Speakers & Historians Biographies | American Battlefield Trust
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Speakers & Historians Biographies

2021 National Teacher Institute

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More Bios and Speakers to Come!

Presenters, Guides & 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.


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

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 Cheeseboro

Bio 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.


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

Bio coming soon. 


Jen Epstein

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). 


Richard Houston

Bio coming soon. 


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

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.


Anne Gillespie Mitchell 

Anne Gillespie Mitchell has been at Ancestry for eleven years on products including Ancestry Library, AncestryK12 and most recently the Civil War Stories Project. She has taught genealogy courses at many national conferences including NGS, FGS and RootsTech and SLIG as well as multiple online Ancestry Academy courses. Anne has a MS degree in Computer Science from Purdue University, where she also taught Computer Science for 8 years.


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 250,000 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 (wams.nyhistory.org). 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 also serves as 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.


James "Jim" Percoco 

Bio coming soon.

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.  

Adrienne G. Whaley

Adrienne G. Whaley is an educator and history-lover who currently serves as Senior Manager of K-12 Education at the Museum of the American Revolution. Adrienne earned her Bachelor's degree in African American Studies and her Master's in Education, and previously served as Curator of Education and Public Programming at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. She has worked in both art and history museums and loves the potential for objects, artifacts and primary source documents to enrich student learning experiences. She carries her love of history and for uncovering the stories of common people into her spare time as an avid genealogist researching her own family history.


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. 


Matt Young

Bio coming soon.