Speakers & Historians Biographies
2021 National Teacher Institute
More Bios and Speakers to Come!
Presenters, Guides & Historians:
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.
Paige Gibbons Backus
A native of Wisconsin, Paige Gibbons Backus graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Historic Preservation, and George Mason University with a master’s degree in Applied History. She has been in the public history field for close to ten years focusing on educational programming and operations working at several historic sites throughout Northern Virginia including Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Sully Historic Site, and Ben Lomond Historic Site. She currently serves Prince William County as the Historic Site Manager at Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre (a 19th century courthouse and jail complex) and Lucasville School (an African American schoolhouse). When out of the office, Paige spends her time serving on the board of the Virginia Association of Museums, exploring, being outdoors, or researching her interests which include women’s history, as well as the more morbid side of history such as death, disease, medicine, and murder. Her published works include Witness to Peace and Strife: The History of Ben Lomond in Manassas, Virginia, as well as well as numerous articles published for a variety of publications such as Emerging Civil War, Virginia Association of Museum’s Voice Magazine, Civil War Traveler, and Prince William Living.
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.
Bryan A. Cheeseboro is a historian of the American Civil War Era and a board member of The Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington. He is a military and civilian reenactor and the Reenactor Coordinator for the Alliance’s annual Fort Stevens Day event. He is the creator of The Civil War Era Historian’s Page on Facebook. He has been a featured speaker at Civil War Roundtables in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, and various other programs and podcasts. He has authored articles featured in Civil War-focused publications. Bryan is a native Washingtonian and works for the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C.
Dr. Linday M. Chervinsky (Friday Keynote Speaker)
Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is an expert on the cabinet, presidential history, and U.S. government institutions. Currently, she is serving as Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College and Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Previously, she was a historian at the White House Historical Association and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in history and political science from the George Washington University, and completed her masters and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. She is the author of the award-winning The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, which was published by Harvard University Press on April 7, 2020. Her writing has been published on CNN.com, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Ms, The Daily Beast, The Hill, and more.
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.
Amanda Shores Davis
Amanda Shores Davis has been the executive director of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore, MD, since 2014. From 2012 to 2013, Ms. Davis was the curator and Exhibitions Project Manager overseeing the museum's 1,100 object collection. Ms. Davis is a historian of 19th-century decorative arts and received her Master of Arts Degree from the Smithsonian-Corcoran College of Art and Design. She is the Greater Baltimore History Alliance's sitting president and serves on the Small Museums Association Conference Committee.
Colonel Douglas "Doug" Douds
Colonel Douds, of Stroudsburg, PA, is a faculty member at the U.S. Army War College teaching the Advanced Strategic Arts Program seminar. He has served as a strategist and senior speechwriter in the Chairman's Action Group on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He commanded a Marine fighter attack squadron in Iraq prior to earning his master's degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in June 2010. As an F/A-18 pilot, he has deployed multiple times, including two carrier deployments to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf and a western Pacific deployment. He has completed the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Instructor's course, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun), was the top honor graduate from the Amphibious Warfare School, and received two bachelor of arts degrees, in political science and history, from Wake Forest University. Doug is an avid historian and enjoys hosting educational tours of Gettysburg, PA, where he resides.
Jen Epstein has served as the Education Specialist at National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. for the last 10 years, but been a ranger in the park since 1998. She works with students and teachers on field trips, in person and virtually, hoping to inspire the next generation of park visitors and historians, as her 5th-grade teacher inspired her interest. Jen has a B.A. in history from Gettysburg College and a minor in elementary education.
William E. "Bill" Fischer, Jr.
Bio coming soon.
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.
William "Billy" Griffith, IV
William R. Griffith IV is a full-time Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide and an author/historian for Emerging Revolutionary War. He received his BA in History from Shepherd University in 2014, and MA in Military History from Norwich University in 2018. He is the author of The Battle of Lake George: England’s First Triumph in the French and Indian War (The History Press, 2016) and A Handsome Flogging: The Battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778 (Savas Beatie, 2020).
