Board of Directors
ALHFAM’s Board of Directors is responsible for managing the organization and for setting its policies and future direction. It includes the president, vice-president, secretary/treasurer and immediate past president, each of whom serve for two years, and nine board members. These nine board members are elected in groups of three new board members each year, each of whom serve one three-year term.
Regular board meetings are held twice a year: at the annual meeting and again in the late fall at a board member’s site. Board minutes are posted on ALHFAM.org and published in the Bulletin after they are approved by the board.
We encourage you to put forward names of individuals including your own name, who would be interested in serving on the Board and who also could make a contribution to the future of ALHFAM. Without a doubt, serving on this board is a stimulating and educational experience where Board members contribute to the growth and direction of an international organization.
Susan Reckseidler (Term Expires 2021)
For the past eleven years, Susan has been part of the senior management team at Heritage Park Historical Village where she oversees a diverse portfolio that includes public and educational programming, historical collections, exhibits, costuming and agriculture. An affinity for all things living history has followed her throughout her career – from her first stint as a costumed interpreter at Doon Heritage Crossroads (where she was first introduced to ALHFAM) to a variety of other positions at museums and historic sites in Ontario and Alberta.
Susan served a previous term on the ALHFAM Board from 2010-13, participating the development of the strategic plan, and serving as the communications committee chair. She has also served as the Western Canada Regional Representative, and the Chair for the 2014 Annual Meeting.
In her spare time, Susan enjoys exploring Calgary’s cultural attractions, parks and pathways, and quick mountain getaways – usually accompanied by her son Kieran, who will hopefully continue to think that Mom has a pretty cool career.
The President is the chair of the Committee on Organizational Partnerships (COOP)
Kathy Dickson (Term Expires 2021)
Kathy is the Director of the Museums and Historic Sites Division with the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) where she oversees operations at 25 museums and historical properties across the state. She has served as the president of the Oklahoma Museums Association and the Mountain-Plains Museums Association, and as a board member for ALHFAM. Kathy served as Co-Chair for the 2018 Annual Meeting. Though born in Idaho, Kathy has been in Oklahoma since age 5 which pretty much makes her a native Oklahoman. Kathy started work at the OHS as a seasonal worker right after graduating from college, and they still haven’t been able to get rid of her.
When not working, Kathy enjoys traveling, playing with her four grandkids, knitting, sewing, reading, camping, fishing, playing with natural dyes, spinning—badly, and spending time with her husband of 40+ years.
The Vice-President is the chair of the Committee on Regional Networking (CORN)
ALHFAM Past President
Deb Arenz (Term Expires 2021)
Deb is the director of the Public Art Lincoln and the ALHFAM webmaster. During her 20+ year museum career, she has also served as the executive director of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association, associate director for collections at the Nebraska State Historical Society, curator at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, director/curator at the Elkhorn Valley Museum, president of the Nebraska Museums Association, and as a board and nominating committee member for ALHFAM. A transplant from Connecticut, Deb now happily lives in the Great Plains with her husband and two kids and enjoys knitting, reading, biking, and eating items from other people’s gardens.
Debra Friedman (term expires 2020)Deb worked at Old Sturbridge Village in positions ranging from seasonal interpreter to senior vice president. She held the position of food historian for many years, developing programs such as Dinner in a Country Village and Hearthside Bounty and edited the Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook. She most recently wrote the prospectus and final application for the Old Sturbridge Academy Charter School that opened this past September.
Lauren McCormack (Term expires 2020)
Lauren is currently the Curator for the Marblehead Museum. Previously positions include Engage Families Project Manager and Manager of Public Programs for the USS Constitution Museum, as well as Assistant Director of Education and Coordinator of Program Development for Old Sturbridge Village.
Directors with Terms Expiring in 2020
Jim works as the museum supervisor for Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, part of Metro Parks Tacoma, in Tacoma, Washington. He oversees the museum’s administration, education program, events and public programs, curation of artifacts, retail business in the museum’s store, and grounds and structural maintenance. In his brief time at Fort Nisqually, he has co-authored the museum’s Long-Range Interpretive Plan, worked with staff to complete the StEPs Program with AASLH, and the Core Document Verification Program with AAM.
Prior to Fort Nisqually, Jim managed Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas. There, he oversaw the education program delivering tours to thousands of students and families each year; the public events program where he created several new event series providing hands-on learning opportunities for the farm’s audience; the heritage livestock program; the introduction of Speckled Sussex chickens and Gulf Coast Native sheep to the farm; grounds and structural maintenance including the foundation leveling of a 19th Century farmhouse and the construction of a cistern for a 19th Century windmill; historic farming including a kitchen garden, field crops, and orchard; and the farm’s volunteer program. During his tenure at Nash Farm, Jim co-founded the Texas Living History Association and briefly served as the association’s president before moving to Tacoma.
