about all facets of the human experience, and more. They help us bridge cultural, religious, and viewpoint differences, and learn what we have in common."

Thomson also enjoys spending time with organizations that promote education and diversity through a wide array of community and volunteer activities which include reading to 3rd graders each week with BookPALS, the Diversity Leadership Alliance, AZ State Bar Diversity Task Force, Valley Leadership, Florence Crittendon, Glendale Chamber Foundation, Phoenix Rotary 100, and Park Central Toastmasters.

Arkansas Humanities Council

Executive Jama Best

Please contact Jama Best at

California Humanities

Executive Julie Fry

Please contact Julie Fry at

Julie Fry joined Cal Humanities as its President and CEO in February 2015. Prior to joining Cal Humanities, Julie served as a Program Officer for Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, managing a grantee portfolio of more than 140 nonprofit arts organizations. Fry has extensive experience working and volunteering with arts-based organizations. Recently she has been on the Advisory Committee of the Arts Education Partnership, the Steering Committee for the Alameda County Alliance for Arts Learning, the Arts for All Pooled Fund in Los Angeles, and is the founding Chair of the Grantmakers in the Arts’ Arts Education Funder Coalition. In 2014 she was named as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts in America in Barry’s Blog. She earned her BBA in Economics and French from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, an MBA in International Finance from the University of St. Thomas (Houston), and is pursuing a MA in Historic Preservation from Goucher College (Baltimore).

Colorado Humanities

Executive Margaret A. Coval

Please contact Margaret A. Coval at

Margaret A. Coval has been Executive Director of Colorado Humanities since 1997. She joined the Colorado Humanities staff in 1982 and has served as Program Officer, Assistant Director, and Associate Director. Prior to moving to Colorado, she was employed by Binghamton University. Coval has a B.A. from Colgate University, an M.A. from the University of Denver, and is a graduate of the Center for Creative Leadership’s Executive Leadership Program. While at Colorado Humanities, Coval has developed and directed dozens of public humanities programs. She is co-founder of the High Plains Chautauqua, executive producer of the NEH funded Conversations 2000 public radio programs and the Five States of Colorado documentary film, and has developed several institutes for K-12 teachers. In 2004, Coval facilitated the merger of the Colorado Center for the Book with Colorado Humanities, securing the Center’s future and doubling the number of CH programs. She is a member of the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils and serves on the Federation’s Legislative and Conference Planning Committees. Recently she served on the Colorado Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and has served on the advisory boards of the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future and the El Pomar Foundation.

Connecticut Humanities

Executive Jason Mancini

Please contact Jason Mancini at

Jason is a lifelong Connecticut resident. He has a Ph.D., as well as an M.A., in Anthropology from the University of Connecticut. He has been a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Brown University and an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Anthropology at UConn. He is passionate about the humanities, history, culture, and the arts. In the past, he has partnered with both Connecticut Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities on projects. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition.

Delaware Humanities

Executive Michele Anstine

Please contact Michele Anstine at

Humanities DC

Executive Joy Ford Austin

Please contact Joy Ford Austin at

Joy Austin was appointed Executive Director of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC in December, 2000. She joined the council after serving as a program manager for the Center for Arts and Culture in Washington, DC. Prior to her work at the Center, Ms. Austin was a consultant to the Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI, where she worked with the Kellogg Expert in Residence Program, as well as consulted with the foundation on all aspects of the creation of a monument to the Underground Railroad. Ms. Austin received her BA in English Literature from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and a Master of Science Degree in Non-Profit Administration at Trinity College in Washington, DC. She recently completed a survey of African American Museums for the Presidential Commission planning for the National Museum of African American History and Culture and was lead consultant to the Chicago Housing Authority and the ABLA Working Group on a feasibility study for the development of a museum of public housing. Additionally, she is working on a book about black museum pioneers, which stems from her previous work with the African American Museums Association.

