Mobile Bay Battlefield

Speakers & Historians Biographies

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Keynote Speaker:

Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly is author and publisher of the website, America Comes Alive, where readers find little-known stories of America’s past. The site is a well-used resource for people who want to know more about our American story.   

Prior to starting the website, Kate wrote books for traditional publishers. Among them was Election Day: An American Holiday, an American History, and she frequently speaks on this topic, sharing colorful stories about our nation’s voting past—from how campaigning and voting have altered over the years to changes in the way the day is celebrated.

Kate is a veteran of both local and national talk and news programs and has been quoted in publications such as Time and The Wall Street Journal. She has appeared on World News Tonight, Good Morning America, The View, The CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends, and on CNN, MSNBC and The Fox News Channel

She has been an instructor at The New School, the continuing education program at New York University, and the Osher Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles where she taught history-based programs.

She has written about science history and the history of world exploration in two popular titles for Taylor Publishing, That’s Not in My Science Book and That’s Not in My Geography Book. She also completed a six-volume History of Medicine for Facts on File that is used in high school and college libraries.

She is currently on the Board of Trustees of the American Battlefield Trust and has served on a jury to select the recipients of the Ken Burns Prize given by the American Prairie Reserve. Her former board service includes the national board of the SLE Lupus Foundation, Lupus LA, the Westchester County Historical Society, and the Friends of Smith College Libraries.  She is a graduate of Smith College.


Presenters & Historians:

Garry Adelman

A graduate of Michigan State University and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Garry Adelman is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of 20 books and 50 Civil War articles. He is the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 25 years. He has conceived and drafted the text for wayside exhibits at ten battlefields, has given thousands of battlefield tours at more than 60 sites and has lectured at hundreds of locations across the country including the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. He has appeared as a speaker on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network, American Heroes Channel, and on HISTORY where he was a chief consultant and talking head on the Emmy Award-winning show Gettysburg (2011) and Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color (2015).  He works full time as Chief Historian at the American Battlefield Trust.


Mark Bielski, Ph.D.

Mark Bielski, Ph.D. is the director of Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. Mark brings a wealth of professional experience in academics, journalism and executive management to Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, where he is involved in business development, guiding, lecturing and tour itinerary design. His ability to relate history in an engaging way coupled with his warmth and sense of humor, makes him a favorite among the guests who have traveled with him. Mark has personally designed the WWII: Poland and Germany, D-Day to Berlin and The Civil War Eastern Theatre tours. 

He also hosts the History with Mark Bielski Podcast, where he and his guests, experts in their field, delve into the characters, backstories, and intrigues that drove events throughout history. His first book, Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation, describes the fascinating story of nine transplanted Poles who participated in the American Civil War. Mark’s second book, which covers the Civil War in Louisiana, a subject that has not garnered the attention it deserves.

The privileges and pleasures of Mark’s work are having the opportunity to interview and travel with numerous veterans and their families from WWII, the Korean conflict and Viet Nam. He received his Ph.D. in war studies at the University of Birmingham, England.


Kara Boehne-Miele

Kara Boehne-Miele is the High School Librarian and Library Department Chairperson for the Cumberland Valley School District in Mechanicsburg, PA.  She collaborates with teachers from all content areas on research projects and methods for incorporating technology into instruction and student experiences. Prior to her tenure in librarianship, Kara served as a middle and high school music teacher and marching band instructor in Frederick County, Maryland.  She is a 2001 graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, received her Master of Library Science with a concentration in School Library Media from the University of Maryland in 2007, and recently earned a graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.  She is currently pursuing her certification as a school administrator.


Val Branch

Val Branch is an American History teacher at Shawnee High School in Shawnee, Oklahoma where she currently teaches American History, AP American History, and Oklahoma's only Sports History. Recently voted by Shawnee students as one of the school's Most Valuable Teachers, one of her greatest desires is for students to see how the past is truly relevant to them today. This was passed on to Val from an early age when her family visited the Shiloh Battlefield which ignited a passion for history, especially the Civil War. After graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University (BA in Youth Ministry), Val took students on yearly mission trips where we would always stop at least one battlefield. After 30 years of youth ministry, she changed careers to education. Val received her Master's in History in 2019 from the University of Central Oklahoma. Val currently resides in Mustang, OK with her cat's Boomer, Sugar, Lucy, and Socks where she serves on the boards for the Czech National Cemetery in Oklahoma City and the Yukon Czech Hall, a National Historic Landmark. In addition to preserving my Czech heritage, Val enjoys traveling, the Oklahoma Sooners, the Dallas Cowboys, the Atlanta Braves, and "trudging" battlefields and cemeteries with her nieces and nephews, the Wampus Kitties. 


