Fall 2021 Virtual Teacher Institute: Hosts, Presenters & Historians Biographies

Keynote Speakers

Jeff Sharra: New York Times Best Selling Author

Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business. In 1988, Jeff’s father, Michael Shaara, died, and Jeff made the decision to sell his business, and take over the management of his father’s estate. After the critical and commercial success of the 1993 motion picture “Gettysburg”, Jeff decided to write a prequel and sequel to his father’s classic novel, The Killer Angels. In 1996, Jeff’s first novel, Gods and Generals, was published. Gods and Generals leapt onto the New York Times Bestseller List and remained there for fifteen weeks. Critics nationwide praised the book and Jeff’s writing ability, and the book was awarded the American Library Association’s Prestigious “Boyd Award”. No one was more surprised than Jeff himself. What followed were more books covering the Mexican War, American Revolution, Indian Wars, World War One, World War Two, the Korean War, as well as non-fiction books about the Civil War. 

Jeff is a three-time recipient of the American Association’s “William Young Boyd Award” for his Excellence in Military Fiction. He has also been recognized three separate times by his alma mater, Florida State University. He has received their prestigious "Artes" award, has been inducted into their "College of Criminology Hall of Fame" and in 2011, was awarded the school's first annual "Distinguished Writer's Award". He has also received The Lincoln Forum's prestigious "Richard Nelson Current" award and the "Bell I. Wiley" award from the New York Civil War Round Table. In September 2017, Jeff was honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, who awarded him their prestigious "Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment". In April 2018, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation recognized Jeff's Korea War story, "The Frozen Hours", for their "James Webb Award". Besides his books, Jeff has penned articles for three Time Entertainment, Inc “coffee table” books on the Civil War, and written introductions for the re-publications of two notable novels “Bring the Jubilee” by War Moore and “Long Remember” by MacKinlay Kantor. Jeff also helped in “Operation Homecoming” where he led writing workshops for military personnel from bases as diverse as Fort Richardson, Alaska; Fort Carson, Colorado; Quantico, Virginia; the Persian Gulf; on the USS Carl Vinson and USS Mustin. From 2007 through 2014, Jeff served as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Battlefield Trust. He currently serves on their “Alumni Board.” After years of living in Florida, New York City, and the mountains of Montana, Jeff now lives with his wife Stephanie in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 


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.

Todd W. Braisted

Todd W. Braisted is an author and independent researcher on the American Revolution, specializing in Loyalist studies. He is a Fellow in the Company of Military Historians, a past-president of the Bergen County Historical Society and the Brigade of the American Revolution. He currently serves as a history advisor to both New Jersey’s Crossroads of the American Revolution and the Revolution New Jersey Advisory Council as well as the South Carolina American Revolution Sestercentennial Commission and other organizations.

Bryan Cheeseboro

Bryan Cheeseboro works for the National Archives with the records of the Civil War.  He is a reenactor with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  He has been featured on American Battlefield Trust’s Zoom Goes the History series and Antietam Live programs.  He has written for the Emerging Civil War blog.  His presentations to the Rock Creek, DC Civil War Round Table include the programs Outside of Lincoln's White House: Civil War Men and Women of the DC Metro AreaThe Grand Reviews of the Civil War; and The 1st United States Colored Infantry.  He is also a board member of the Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington.

Codie Eash

Codie Eash serves as Operations Manager at Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center, where he has been part of the institution’s staff since 2012. He is a 2014 graduate of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication/Journalism and completed a minor in History. Codie regularly writes for publication in history blogs and magazines, participates in multiple collaborative digital history projects including Pennsylvania in the Civil War, and frequently lectures for historical organizations.

Rachel Ebersole

Rachel Ebersole is the Manager of Teen Programs at the New-York Historical Society. She currently runs the Tech Scholars program at N-YHS and is experienced at teaching HTML, CSS, and website design to middle and high school girls. Rachel also has experience working across a variety of museums and institutions offering quality programming to K-12 visitors with a focus on object-centered and inquiry-based learning, and a highly interdisciplinary, culturally responsive practice.

Adam Foreman 

Adam Foreman is the Associate Director of Education at Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago. He received his Masters degree in Public History from the University of Louisiana, participated in the Public History Institute at Yale University, obtained a Museum Studies Certificate from Northwestern University, and is currently working to complete a Doctorate of Education. Over the last 15 years, he has worked with The National WWII Museum, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, and served as Executive Director of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches. Adam joined the Pritzker team in 2021 to lead the formation of the Education Department.