Florida Humanities Council

Executive Steve Seibert

Please contact Steve Seibert at

Steven M. Seibert was named Executive Director of the Florida Humanities Council in 2017, succeeding Janine Farver, who retired after 25 years with the organization. Seibert brings many years of experience in law, government, private sector, and nonprofit leadership, including involvement with council programs, service on the Board, and work with the national Federation of State Humanities Councils. Seibert is a 1977 graduate of The George Washington University, where he was chosen for Phi Beta Kappa, and is a 1980 graduate of the law school at the University of Florida. For the succeeding decade, he practiced environmental and land use law in both the public and private sectors. Seibert was elected to two terms on the Pinellas County Commission, starting in 1992, and served as its Chairperson twice. He chaired or sat on several regional and statewide committees usually dealing with water, transportation, land use or environmental issues. Gov. Jeb Bush tapped Seibert in 1999 to lead Florida’s Department of Community Affairs, and he served in that capacity until 2003. Bush called Seibert “an outstanding public servant” and said “his ability to bring people together to achieve meaningful reforms will be his lasting legacy.” Seibert has received notable appointments from four different Florida Governors and the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. A Florida Supreme Court certified mediator for over 20 years, Seibert gained a statewide reputation for helping to resolve contentious public and private sector disputes. He was awarded the statewide Excellence in Mediation Award and was significantly involved in helping to broker the end of the Tampa Bay “water wars.” He holds an “AV Pre-eminent” legal rating and has been named one of Florida’s “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend magazine. Seibert served as the initial Executive Director of the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida and as a Senior Vice President and Director of Strategic Visioning for the non-partisan “think tank,” the Collins Center for Public Policy. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Mosaic Company for over a decade, serving as Chairman of the Environmental, Health, Safety and Sustainable Development Committee and as a member of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee. Seibert is a past Chairman of the Board of the Florida Humanities Council and of The Village Square, a Tallahassee-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting civil discourse. He was elected to the Board the national Federation of State Humanities Councils and was appointed by the Chief Justice to Florida’s Judicial Management Council. Seibert is a graduate of Leadership Florida (Class XIII) and a Founding Circle member of the national Centrist Project. He has earned membership in the Association of Professional Futurists and has been a respected member of the Florida Bar for over 30 years.

Georgia Humanities Council

Executive Laura McCarty

Please contact Laura McCarty at

Laura McCarty is President of Georgia Humanities. She became part of the GH team as Program Assistant in 1994, and she has subsequently led the grant program, National History Day Georgia, the New Georgia Encyclopedia and Museum on Main Street tours. Laura McCarty is a past-president the Georgia Council for the Social Studies and the Georgia Association of Historians, as well as a past Board member of the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries, the Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land and the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta. She also serves on the Board of Selections for Georgia Women of Achivement and the Executive Committee of State Coordinators for National History Day. She is author of Coretta Scott King: a Biography (Greenwood/ABC-Clio, 2009), as well as over 30 articles for the New Georgia Encyclopedia ( ). A native of South Carolina, Laura McCarty holds the MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Georgia and the BA in English and French from Wofford College, where she also was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Laura McCarty lives in Decatur with her husband, Phillip. She is a member and part of the leadership team for North Decatur United Methodist Church.

Humanities Guåhan

Executive Kimberlee Kihleng

Please contact Kimberlee Kihleng at

Kimberlee has been the Executive Director of the Guam Humanities Council since 2005. Under her leadership, the Council has expanded its partnerships with local and regional organizations, and broadened the scope of its activities to highlight Guam’s diverse cultures, especially in relation to the larger Pacific Islands region. Kimberlee has overseen some of the Council’s most ambitious and rewarding programs, including Writing the Pacific: Albert Wendt Comes to Guam, Dance and Identity in the Pacific, four Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street exhibit tours, and NEH We The People projects, “8,000, How Will It Change Our Lives: Community Conversations on the US Military Buildup on Guam, “The Micronesian Question”: Issues of Identity, Migration and Belonging on Guam, and I Tano yan I Tasi, Land and Sea: Ecological Literacy on the US Pacific Island of Guam. Prior to her current position at the Council, Kimberlee served as the Executive Director of Mission Houses Museum, a fully accredited history museum and national historic landmark in Honolulu's Capitol District focusing on Hawaiian and Pacific history, culture and art. From 1997 to 2000, Kimberlee was the Visiting Scholar in Micronesian Studies at the University of Guam, as well as Coordinator of the Women and Gender Studies Program. Kimberlee, a Fulbright Scholar, has carried-out long-term ethnographic research in Pohnpei Island, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and short-term ethnographic study in the Republic of Palau. She earned both her MA and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Hawaii Council for the Humanities

Executive Robert Buss

Please contact Robert Buss at

Robert (Bob) Buss has been executive director of the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities since 2003 and before that served as its program officer for twenty years. Bob's academic background is in comparative philosophy, with an emphasis on religious ethics and philosophy of art. He has taught philosophy, logic and critical thinking at Chaminade University of Honolulu and world religions at Kapiolani and Honolulu Community Colleges. He has a special interest in philosophy of literature, environmental ethics, and Confucian and Buddhist studies.

Idaho Humanities Council

Executive David Pettyjohn

Please contact David Pettyjohn at

David Pettyjohn, of Oklahoma City, became IHC’s new Director in January of 2018. He has a background in historic preservation and public humanities programming. Since 2012, Pettyjohn has served as Executive Director of Preservation Oklahoma, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and coordinating historic preservation activities in the state, often working in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Oklahoma Historical Society, and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Prior to joining Preservation Oklahoma, Pettyjohn served 11 years (2001-2012) as Program Officer and later as Assistant Director for the Oklahoma Humanities Council, one of 56 humanities councils in the states and territories. Like the Idaho Humanities Council, the Oklahoma Council works extensively with organizations large and small to develop humanities programs in libraries, museums, schools, and universities to promote greater understanding of literature, history, cultural anthropology, and other humanities disciplines. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Tulsa.

