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.
ALHFAM Board Members at the 2021 Fall Board Meeting
OFFICERS OF THE ALHFAM BOARD OF DIRECTORS
President / Kathy Dickson (Term Expires 2023)
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 President is the chair of the Committee on Organizational Partnerships (COOP)
Vice-President / Jim Lauderdale (Term Expires 2023)
Jim is the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum Director and has served on the ALHFAM Board of Directors, as FARM PIG Co-Chair, and STP Committee Liaison. He's also a member of the Historic Fort Steilacoom Board of Directors, was the Nash Farm Manager, Texas Living History Association Vice President and President, and a Barrington Living History Farm Interpreter.
Jim joined ALHFAM and attended his first annual conference in 2012 at Farmer’s Branch Historical Park. He saw first-hand what makes it a great organization: the many knowledgeable and talented members, willing to network and share their skills with others. He has seen ALHFAM grow and become even more accessible in a digital age and he believes in the organization’s mission and feels certain ALHFAM has a role in shaping living history, farm and agricultural museums of the future.
The Vice-President is the chair of the Committee on Regional Networking (CORN)
Past-President / Susan Reckseidler (Term Expires 2023)
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.
Treasurer / Deb Friedman (Term Expires 2024)
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.
Secretary / Jessica-Maria Alicea (Term Expires 2024)
An ALHFAM member since 1999, Jessica Maria Alicea has served the organization over the years as a board and committee member. She represented ALHFAM at several AAM Museum Advocacy Days in Washington DC, and participated as the newsletter editor for the Western Region. Her experience ranges from collections, management, commercial and private rentals and filming to interpretation, education, historic building preservation, and program planning. Currently, she is the Site Manager for Rippon Lodge Historic Site in Northern Virginia.
DIRECTORS WITH TERMS EXPIRING IN 2023
William has worked at Living History museums around the west throughout his career. He is currently the Museum Specialist for the City of Brighton, Colorado. He has served in all facets of the museum world for over 20 years as a museum educator, historian, curator, and consultant. His passion is creating relevance and myth-busting through hands-on experience for museum visitors. William holds an MA in Public History with a Westward Expansion historical focus. Having been involved in heirloom agriculture, historic trades, museum theater, and development of sites from the ground-up for the last 2 plus decades, he now resides in Northern Colorado near the historic South Platte Valley. When not working, William is prowling the Rockies, fishing, backpacking, or at home tinkering in a historical fashion or cultivating his heirloom garden with his kids.
A New Jersey native, Sonrisa’s love of history began at an early age when her grandfather, a historian, would tell her stories of his childhood and take her to museums and historic sites. After earning a B.A. in American History from Alfred University, Sonrisa served as an intern at Howell Living History Farm, where she first considered a career in living history. While working on her M.A. at Western Carolina University, she worked closely with the university museum, the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Easten Band of the Cherokee Indian, and the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc. to explore other aspects of public history and preservation.
Her love of living history led her to join ALHFAM as a student and attend her first Southeastern Regional Conference in 2013. There she met her future mentor, the Director of the Trades Department at Old Salem Museum and Gardens. She spent the next two years learning to make 18th and 19th century shoes and leather goods, use a bake oven, and cook at a hearth – before returning to Howell Farm in 2015. There she served as a research intern, before assuming her current role as Education Program Coordinator. An active member of ALHFAM ever since, she served as a Mid Atlantic Regional Co-Representative from 2018–2020, and collaborated on the ALHFAM Skills Training and Preservation (STP) initiative.
When not at her desk or walking behind a plow, Sonrisa enjoys spending time with her equine and canine “children” Smokey and Rocky, reading, going to the beach, and cooking with family and friends – with home-grown veggies and the occasional 18th century receipt on the menu. Whenever given the opportunity to travel, her first response is always “Tell me when to be at the airport!”
Peter Friesen received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from New Mexico State University, focusing on History with a minor in Anthropology. He went on to receive his master’s degree in public history in 2006.
During his senior year at NMSU Peter decided to focus on a career in living history. He took an internship at Valley Forge National Historic Park, where he interpreted in 3rd person, did black powder demonstrations, helped the archaeologists dig, and manned the visitor center desk. After graduating, Peter decided to attend graduate school and focus on public history. While there he took part in a class called Time Traveling where he learned about first person interpretation. His degree plan included a research paper of journal length and quality and several hours interning at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival assisting the supply coordinator. His research paper titled Hemp, History and Museums, looked at how marijuana laws have affected public perception of hemp and how it is interpreted in living history museums. This led Peter to Colonial Williamsburg where he worked for two years finishing his research and completing a master’s degree. During this time, he started to look for a living history museum that also incorporated agriculture, which is how he came to be at HSMC. After his first year at HSMC, he received the New Professional Travel Award for the National Council of Public History’s annual conference in Louisville, KY where he presented his research on Hemp and Museums. Peter has continued his agricultural research to include tobacco, apples, livestock, and other aspects colonial farming life.