Steward Henderson is a park ranger/historian with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. He has been in this capacity since May 2007, after spending 2 years as a volunteer. Steward retired from Sun Trust Bank as a Senior Vice President in the Retail Group of the Greater Washington Region in 2005, after a 35 year career in the financial services field. He attended Howard University, the Institute of Financial Education, the American Bankers Institute, and the Consumer Bankers Association Graduate School of Retail Bank Management. He has had a life-long interest in the Civil War and is a co-founder of the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops, which is affiliated with Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields and the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Steward is also a member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers Co. B, the Civil War Trust, and the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust.
Richard Houston has been teaching high school history since 1978. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester MA. He earned his Master's Degree at Boston College and has done additional graduate work at Clark University. He has won numerous awards for his teaching including 2006 Massachusetts Outstanding Teacher of American History, Daughters of the American Revolution, 2012 Gilder Lehrman Massachusetts American History Teacher of the Year, 2019 American Battlefield Trust Teacher of the Year. He teaches all levels of US History I and US History II at Monomoy Regional High School.
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.
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.
Peter "Pete" Miele
Pete Miele is Executive Director of Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center in Gettysburg, PA. Miele has spent the last decade working in museums, secondary education, higher education, and libraries. At Seminary Ridge, he has been responsible for envisioning and constructing the museum’s robust educational and interpretive departments and is currently spearheading a new digital education initiative for the institution. A frequent lecturer, Miele has presented at national conferences of the Society of Civil War Historians, National Council for the Social Studies, and American Association of State and Local History. He is currently working on a project situating the Gettysburg Campaign in the context of a humanitarian crisis.
Beth Parnicza currently serves as the Chief of Education and Visitor Services at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. She served for 8 years as a historical interpreter at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and has written several articles on the Civil War, memory, and interpretation. A 2011 graduate of West Virginia University, she joined the National Park Service and moved to the "other Virginia" to pursue her passion for Civil War and 19th century history.
James "Jim" Percoco
James A. Percoco is a nationally recognized history educator with over 33 years of service to American education. The author of three previous books, his books A Passion for the Past: Creative Teaching of US History and Divided We Stand: Teaching About Conflict in US History are staples in collegiate social studies methods courses across the United States. Percoco has pioneered the combination of public education with public history utilizing public history opportunities throughout his curriculum. Thirty-six of his students have worked for the National Park Service, several who are currently in leadership positions. Many of his former students also became social studies/history teachers. A prolific speaker, Percoco demonstrates how to use historic sites and museums as adjuncts to his teaching and has modeled his approach in countless in-service programs nationally.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and biographer David McCullough has called Percoco, “a national treasure” and Yohuru Williams has dubbed Percoco as “America’s History Teacher.”
Percoco is a Gilder-Lehrman Teacher of the Year (Virginia) and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2011. He was the Trust’s Teacher-in-Residence from 2014-2018.
Steve T. Phan
Steve T. Phan is a Park Ranger and historian at the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Prior to his arrival at CWDW, he worked as an intern and park ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, and Rock Creek Park. A military history scholar of the Civil War era, Phan’s research focuses on military occupation, operational command, and fortifications during the Civil War. He is the author of articles about Asians and Pacific Islanders in the Civil War and the Defenses of Washington for numerous publications. He was nominated for the National Park Service Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation (2019). He holds a Master’s degree in American History from Middle Tennessee State University.
Jeff Shaara (Saturday Keynote Speaker)
Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure-two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Gettysburg.
Timothy H. Smith
A native of Baltimore, Timothy H. Smith has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at the Gettysburg National Military Park for over 25 years and is Historian of the Adams County Historical Society. He has been with ACHS since the late 1980s when he began volunteering as a research assistant. He is the author of ten books and numerous articles about the Civil War, the Gettysburg Campaign, and a host of related local history topics. He is a historical consultant for the American Battlefield Trust and a frequent lecturer at Civil War Round Tables and Seminars, and appears regularly on the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s Battle Walks Series.
Kristopher D. White
Kris is a senior 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 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.
Bio coming soon.