Illinois Humanities

Executive Angel Ysaguirre

Please contact Angel Ysaguirre at

Angel Ysaguirre has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Director of Global Community Investing at The Boeing Company, and as a program officer at the McCormick Foundation. Before returning to Illinois Humanities as its Executive Director, he had served as its Director of Programs from 1999 to 2005. At that time, he created programs that include The Odyssey Project; Einstein's Revolutions; and Brown v Board 50 Years Later: Conversations on Race, Integration, and the Law. He's served on the boards of The Donors Forum of Illinois, Theatre Communications Group; I.C.E. (International Contemporary Ensemble), the Illinois Center for the Book, Blair Thomas & Co.; and the Next Theatre. He received his BA in English from Stetson University and his MA in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi.

Indiana Humanities

Executive Keira Amstutz

Please contact Keira Amstutz at

A former assistant deputy mayor of Indianapolis and director of cultural development, Keira Amstutz led the city's successful Cultural Development Initiative, a public private collaboration launched to elevate the city's cultural profile. Amstutz has served on a variety of community boards such as the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, Indy Hub, the White River State Park, Herron School of Art and Design Dean's Advisory Council and Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. She has served on strategic committees for many community organizations and events including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four. The Indianapolis Business Journal named her one of the city's "40 under 40" in 2006.

Amstutz grew up in Hamilton, Indiana, graduated from DePauw University and served as a fellow in the office of former Indiana governor Evan Bayh. She earned a J.D. from the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and is an alumna of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership Series.

Humanities Iowa

Executive Christopher Rossi

Please contact Christopher Rossi at

Christopher Rossi was appointed Executive Director of Humanities Iowa in December 1998. He grew up in Iowa City. Dr. Rossi holds a bachelor's degree in history and political science from Washington University, a JD from the University of Iowa College of Law, an LLM in public international law from the University of London, and a Ph.D. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining Humanities Iowa, Dr. Rossi was Assistant Professor of International Politics and Foreign Policy at American University, Washington, DC and Director of the Office of Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, White House National Security Council. He is the author of Broken Chain of Being: James Brown Scott and the Origins of Modern International Law and Equity and International Law: A Legal Realist Approach to the Process of International Decision-Making.

Humanities Kansas

Executive Julie Mulvihill

Please contact Julie Mulvihill at

In January 2007, Julie Mulvihill became the second director in the organization's 34-year history. Julie previously served as the Council's Director of Programs, a position she held since joining the Council staff in 2001. Julie has worked in Kansas' historical and cultural sector for fifteen years. Her previous experience includes serving as education coordinator at the Kansas State Historical Society and curator of education at the Johnson County Museum. Other work experience includes teaching in the Kansas University Museum Studies graduate program, where she currently instructs the Nature of Museums course. On the national level, she is active with the American Association for State and Local History, working to strengthen best practices standards in small museums. A native Kansan, Mulvihill is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a Masters in Historical Administration and Museum Studies. She lives with her husband in rural Jefferson County on the family farm.

Kentucky Humanities Council

Executive Bill Goodman

Please contact Bill Goodman at

A native of Glasgow, Ky., Goodman has served as host and managing editor of the Emmy Award-winning public affairs series Kentucky Tonight on KET (Kentucky Educational Television), since 1996. A long-time supporter of the humanities and arts in Kentucky, Bill Goodman will join the Kentucky Humanities Council on January 1, 2017. As its chief executive, Goodman will bring the same passion for developing an informed citizenry and educating the public at-large that he has performed at KET for the past 21 years. Additionally, Goodman serves as host for Education Matters, KET’s election night coverage, and One to One with Bill Goodman, where he has conducted compelling conversations with guests including Pulitzer Prize winner George Will; Nikky Finney, poet, professor and recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry; actor Richard Dreyfuss; current and former Kentucky political leaders; and many others. In April 2013, Bill was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

Executive Miranda Restovic

Please contact Miranda Restovic at

Miranda Restovic was appointed as President and Executive Director of LEH in February 2015 after serving as interim executive for the past year. Restovic began her professional career at the LEH nine years ago. She has served as LEH Deputy Director, as well as Director of the LEH’s PRIME TIME Family Reading Time program. A nationally-recognized, outcomes-driven program, PRIME TIME is the longest running and most effective humanities-focused family literacy model in the nation, serving families in all 64 parishes of Louisiana, and in 40 other states, since 1991. Restovic holds a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of New Orleans, as well as a Bachelors or Arts in International Relations and Italian from Mount Holyoke College.

Maine Humanities Council

Executive Hayden Anderson

Please contact Hayden Anderson at

Hayden W. Anderson joined the Maine Humanities Council as Executive Director in August 2012. Anderson was interim Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project in Portland for the past year, and since 2009 has served as the Development Director for the nonprofit immigration legal aid organization. A Certified Fund Raising Executive, he is an experienced nonprofit leader and certified as a strategic planning, board development, annual fund, and capital campaign consultant.