Peter also serves on the museum studies steering committee at St. Mary’s College of Maryland as well as teaching museums studies.
DIRECTORS WITH TERMS EXPIRING IN 2024
Kari began Her journey with living history and museums in 2008 with a position in the gift shop of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama where she worked her way up to Executive Director. There she fell in love with our field and developed a passion for preserving history. After a decade, she began her current position as Curator of the Alabama Agricultural Museum where she gets to focus on preserving agricultural history.
Her first ALHFAM Conference was in Farmers Branch, Texas in 2012, and she has attended many national and regional meetings since. She immediately knew that she had found her people! Our common passion in keeping the past alive, in a variety of ways, is outstanding. Since discovering this amazing organization, she has served as Southeast Regional Representative and as Southeast Regional Conference Chair.
Kerry-Leigh has 27 years of museum experience in business development, strategic planning and communications. She is currently Director of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum and runs a working farm on a national historic site that welcomes over 200,000 visitors a year. She has also served as Vice-President and Secretary General for the International Association of Agriculture Museums (AIMA) since 2012.
Aaron grew up touring historic sites across the Midwest. He is a 2020 graduate of the Jekyll Island Management Institute. He currently wears many hats at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale, Arkansas. Previously Aaron worked or interned at seven museums, historic sites, and/or aquariums in three different states. He is the President of the Arkansas Living History Association.
Aaron joined ALHFAM in 2015. Since then, he has learned quite a bit and met some amazing friends. He has presented at three conferences and helped at the 2018 annual conference in Tahlequah and the 2019 SEALHFAM regional conference.
Directors with Terms Expiring in 2025
Although I have had an avid interest in history since I can remember, I was trained to be a family doctor. I first became involved in living history ten years ago, starting as a volunteer, managing the kitchen garden at Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation. The next year I joined our site’s Board and two years ago, upon retiring, I became Board President. My first experience with ALHFAM was at the MAAHLFAM conference in 2014 at Peter Wentz Farmstead. I have attended the last two ALHFAM annual conferences virtually and presented on Seedsaving at the 2021 conference.
ALHFAM has a lot to offer to its members. I believe that diversity and outreach are key issues for our group. Going forward, we need to increase our efforts to include underrepresented groups and have them play a role in shaping our site’s interpretations to ensure that we practice effective public history. We also need to encourage and help our sites practice excellent outreach and make it easier for them to use up to date methods of producing content including social media and virtual programming. This type of programming can be an effective tool to bring the public to us to experience true living history.
I’ve worked in Interpretation my whole career, first in seasonal positions and now at Conner Prairie, where I’ve worked in Interpretation for more than 35 years. I’m currently the Domestic Trades Manager, overseeing Foodways, Gardens and Textiles staff.
I began attending ALHFAM and MOMCC meetings not long after I started at Conner Prairie. I have presented sessions at each over the years and written articles for both the ALHFAM proceedings and the MOMCC magazine. I’ve served as a conference coordinator for MOMCC and am on the planning committee for the 2023 ALHFAM at Sauder Village. I consider my involvement with ALHFAM and MOMCC to have been vital to my professional growth.
Covid has forced us, individually and as organizations, to connect to the world in ways we might not have considered. ALHFAM needs to continue to play a role in helping museums, large and small, negotiate this changing climate. Remote access has allowed us to attend conferences or visits sites that we might never visit in person. ALHFAM can help lead the way for sites as we work together to share knowledge and find best practices that we can carry forward, helping all of us grow stronger.
Jenna RileyJenna grew up in living history museums; as a child, she attended day camp at Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa every year, and still has the hearth broom and toolbox she made. Today, she serves as the Site Supervisor at Missouri Town 1855, part of Jackson County Parks + Rec just outside of Kansas City. She has an M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and has had the privilege of working at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York, the Schenectady County Historical Society in Schenectady, New York, and has interned or served as a seasonal employee at The Farmers’ Museum (Cooperstown, NY), Plimoth Plantation (Plymouth, MA), Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT), and Living History Farms. Jenna attended her first ALHFAM conference in 2011 at Jackson’s Mill in West Virginia. Although school field trip season and small staff sizes have made it difficult for her to attend many annual conferences in the subsequent decade, she’s attended several regional conferences, been an active participant in social media, and has submitted two articles for the Bulletin including an upcoming article on accessibility at Missouri Town 1855. The Fall 2020 edition of the Bulletin even features her daughter, Quinn, on the front cover.