Dr. Edelia Carthan

Biography coming soon. 


Dr. Sophia Marshall Chapman 

Dr. Sophia Marshall Chapman is currently a Teacher Academy coach. She has a PhD in education administration, a Master's degree in curriculum and instruction emphasizing multicultural education. Formerly, she served as an associate professor at Alcorn State University and is an adjunct professor for Jackson State University teaching social institution courses.


Dr. Qianna Cutts

Biography coming soon.


Dan Davis

Dan Davis is a native of Fredericksburg, VA where his love for the Civil War began on childhood trips to local battlefields. He is a graduate of Longwood University with a bachelor’s degree in Public History. Dan has worked as a Ranger/Historian at Appomattox Court House National Historical Site and the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles on the Civil War and is a regular contributor to Emerging Civil War. He currently resides in Fredericksburg.


Adam Foreman 

Adam Foreman is the Student Programs Specialist at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Adam received his master’s degree from the University of Louisiana, participated in the Public History Institute at Yale University, and completed a Museum Studies certificate from Northwestern University. He has worked with The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, and served as Director of Melrose Plantation. Adam has been with The National WWII Museum since 2015, first managing public programs now as state coordinator of the National History Day contests in Louisiana, director of both Normandy Academy and Student Leadership Academy, and manager of Get in the Scrap! the Museum’s national service learning project.  Currently, Adam is a member of the national education committee for AASLH on the semiquincentennial of the American Revolution.


Phillip S. Greenwalt

Phillip S. Greenwalt is the co-founder of Emerging Revolutionary War and a historian with Emerging Civil War. He is the author or co-author of five publications in the Emerging Revolutionary War and Emerging Civil War Series. He is currently a park ranger with the National Park Service in Florida but has worked at American history national park sites in Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. 


Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan 

Dr. Brian Matthew Jordan is assistant professor of history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Dr. Jordan earned the M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in History at Yale University, where his dissertation, supervised by David W. Blight, earned the 2014 George Washington Egleston Prize (for Best U.S. History Dissertation) and the 2014 John Addison Porter Prize, a university-wide award. His more than fifty reviews, articles, and scholarly essays have appeared in Civil War History, The Journal of the Civil War Era, The Journal of Military History, Civil War News, and The Civil War Monitor.

Most recently, he is the author of Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2015), which scored reviews in the pages of the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, and the Wall Street Journal. A narrative history of the men who won the war but couldn’t bear the peace, Marching Home received the 2016 Governor John Andrew Award of the Union Club of Boston. At present, Jordan is editing a volume of essays about the lives of Civil War veterans and writing a life of Benjamin Butler. A native of northeastern Ohio but now a proud Texan, he serves as the book review editor for The Civil War Monitor.


Dr. Chris Mackowski

Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Emerging Civil War. He is the series editor of the award-winning Emerging Civil War Series, published by Savas Beatie, and the “Engaging the Civil War” Series, published in partnership with Southern Illinois University Press. Chris is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY, and historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield in central Virginia. He has also worked as a historian for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he gives tours at four major Civil War battlefields (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania), as well as at the building where Stonewall Jackson died. Chris has authored or co-authored a dozen books on the Civil War, and his articles have appeared in all the major Civil War magazines. Chris serves on the national advisory board for the Civil War Chaplains Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia.


Jim McMillen

Jim McMillen was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and moved to Houston, Texas at the age of six.  He is a naval veteran that served as an Air Traffic Controller for six years before entering the corporate retail field.  In 2008, Jim joined the ranks of the University of West Florida as a Museum Educator for the university’s Historic Trust. Among his duties, Jim serves as the Educational Liaison between the Trust and the Escambia County School District, and other regional school districts, to coordinate visits and events for over 14,000 children annually.  Jim is the head educator for the Pensacola Children’s Museum and recently secured a $50,000.00 grant for a new exhibit on the museum’s second floor.  Jim also serves as Vice President for the University of West Florida Staff Senate, coordinates the university’s United Way Annual Campaign, is a certified interpretive guide for the National Association for Interpretation, and a member of the Florida Association of Museums, and the Florida Council for the Social Studies.    


Pete Miele

Pete Miele is Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education at Seminary Ridge Museum and a past Instructor in the History/Philosophy Department at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.  In his current position, he designs opportunities for museum visitors and distance learners to engage with the Civil War era and its long shadow.  Prior to his current position, he worked at Seminary Ridge Museum as both Visitor Services and Education Coordinator and Visitor Services Assistant and was employed for two years at Northern Valley Regional High School District in Old Tappan and Demarest, New Jersey.  He is a 2014 graduate of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Arts in Applied History and a 2011 graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with Bachelor of Arts in History and Secondary Education.