Anderson has worked in development for Seattle University, Calumet Lutheran Ministries in New Hampshire, and for a Minneapolis fundraising consulting firm. Yet he also has a broad background in the humanities, earning a Ph.D and M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Amherst College.

Maryland Humanities

Executive Phoebe Stein

Please contact Phoebe Stein at

Phoebe Stein joined Maryland Humanities as Executive Director in July 2008 and directs programming, grant making, marketing, fundraising, and governance efforts. Maryland Humanities annually brings over 1,500 free public humanities events to communities across the state through partnerships with over 500 civic, educational, cultural, business, and government organizations. More than 850,000 Marylanders experience Maryland Humanities programs each year. Stein came to Maryland Humanities after eight years with the Illinois Humanities. There she was responsible for several major initiatives, including a highly successful effort to increase the national visibility of the organization. She helped to create and promote a series of year-long public programs that stimulated and promoted informed dialogue and civic engagement in Illinois. Stein also taught Writing, American Literature, and Women’s Literature at Loyola University of Chicago and DePaul University. Stein earned her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Loyola University of Chicago. The author of numerous articles on modern American literature, she published an article in PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association, on reading communities and Literature & Medicine, a Maryland Humanities program created by the Maine Humanities Council and run nationwide. Most recently, Stein authored “Gertrude Stein’s Wars I Have Seen," a chapter in the Primary Stein (Rowman and Littlefield 2014). She is the host of “Humanities Connection” on Baltimore’s NPR station, WYPR88.1FM. Stein lives in Baltimore with her husband writer Rafael Alvarez.

Mass Humanities

Executive David Tebaldi

Please contact David Tebaldi at

David has been executive director of Mass Humanities since 1985. He earned his MA and Ph.D. in philosophy at Rutgers University, and taught philosophy and applied ethics at Rutgers College, Cook College, and the University of Wyoming. Prior to returning to his home state in 1985, David was executive director of the Wyoming Humanities Council. In that capacity, he served on a task force to assess the quality of humanities education in the state’s public schools and authored its report, “Humanities Education in Wyoming's Public Schools.” He is the editor of an anthology, Reflecting on Values: The Unity and Diversity of the Humanities and has published numerous essays and opinion pieces on the public humanities. David also has taught at Mount Holyoke College and at Amherst College.

Michigan Humanities Council

Executive Shelly Kasprzycki

Please contact Shelly Kasprzycki at

Shelly Kasprzycki joined the Michigan Humanities Council as executive director in January 2016. Shelly is a long-time nonprofit leader. Over the last 25 years, her career spans serving government as well as nonprofit organizations. She began her career in public health education in 1989 at the Jackson County Health Department, leading the Teen Pregnancy Coalition for the community, which was recognized as a model of collaboration and action by the Jackson County Human Services Collaborative Body. After five years, she accepted a position with the State of Michigan, creating the statewide partnership called the Michigan Abstinence Partnership. Shelly returned to her hometown and helped create the Jackson Nonprofit Support Center now called the Nonprofit Network. After five years, she became the President/CEO of the Jackson Community Foundation. She served as Executive Director of the American Red Cross Jackson Chapter and now serves as the Executive Director of Greater Jackson Habitat for Humanity. Shelly also has served as a nonprofit consultant in board development, fund development, and strategic planning. She has received numerous awards, co-authored “Marketing and Public Relations,” was contributing author of “Serving Children and Families through Community-University Partnerships,” and was guest author of “Board Member,” Board Source. Shelly is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University (Bachelor of Science in Health Administration) and Central Michigan University (Master of Arts Degree in Public Health Education).

Minnesota Humanities Center

Executive David O'Fallon

Please contact David O'Fallon at

David O'Fallon, PhD, became president of the Minnesota Humanities Center November 1, 2010. He has led state and national education initiatives, including executive director of the Perpich Center for Arts Education, Minnesota, and, since 2002, as CEO of the MacPhail Center for Music. He was director of arts education at the National Endowment for the Arts and staff director at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. There he led a task force that placed the arts in the national education goals. Previously he was at the University of Minensota and help develop a leadership program with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He consults widely on leadership, strategic thinking, organization development. Has extensive experience working with the Minnesota state legislature, successfully increasing public support for the humanities.

Mississippi Humanities Council

Executive Stuart Rockoff

Please contact Stuart Rockoff at

Stuart Rockoff was born in Ft. Worth and raised in Houston, Texas and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut with a BA in history.  He received his Ph.D. in US history from the University of Texas at Austin with a special emphasis on immigration and American Jewish history.  He has taught several history courses in American and ethnic history at such schools as the University of Texas and Millsaps College.  From 2002 to 2013, he served as the director of the History Department at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi. In November, 2013, he became the executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, where he works to develop and support public humanities programs around the state. He lives in Jackson with his wife Susan and their two daughters.