The place where Jim first found his calling was at Barrington Living History Farm in Washington, Texas, as a historical interpreter. After graduating with a degree in history from the University of Texas at Austin, Jim sought to share his passion of learning history with others. Involved in living history since the late 1990s, he was naturally drawn to living history museums and saw this as a way to not only teach his audience about history, but to assist them in experiencing history. Barrington offered guests an opportunity to not only read about history or see historical demonstrations, but to get hands-on with the public programs that were presented. “I want museum guests to have an experience that will create a memory they can carry with them for the rest of their life and hopefully have the same impact that living history has had on my life.”
Jim now lives and works in Tacoma, Washington along with his wife, two children and two dogs. They love the Pacific Northwest and see this being their home for some time. He has been a member and advocate of ALHFAM since the Texas conference in 2012 and looks forward to serving the organization in any way he can.
Sarah attended her first ALHFAM Regional Meeting as a graduate student in the Cooperstown Program in the mid-1980s and has been an active member for most of the years since. While getting her BFA in Art History from the College of William & Mary, few classmates would have guessed she’d end up supporting living history sites as a staff member, volunteer, and ALHFAM member! She believes there is no better way to preserve and interpret our history than to utilize original and reproduction objects along with informed, enthusiastic interpretation and accurate processes to engage the public.
Currently the Collections Manager of the Rochester Museum & Science Center, Sarah has worked at a variety of museums up and down the east coast, including Old Sturbridge Village, Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts (Bethlehem, PA), and the Culture & Heritage Museums (York County, SC). Most of the positions involved curatorial or collections management responsibilities, and Sarah is especially drawn to the challenges of caring for historical collections in the living history context.
This is Sarah’s second term on the Board, and she has also served the organization as HAT Chair and Regional Representative for the Southeast. ALHFAM is a family affair for the LeCounts . . . Chuck is a recent Past President, and their son Wil has attended meetings since he was 5 months old.
Dawn Bondhus Mueller
Dawn's position as Executive Director at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum is wide ranging and gave her the opportunity to introduce living history to this museum. Her experiences during 15+ years at Living History Farms in Iowa included serving as registrar, doing frontline interpretation; program development; and foodways programming.
Directors with Terms Expiring in 2021
Linda been in the Living History profession since the mid 90’s. In Colorado she co-founded a nonprofit to raise money for a local museum and is presently the Curator of Living History at High Desert Museum in Bend, OR. For over 20 years, she had the privilege of working in all aspects of the museum world.
Angie is the regional representative for Canada - Atlantic Region, which includes the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.
She has worked for nearly twenty-one years in interpretation and programming at Sherbrooke Village Restoration, a living history museum on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia.
She began her employment here as a front-line interpreter, working in a variety of areas including farm programming. She now works in a supervisory role. She has emerit professional certification in both heritage interpretation and tourism supervision and has taken a number of continuing education courses and certificate programs relating to museums and archiving. Her interests lie in Canadian heritage breeds, interpretation, collections, archives, photography, and nature.
Lauren has a 30+ year history in design, presenting history-based interactive entertainments, production management of corporate special events, stage managing live shows, and coaching people in work- and life-related choices. Her business, “Silhouettes By Hand”, presents a historic rare trade, as well as providing silhouette portraiture at corporate events, museum events, private events, and mail order. A former chair of PIE PIG (Programming, Interpretation, and Education Professional Interest Group), Lauren now manages ALHFAM’s Instagram, ALHFAM’s Historic Farming Facebook page, as well as is a co-chair of ALHFAM’s new Skills Training and Preservation initiative. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband, a scientist, and loves traveling for work and play. She also loves her sickle with an unusual fondness.
Directors with Terms Expiring in 2022
Katie Cannon can't believe her luck in finding "her people." She was first hired as an interpreter by Conner Prairie in 1999 and hasn't looked back. Her quest to be the one at every gathering who has the weirdest job has brought her to Claude Moore Colonial Farm and George Washington's Mount Vernon, and she is currently the Curator of Education at the DAR Museum in Washington DC. Along the way she also earned a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester.
Kay Cynova is the Director of Interpretive Resources at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, NE. She has worked at Stuhr Museum for 30 years as of 2019, in or with all departments. Kay led the interpretation department for over 20 years before interpretation was merged with the education department to become Interpretive Resources in 2014.
Kay has been a member of ALHFAM since 1992 and attended her first Mountain Plains regional conference the following year. Kay served as the MPALHFAM Regional representative from 2005 to 2017, and has assisted with assorted regional conferences through these years. Kay chaired the MPALHFAM regional in 2017.
Kay’s spare time activities include period clothing construction, period crafting, a few pet research projects which she hopes to publish in the future, reading and genealogy. Kay is also a contributor to Findagrave and will help others trying to do family research in the Central Nebraska area.
Jonathan Kuester has spent most of his life on and around farms. Growing up on a small farm in central Indiana, he spent most of his time exploring his rural environment and looking for its history. Jonathan has worked in museum and living history field for more than 25 years and has spent most of that time studying agricultural history and rural life. He is currently Director of Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview Illinois. Before Wagner, Jonathan was Farm Operations Coordinator for Volkening Heritage Farm in Schaumburg, a position that he held for 12 years.