Melvin Morris

Melvin Morris was born in Okmulgee, OK, Jan. 7, 1942, and entered the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959. He grew up in a military family, admiring an uncle who was a ”smoke jumper” in the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, an all-black airborne unit of the U.S. Army during World War II, and an older brother who served in Korea. He later asked to join the active Army and enlisted at Fort Bragg, NC, in 1961. He was one of the first soldiers to become a Green Beret (U. S. Army Special Forces) and volunteered twice for deployments to Vietnam. 

He was serving as one of five advisors on Sept. 17, 1969, but two were wounded and one killed, leaving Morris to cross enemy lines to retrieve the body of his dead comrade. “I knew I had to go and recover his body, because you don't leave a Soldier behind,” he said. “I took two volunteers to get the body of the sergeant and they were both wounded, so I helped them back. I took two bags of hand grenades, and threw hand grenade after hand grenade, then went back alone to recover the body and retrieve the maps and documents the commander was carrying.”

He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism in 1970 and, within 30 days, was back in Vietnam for his second tour of duty, having volunteered to return. 

He retired at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1985, and currently lives in Florida.

Morris received the Medal of Honor for his valorous actions on September 17, 1969, while commanding the Third Company, Third Battalion of the IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang, Vietnam. Then-Staff Sgt. Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned his battalion from a series of bunkers. Staff Sgt. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties, but did not stop until he reached safety. 

Morris received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in a March 18, 2014 ceremony in the White House.


Mia Nagawiecki

Mia Nagawiecki is Vice President for Education at the New-York Historical Society. She oversees all education initiatives at the museum, which serve over 200,000 students and teachers annually through inquiry-driven programs that enliven the teaching and learning of history. She has worked on the development of all N-YHS curriculum guides since 2009, and conceived of and is directing the Women & the American Story project, the first-ever comprehensive U.S. women’s history curriculum website ( Nagawiecki has designed and led hundreds of workshops, institutes, and credit-bearing courses for K-12 educators in New York and across the nation. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the City University of New York’s MA in Museum Studies program. Nagawiecki holds a BA in history from Barnard College and a Master’s in American studies from Columbia University.


Hoyt Phillips 

Hoyt is the Deputy Director, Teaching & Learning at Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Group. He has the privilege of managing the group that creates lessons, webinars and delivers in-person trainings to more than 10,000 K-12 educators a year. Hoyt holds a bachelor's degree in economics and finance and a master's in elementary education.


Connor Townsend 

Connor Townsend is the Associate of Audience Development at the American Battlefield Trust. Her work includes the creation of the Trust’s social media content, managing the Trust’s Youth Leadership Team, and organization of the Trust’s annual day of volunteering, Park Day. Townsend is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a B.S. in Community and Public Health. In her previous employment, she was the coordinator of a nationwide peer to peer education intuitive that at its peak was active on 75 college campuses and enrolled 700+ student peer educators.


Douglas Ullman, Jr.

Doug was a member of the American Battlefield Trust’s digital and education teams from 2010-2018, playing a key role in the creation of history content on the website, including the Civil War In4 and War Department video series, battle apps guides, and history articles.  He continues his Civil War work as an independent historian with a specific interest in New York troops and the major campaigns of 1864.  Doug is also a professional actor and teacher who has performed Off-Broadway, across the United States, and internationally, and teaches private voice lessons in Northern Virginia.  He is a graduate of New York University's Steinhardt School of Education and Culture.


Kristopher D. White

Kris is the education manager at the American Battlefield Trust. White is a graduate of Norwich University with an M.A. in Military History, as well as a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in History. For nearly five years he served as a staff military historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. White is the co-founder of Emerging Civil War and is also the co-creator of the Engaging the Civil War Series, which is a partnership between Southern Illinois University Press and Emerging Civil War. An award-winning speaker and editor, White has authored, co-authored, or edited nearly two-dozen books; and he frequently leads tours in the United States and abroad. 


Adam E. Zielinski

Is a writer and historian from New Jersey. A graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, he has been published with the Journal of the American Revolution and several other historically-based outlets. He spent four years as a special education instructor and helped develop Social Studies content with his district. He has since moved to curriculum and test development and has served as a researcher and writer on various projects with the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia and the American Battlefield Trust. An accomplished musician and a hobbyist cartographer, he spends his free time on Long Beach Island surfing. His first book, a biography on British mapmaker John Hills, is currently finding a publisher.


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