Missouri Humanities Council

Executive William S. Belko

Please contact William S. Belko at

Dr. William (Steve) Belko joined the Missouri Humanities Council as Executive Director in February 2015. Dr. Belko comes to the Missouri Humanities Council from the University of West Florida where he was the Director of the graduate program in Early American Studies, the Director of the graduate certificate program in Historical Preservation, and an Associate Professor of History teaching courses in U.S. Constitutional and Legal History, Jacksonian America, the Early Republic, and the Southern Frontier. Previously, Belko was the Director of the Michigan Lighthouse Project a government-nonprofit partnership created to preserve and transfer ownership of America’s historic lighthouses. Belko has worked as a Regional Director for the Missouri Secretary of State, a campaign manager, and a regional campaign coordinator for the 1992 presidential election. Dr. Belko is also an award winning author. His fourth book, Philip Pendleton Barbour, 1783-1841: An Old Republican in King Andrew’s Court is forthcoming.

Humanities Montana

Executive Ken Egan

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Before coming to Humanities Montana in February 2009, Ken Egan was a member of the Department of English at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where he began teaching in 2002. After receiving his B.A. at the University of Montana-Missoula and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he taught at Middlebury College in Vermont and Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, where he was faculty chair and divisional chair of Arts and Humanities. He served on the board of Humanities Montana during 1989-1993. Ken has received Fulbright grants to teach at the University of Athens and Comenius University in Slovakia. He has authored book-length critical studies of nineteenth-century American and Montana literature, including Hope and Dread in Montana Literature published by the University of Nevada Press in 2003. Ken was born in Polson, Montana and graduated from high school in Great Falls.

Humanities Nebraska

Executive Chris Sommerich

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Chris Sommerich became executive director of Humanities Nebraska in January 2011. He joined the staff in 2004 as director of development. Chris holds a B.A. and M.A. in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he served as undergraduate advisor for the department while a graduate assistant, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). He worked in development for the National Audubon Society's Nebraska state office for four years before coming to Humanities Nebraska.

Chris has taken a leadership role among professional fundraisers in Nebraska, serving on the board of directors for the Nebraska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and is currently its president. During his tenure, AFP-Nebraska hosted the regional Mid-America Conference on fundraising in Omaha. He served on the national planning committee for the National Humanities Conference in Omaha in 2009. Humanities Nebraska received the 2010 Nebraska Friend of Tourism Award for bringing the National Humanities Conference to Omaha.

Nevada Humanities

Executive Christina Barr

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Christina Barr became Executive Director of Nevada Humanities in January 2009. Previously she worked as a folklorist for the Western Folklife Center, the Nevada Arts Council, and the Vermont Folklife Center. She has a M.A. in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a B.A. in Slavic Cultural Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Barr has documented traditional art forms, communities, and cultural issues around North America and abroad, and has shared her work through presentations about folklife fieldwork, scholarship, and community based cultural work. She is a member of the Arts and Culture Advisory Board to the City of Elko, and is the founding president of the Salt Lake City based non-profit Culture Conservation Corps. In 2007 she received an Electronic Media Award for Best Documentary by Las Vegas Women in Communications for The 24 Hour Show radio series, which documents the lives and experiences of Las Vegas' casino and entertainment industry workers. An active participant in national and regional cultural organizations, she has served as a panelist and consultant for numerous organizations and agencies including the Idaho Commission on the Arts, Northwest Folklife, the Illinois Arts Council, the Western States Arts Federation, the American Folklore Society, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

New Hampshire Humanities

Executive Anthony Poore

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Anthony Poore began as executive director of New Hampshire Humanities in March 2018. Prior to that Anthony served as the Director of Regional and Community Outreach at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was the Assistant Dean of Southern New Hampshire University’s School of Community Economic Development. In Anthony’s 20 years of experience in the community economic development sector, he has worked as a practitioner, policy analyst, and researcher developing strategies addressing the needs of urban and rural communities through participatory cross sector collaborative processes. His is a past or present board member of organizations such as the Carsey School of Public Policy’s NH Listens Project, Neighborworks Southern NH, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NH Community Loan Fund, and the NH Endowment for Health. Anthony holds a B.A. in Social Work from Wright State University in Ohio, a Master of Business Administration from SNHU, and a Master of Science in Community Economic Development from SNHU. He lives in Manchester, NH with his wife and two daughters.

New Jersey Council for the Humanities

Interim Executive David Miller

Please contact David Miller at

New Mexico Humanities Council

Executive Brandon Johnson

Please contact Brandon Johnson at

Brandon Johnson, a native of Utah, comes to NMHC from the National Endowment for the Humanities where he served as Senior Program Officer in the Office of Challenge Grants. Prior to working at NEH, he was Director of Grants and Historical Programs at the Utah Humanities Council. He holds degrees in history from the University of Utah and the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Chicago. He is a father of three and an avid fly fisherman.

