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.
Deb Arenz (Term Expires 2019)
Deb is the executive director of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association. During her 20+ year museum career, she has also served as 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, purchasing co-op chair for the Mountain Plains Museum 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, hiking, biking, eating items from other people’s gardens, and playing the banjo poorly.
The President is the chair of the Committee on Organizational Partnerships (COOP)
Susan Reckseidler (Term Expires 2019)
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 Vice-President is the chair of the Committee on Regional Networking (CORN)
Thomas Kelleher (Term Expires 2019)
Tom attended his first ALHFAM conference in 1988, and has been hooked ever since by our unique and remarkably inclusive band of kindred spirits. He helped organize several regional and annual conferences, served two terms on the board, been a regional representative, worked on diverse ALHFAM committees over the years, and presents regularly on a variety of topics and techniques.
“Story” is a big part of the word “History,” and stories are a big part of the discipline as well. Here is a brief story from Tom’s own history. After a brief stint teaching high school history in his native Norwalk, Connecticut, Tom attended graduate school at the University of Connecticut. He then applied for a research historian position at Old Sturbridge Village, but was turned down. As he was about to hang up, the personnel officer asked if he would be interested in being an interpreter instead. Tom replied, “I don’t think so; my Spanish is not that good.” When the position of history interpreter was explained to him, he trepidatiously decided that it might be fun for a few months.
Thirty years later, Tom is still practicing living history and wearing many hats, both literally and figuratively, from costumed interpreter and craftsman to curator, historian, and author. Tom also regularly speaks, trains staff, presents historical characters, demonstrates and teaches historic trades at museums, parks, and historical societies across the United States. His most memorable adventure was spending a month in Romania as part of a curator exchange program sponsored by the International Partnership Among Museums. Tom is also a Registered Nurse, just in case this history thing doesn’t work out... :-)
Educated as an art historian, Sarah was formally introduced to living history when she became a volunteer for the Monmouth County Park System (NJ) at Longstreet Farm in 1983. She worked her way through contract and part time employment there while raising two sons. Sarah was offered full time employment in 1996 to create and present public programs for Historic Walnford. She is now the Site Supervisor and continues to develop and implement the interpretative programs as well as oversee the maintenance of the buildings and grounds, including the operation of the late 19th c. gristmill. All can feel right with the world when Sarah is milling cornmeal. She attended a Mid-Atlantic Regional ALHFAM conference in 1996 and won a raffle to attend the annual conference that year. She was hooked, and has attended annual and regional conferences as often as possible; always learning, enjoying the company of people who understand the joys and frustrations of this work, and presenting when time and inspiration come together. Sarah serves on the New Jersey Living History Advisory Council, and is passionate about striving for historical accuracy, multi-sensory learning, and professional development.
Back in the late 1990’s, Matt started down two different paths. In 1998 he began his career at AT&T as a technician and eventually wound up as a Website Developer responsible for managing several internal systems. Around the same time, Matt also began working at the Howell Farm Corn Maze. Over time he began getting more involved at the farm and now works on several modern aspects, behind the scenes of a historic site. While he still spends a lot of time volunteering at the corn maze, he also has been working to bring Wi-Fi and some other newer technology to the visitor’s center and some of the other properties around the farm. Matt became familiar with ALHFAM in 2003 when Howell Farm (and several other sites in New Jersey) hosted the annual meeting, and looks forward to lending his technical abilities to the organization as we update the website and expand the organization’s digital footprint.
Alisa chose a career in the history field at the early age of 13, and starting working in it by 15 at a nearby historical village. By 17 she discovered a passion for mills and milling, and apprenticed herself to the Miller to learn the trade. She attended her first ALHFAM in 1992 at Old Salem. She holds a BA in history from Kalamazoo College, and a MA from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies. She has served on EdCom for AAM in the Midwest region. Although raised in Michigan, she has worked, studied or interned in a variety of states including Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky, New York and Hawai'i. She trained in The Netherlands on windmills, and in 2007 became the first overseas student to become a Dutch certified Miller. In 2009 she was admitted to the professional & traditional grainmillers guild of The Netherlands. She currently operates the De Zwaan windmill in Holland, Michigan, and is now the author of a book titled De Zwaan, The True Story of America's Dutch Windmill. She enjoys being a part of ALHFAM, TIMS (the International Molinological Society), restoring her 1867 house, traveling, studying languages, reading, spinning, and baking on her wood burning cookstove. She stays busy balancing life as both Miller and mother to Charlie (14) and Alistair (3).
Karen is currently the Master of the Weaving Shop at Colonial Williamsburg. From Karen: Who ever thought in a million years, I would wind up working in a museum? When someone asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up”? I don’t think museum work was on my radar. My mother was the town historian and I learned to sift sand/dirt to do headstone rubbings in old abandoned cemeteries and went with her as she recorded oral histories from the oldest members of our small farming community in western NY State. I didn’t realize the importance of what we did together would lead me down a road of antiquated technology. So, with a BA in Sociology, (and what the heck do you do with that?!) I headed to Williamsburg for a summer job. That was 1987. I have worn many hats for Colonial Williamsburg, from floodways interpreter (where I was introduced to ALHFAM at Salem in the 90’s), Costume Department Supervisor, Business Analyst, Manager of Evening Programming, Compensation Analyst, and my final resting place, Master of the Weaving Shop. My husband finds wool, looms, spinning wheels, and their tools in every room of the house, but the line was drawn when I asked for sheep.
Susie MarchandSusie works at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont on the Education Team managing Family Programs (including the Children’s Farmyard); planning and teaching professional development workshops for non formal educators, teachers and farmers in Farm Based Education; and coordinates the Dairy 4-H club based at the farm. Going on 24 years at Shelburne Farms, I continue to be passionate about re-connecting visitors to food and fiber systems through hands on programming, and connecting to one of our main goals of developing an awareness and appreciation of agriculture and natural resources.
I found this amazing ALHFAMily in 2011 at the Annual Conference at Jackson’s Mill and knew immediately that you all were “my people”! ALHFAM is an incredible resource for it’s’ members with amazing regional and annual conferences, a great website with many resources to explore, and a network of support year round. I am excited to be on the board and look forward to working with you all!
An almost native Vermonter, I live in Charlotte with my husband, two kids, chickens and any other pet my kids talk me into (it’s not hard!). I love animals - cows, chickens and frogs are at the top of my list. Being outdoors exploring with a camera in my hand makes me happy and always reminds me to appreciate all of the beauty that is around us every day!
Mike can often be found at his site with his beloved printing press showing school kids how to operate it. He can also be found on top of various mountains, ridges, or at waterfalls on his hikes around O`ahu.
Directors with Terms Expiring 2020
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.
Andi is currently the Executive Director of the Sylvania Historical Village located in Sylvania, Ohio. Previously, she spent 25 years at Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio where she was the organization’s first Curator of Education.
After graduating from Wittenberg University and working on her masters degree at the University of Rochester, Andi began her museum adventures working at Orchard House, Home of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, Massachusetts. After spending four seasons there, she was hooked and continued in museum education and administration. Andi has been a frequent presenter at local, state, regional and national museum conferences and is the co-administrator of the ALHFAM list serve. She lives in Archbold with her husband and two teenagers.
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.