Phillip S. Greenwalt

Phillip S. Greenwalt is the co-founder of Emerging Revolutionary War and a full-time contributor to Emerging Civil War. He is the author or co-author of five books on the American Revolution and American Civil War. He is currently the Chief of Interpretation and Education at Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland.

Michael Hensinger

Michael Hensinger, Manager of School Programs at the Museum of the American Revolution, is an educator who has been teaching students of all ages since 2011.  He graduated from DeSales University with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, later earning his teaching certification at Kutztown University.  He has experience working within the classrooms of both public and private schools, as well as collaborating with other education professionals to develop their instructional practices.  While a teacher, Michael helped introduce a Geography Bee, pilot a grant-funded STEM program using the TechyKids coding platform and collaborated with other professionals to launch 1:1 technology initiatives.  His passion for history led him to his current position in the museum field where he trains fellow educators on staff and develops classroom curricula and student programs.  He is a board game enthusiast and amateur board game designer. Michael currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with his wife Melissa and their rambunctious dog Fiona. 

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.

Peter “Pete” Miele

Peter "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.

Pauline Noyes

Pauline Noyes is Associate Director of Teen Programs at the New-York Historical Society, where she oversees the Tech Commons, a digital media lab for teens, and afterschool programs for teens. She has over 12 years of museum and technology experience, including positions at the Whitney Museum, the Newark Museum, the Rubin Museum and ART21. She received her masters degree in Museum Education from Bank Street College in New York.

Evan O’Brien

Evan O’Brien has served as the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum Creative Manager since the museum’s opening in 2012 and has overseen the creation, development, and management of museum exhibits, performances, and public programs. Having created and managed historical tours and experiences for 18 years, Evan specializes in the blending of theatrical performance and storytelling with historical information to provide educational and entertaining experiences for audiences and students from around the world.

Barbara Sanders

Barbara Sanders has been Gettysburg National Military Park's Education Specialist since 1999, where she oversees thousands of students visiting the park each year – whether in-person or on virtual field trips from the park’s new distance learning studio.  In addition, the park annually offers professional development opportunities for teachers, classroom loan materials and more.   Barbara was the educator on the project team for the planning and construction of the visitor center and museum, which included the concept and design for exhibits, films and computer interactive elements.  Barbara began her career within the museums of Philadelphia, and she then moved to Washington, D.C. to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from The George Washington University’s Museum Education program.  She was recently awarded the National Park Service Northeast Region’s Freeman Tilden award which recognizes creativity, advancement and ingenuity in the field.  She lives in Gettysburg with her husband, historian Scott Hartwig, and their 4-year old Brittany, Hazel. 

Vanessa Smiley

Vanessa Smiley is a historian whose roots began at Civil War and Revolutionary War sites with the National Park Service. Her Rev War park experience includes serving as the Chief of Interpretation at the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution Parks Group in South Carolina, an acting assignment as Superintendent at Guilford Courthouse NMP, and Chief of Interpretation at Morristown NHP. Vanessa is currently the Project Manager of Interpretive Media Development for the National Capital Area at Harpers Ferry Center. She received her undergraduate degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington and her Master’s degree in Resource Interpretation from Stephen F. Austin State University. Outside of her work with the NPS, Vanessa enjoys researching family histories, studying material and social culture of the 18th and 19th centuries, drinking craft beer, and attempting to make the perfect sangria. She and her husband live in Morgan County, West Virginia on their small farm where they run a nonprofit farm animal sanctuary.

Tara Walsh

Tara Walsh, works at educational media company Makematic. A former history teacher, she now works at engaging the education community to use media in meaningful ways. Makematic works with schools, teachers and history and civics institutions around the United States, such as the American Battlefield Trust, The Smithsonian, iCivics and New York Historical Society to create bite-sized American history videos to teach young Americans about their past in an engaging way. The series called Untold has been recognized by the American Association of School Librarians as best Digital Tool for 2021.

Kristopher D. White

Kris is the deputy director of education 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 ranger-historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. White is the co-founder and chief historian 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.

Dr. Angela Zombek

Dr. Zombek is a historian of the Civil War Era United States. Her first book project examined how the establishment and administration of penitentiaries influenced the administration of Civil War military prisons and shaped the identity of prisoners of war. Currently, she is working on a manuscript entitled, Stronghold of the Union: Key West Under Martial Law which is under contract with the University Press of FloridaShe is the managing editor of Kent State University Press's series "Interpreting the Civil War: Texts and Contexts," and is a Copie Hill Civil War Fellow with the American Battlefield Trust.

Before coming to UNCW, Dr. Zombek taught at St. Francis High School (Gainesville, Florida) and at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Florida. She also has experience working for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


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