New York Council for the Humanities

Executive Sara Ogger

Please contact Sara Ogger at

Sara Ogger was appointed Executive Director of the New York Council for the Humanities in March, 2007. She began at the Council since March, 2002, as Grants Officer, going on to direct the grants program, oversee all Council-run programs, and successfully securing the Council's first significant state funding. Previously, from 1999 to 2001, she was a visiting professor of German at Montclair University in New Jersey, teaching language, literature, and humanities courses. She received her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University in 2000, where she also taught. She holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, and was a guest student at the University of Tübingen, Germany, from 1988-89. She has served as Vice Chair of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and was a member of the Advisory Board of the Project on Civic Reflection. In 2015 she joined the board of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni. She and her husband, Jean-Gabriel Neukomm of SPAN Architects, are raising two young sons in Lower Manhattan.

North Carolina Humanities Council

Executive Paula Watkins

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Paula Watkins joined the North Carolina Humanities Council as executive director in 2013. Prior to being at the North Carolina Humanities Council, she served as Assistant Director and South Carolina Book Festival Director at The Humanities Council SC.

A Hartsville, SC native, Watkins joined the staff at The Humanities Council SC in October of 2001 in the role of Finance and Business Manager. She brought two national programs to The Humanities Council SC in 2004: Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare and the traveling Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibition Barn Again. She was promoted to Assistant Director and SC Book Festival Director in 2005 and coordinated eight festivals, overseeing the addition of the Children's Fieldtrip Day, the Children's Pavilion, and the Literary Vine partnership with Richland Library. Under Watkins' leadership, the SC Book Festival attained new heights in attendance, fundraising, and cultural outreach. Watkins was recognized in 2011 with the Lucy Hampton Bostick Award from Richland Library for her efforts in advancing interest in books and libraries. During the 2013 SC Book Festival, Watkins was honored by the City of Columbia with the key to the city because of her service in the literary and cultural arts, and Saturday, May 18, 2013 was named Paula Watkins Day. Watkins is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in biological sciences.

North Dakota Humanities Council

Executive Brenna L. Gerhardt

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Brenna Gerhardt became director of the North Dakota Humanities Council in June 2008. For the previous three years, she served as the Council’s program and resource coordinator. During her time at the Council, Brenna has been an active participant in the Council's long range strategic planning process and has overseen the implementation of the Council's new programming initiatives. A native of Center, North Dakota, Brenna received her B.A. from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Following graduation, she moved to Cambridge, MA to pursue a M.T.S. from Harvard University. In 2005, she moved back to North Dakota. According to Brenna, "When my husband and I made the decision to move back to the state, we were motivated by two factors: a strong sense of community and the possibility of professional advancement. Simply put, we wanted to live in a place were people were actively engaged in their communities and where there were resources to create new opportunities for ourselves. We have never regretted our decision."

Northern Marianas Humanities Council

Executive Scott Russell

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Scott Russell, executive director as of January 2010, joined the staff of the Northern Marianas Humanities Council in December 2001 as the program officer. He was promoted to Assistant Executive Director/Program Officer in December 2004. Russell received a B.S. in political science and history from Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas. Prior to joining the Council, Russell spent 24 years in the field of historic and cultural preservation, first as Director of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Office of Historic Preservation (1977-82), and then as Deputy Director and staff historian for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Historic Preservation (1982-2001). He has written widely on the history and historic resources of the Northern Mariana Islands including Tiempon I Man'mofona, a comprehensive overview of the archipelago's ancient culture and early colonial history. Russell currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History and Culture and on the editorial board of the Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the region's first online humanities journal.

Ohio Humanities Council

Executive Patricia N. Williamsen

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Ms. Williamsen holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Toledo and an M.A. in Film History and Theory from The Ohio State University.  She began her career in nonprofit administration with the Ohio Humanities Council in 1984 as the half-time coordinator of OHC’s first Council-conducted project.  From 1985 until 1993, she served as the Council’s Assistant Director for Development and Public Relations.  She has held a variety of administrative positions, including Executive Director of Community21, Columbus’ public access television station.

She returned to the Council in 2002 as its Director of Development and was promoted to lead the agency in 2011.  In addition to fund-raising activities, Ms. Williamsen has advanced the Council’s mission by developing strategic partnerships for Council-conducted projects on civic reflection, heritage tourism, and history. Most recently, she directed “Images of the Great Depression: The New Deal in Ohio.”

An active photographer and writer, her work has been published in numerous journals and magazines; current projects include documenting street performers throughout the United States.

Oklahoma Humanities

Executive Ann Thompson

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Ann Thompson became Executive Director of the Oklahoma Humanities Council in February of 2006. Prior to coming to OHC, Thompson served as Director of the Museum at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan. She holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in American history from the University of Illinois. Ann’s background includes over 10 years’ education experience as a secondary school teacher in Bismarck, North Dakota, and as the Curator of Education at the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Additionally, Thompson served as the Executive Director of the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center in Pueblo, Colorado, and as the archivist for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C

Oregon Humanities

Executive Adam Davis

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Adam joined Oregon Humanities in August 2013 as the organization’s fifth executive director. He previously served as director of the Center for Civic Reflection and prior to that was the organization’s director of training and publications. He is the cofounder, former director, and former board chair of Camp of Dreams, a nonprofit organization providing year-round programming for underserved young people in Chicago, and the editor of Taking Action (2012) and Hearing the Call across Traditions (2009), and coeditor of Talking Service (2008) and The Civically Engaged Reader (2006). He was a longtime philosophy and literature instructor in The Odyssey Project, a college-level humanities program for low-income adults and a past leader of wilderness trail crews for the US Forest Service. Adam received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2003.

Pennsylvania Humanities Council

Executive Laurie Zierer

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Since 2004, first as Interim Executive Director, and later as Executive Director in 2012, Laurie has been responsible for designing, funding, and marketing new programming and special projects at PHC. Laurie’s special projects have included directing the Chester Cultural Corridor initiative, leading the annual Penn State Reads community author event, producing PHC’s Humanities on the Road with PCN, Humanities Live with WHYY, the Speakers Millennium Lecture with Frank McCourt, and statewide initiatives like Our Stories, Our Future.

Laurie holds a B.A. in English from Temple University and an M.A. in Rhetoric from Penn State. She is an alumnus of the 2014 class of Leadership Philadelphia, a graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College, and holds certificates in Fund Raising and Executive Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s College of General Studies. She serves on the board of New Century Trust, a National Historic Landmark in Philadelphia devoted to improving the lives of women and girls through grants and education.

Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades

Executive Cesar Rey Hernández

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Dr. Rey is a well known figure in Puerto Rico, and is a Professor at the Graduate School of Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus. He has a doctoral degree in Sociology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he received the highest national award for doctoral studies, the Gabino Barreda Prize. He has more than 29 years of academic experience, and has been the author and co-author of numerous academic books and professional articles in the fields of sociology, education, and migratory issues. He has vast administrative experience in higher education. Dr. Rey was the Puerto Rico Secretary of Education from 2001 through 2004. In 2005, he returned to the faculty at the University of Puerto Rico and continued his research, distinguishing himself recently with his work on Human Trafficking in Puerto Rico.

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities

Executive Elizabeth Francis

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Joining the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities as executive director in 2013, Elizabeth Francis leads the Council’s promotion of public history, cultural heritage, civic education and community engagement and works with the Council’s board of directors and leaders in government, higher education, and cultural organizations to connect humanities resources and perspectives with challenges and opportunities in the state. Before her role at the Council, Elizabeth was director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Brown University for 10 years. She earned her doctorate in American Studies at Brown, and her book, The Secret Treachery of Words: Feminism and Modernism in America, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2002. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Hampshire College. Elizabeth taught at Brown and the University of Rhode Island for several years, has been a member of the board of the International Charter School in Pawtucket, RI, and chaired the Grants Committee as a member of the board at RICH. As a member of the RI Commerce Corporation board in 2013-2014, Elizabeth co-authored a strategic plan to develop the creative and cultural economy. She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Council for the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University, on the Community Advisory Board for Rhode Island PBS, and on the newly re-established state Commission on Women.

South Carolina Humanities

Executive Randy L. Akers

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Randy Akers has been Executive Director of the South Carolina Humanities Council for over two decades. A graduate of Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University, he received a Ph.D. in religious studies. He has participated in archaeological digs in Israel (Roman period) since 1974. He is an instructor at the University of South Carolina. During his tenure, the Council has established a statewide humanities festival, an annual book festival and has launched the South Carolina encyclopedia project.

South Dakota Humanities Council

Executive Sherry DeBoer

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Sherry DeBoer was appointed Executive Director of the South Dakota Humanities Council on June 1, 2007. DeBoer has worked at the Council since 1987, serving in a variety of capacities. Her most previous position was as Director of the South Dakota Center for the Book program and Deputy Director of the Council. In that position, she has coordinated the South Dakota Festival of Books, The Big Read and the One Book South Dakota program.

Humanities Tennessee

Executive Timothy Henderson

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The Board of Directors of Humanities Tennessee named Tim Henderson as Executive Director of the organization following outgoing President Robert Cheatham’s retirement at the end of 2012. Henderson has been with Humanities Tennessee since 1998, serving most recently as the Director of Operations.

Henderson earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Union University in Jackson,

Tennessee, and masters’ degrees in English and information science from Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville, respectively.

Humanities Texas

Executive Michael Gillette

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Michael L. Gillette has been Humanities Texas’s executive director since 2003. His former positions include directing the LBJ Presidential Library’s Oral History Program from 1976 to 1991 and serving as director of the Center for Legislative Archives from 1991 to 2003, with responsibility for the official records of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives at the National Archives. Gillette serves on the advisory board of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University and the board of directors of the Congressional Education Foundation. He is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas and served as its president in 2009. His previous affiliations include the board of directors of the Everett Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center and the Law Library of Congress’s National Digital Library Program. Gillette is the author of Launching the War on Poverty: An Oral History and editor of Texas in Transition. His newest book, Lady Bird Johnson: An Oral History, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. He received his BA in government and his PhD in history from The University of Texas at Austin.

Utah Humanities

Executive Jodi Graham

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Jodi Graham first came to Utah Humanities in 1996, and was appointed as Executive Director in January, 2018. In her recent positions of Assistant Director and Director of the Center for Local Initiatives, she worked to bring scholars and community members together to discuss difficult issues through a humanities lens, and managed UH’s grants and outreach programs. She is a board member of the Utah Cultural Alliance, is on the leadership team of The Village Square Utah, and is a founding member of the Utah Dialogue Practice Network, whose aim is to encourage a new era of civic engagement. Jodi received her BS in Theatre from Weber State University, and still sings with her family whenever she has the chance.

Vermont Humanities Council

Executive Peter A. Gilbert

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Peter Gilbert became Executive Director of the Vermont Humanities Council in March 2002. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and an MA in English from the University of Virginia. He worked for ten years at Dartmouth College as Senior Assistant to the President, James O. Freedman, and Associate Provost. He taught English and American History at Phillips Academy in Massachusetts for eleven years and was a litigator at Hale and Dorr in Boston. A frequent commentator on Vermont Public Radio, he has been the executor for Robert Frost’s estate since 1991.

Virgin Islands Humanities Council

Executive Vacant

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Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Public Policy

Executive Matthew Gibson

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Matthew Gibson is executive director of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH). For eleven years prior to his appointment, Gibson worked at VFH as the creator and editor of Encyclopedia Virginia and director of digital initiatives. In those capacities, Gibson created an endowment of more than $1,800,000 to help sustain the encyclopedia and led projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities totaling more than $800,000. Before joining VFH in 2005, Gibson served as assistant director and then associate director of the University of Virginia Library’s Electronic Text Center. "Etext," as it was once known, was one of the university's early efforts to foster digital scholarship and create digital access to the school's library collections. Gibson received his PhD (2005) and a master's degree (1999) in English, both from the University of Virginia. In 1995, he graduated magna cum laude from the College of Charleston, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English. Gibson lives in Charlottesville with his wife Jennifer Billingsly and their children Frannie and Bennett.

Humanities Washington

Executive Julie Ziegler

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Julie Ziegler became executive director of Humanities Washington in June 2009, having served as the interim director since January 2009. An eight-year trustee of Humanities Washington (1998-2004 and 2006-present), Ziegler held a variety of board leadership positions, including chair of the Grants, Development, and Finance Committees in addition to several years on the Executive Committee. Ziegler previously held positions with several national companies, primarily in philanthropy, community outreach, and marketing. While at Safeco Insurance she managed the national grants program and several grassroots outreach programs. Prior to that, she worked as Northwest Regional Manager of the Bank of America Foundation. In a volunteer capacity she has worked on behalf of a variety of non-profit organizations such as ArtsFund, Philanthropy Northwest, United Way of King County, Leadership Tomorrow and Powerful Schools.

West Virginia Humanities Council

Executive Kenneth Sullivan

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Ken Sullivan became executive director of the West Virginia Humanities Council in 1997. A native of the Virginia mountains with Appalachian roots reaching back more than 200 years, Ken came to West Virginia in 1976. He is a historian, educated at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Rochester, and the University of Virginia. From 1979 to 1997 he edited Goldenseal, West Virginia’s popular folklife magazine, serving concurrently as state folklife director. He is the editor of the West Virginia Encyclopedia and publisher of e-WV, the online version. He is an officer of the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia and past treasurer of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. In 2015 Ken received the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor.

Wisconsin Humanities Council

Executive Dena Wortzel

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Dena Wortzel first came to the Wisconsin Humanities Council in 1994. Since that time she has worked with community organizations and humanities scholars to design public humanities programs that speak to the interests of Wisconsinites in all parts of the state, in communities of all sizes. Prior to coming to Wisconsin, Dena lived in Boston and overseas, supporting the community development efforts of rural groups in Third World nations and educating Americans about issues of world hunger and poverty. For many years she has made her home on a former dairy farm in southwest Wisconsin where she rides horses, tends a prairie, and wages war on more invasive species than she cares to name.

Wyoming Humanities Council

Executive Shannon Smith

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Shannon Smith joined the Wyoming Humanities Council as its new executive director in August 2013. Smith comes to the council after six years at EDUCAUSE, a non-profit focusing on advancing higher education through the use of information technology. She’s served on the Board of a non-profit that promotes the legacy of western historian Mari Sandoz and sat on the Nebraska State Historical Society Board of Trustees. Smith also taught at Oglala Lakota College and is author of Give me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight, which won the 2009 Non-fiction Book Award from the Wyoming State Historical Society.