Ben Sandberg brings over a decade of well-traveled experience working and leading cultural institutions. He received his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, and a Masters in Public Administration from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. His strategic vision is grounded in the belief that history - especially local history - is the connective tissue of communities. It is a singularly powerful tool for examining community issues today, and developing equitable solutions for the future. He is passionate about the accessibility of cultural institutions, and strives towards a world where everyone has a right to access and shape their community's cultural output. He is an accomplished industrial artist, pianist, and a fervent advocate of T. Roosevelt's "Strenuous Life" mantra.
Donna Eschenbrenner Director of Archives and Research Services
Donna began working at The History Center in 1999 as a volunteer in the archives. She was hired as an assistant on the Historic Treasures Unwrapped Project in 2000, and became archivist in 2001, where she has been ever since. Although she studied English Literature in college and graduate school, her main interest was in history. In addition to her work in the archives and research library, she serves as acting curator and manages THC high school and college programming. Her primary goal is to make The History Center's diverse collections as accessible as possible.
Cynthia Kjellander-Cantu Design and Support Specialist
Telephone: (607) 273-8284 x 223
Cynthia is originally from Texas and has been living in New York for over 18 years. With a background in Graphic Design, Photography and Digital Media Arts, she currently works in the Art Department at Tompkins Cortland Community College as an adjunct and Professional Tutor. She especially enjoys working with students involved in community based projects. Building off of the knowledge of design, her passion is using digital technology channels and history as a way to unite and expose the cultural relationships that make up communities.
Julia Taylor Director of Youth Education
Telephone: (607) 273-8284 x 229
As an accomplished community-based theater artist, educator, and facilitator, Julia brings a critical pedagogy to her work, promoting dialogue through creative processes in educational and community settings. She most recently served as the Program Director of youTHink, supporting arts and civic action programs with youth across Los Angeles County. Julia is a 2017-18 Arts Education ACTIVATE Fellow with Arts for LA and was a 2012 Create Change Professional Development Fellow with the Laundromat Project. She holds a Masters in Applied Theater from the CUNY School of Professional Studies. Along with her work at The History Center, Julia serves as a Company Member of Civic Ensemble.
Zoë Van Nostrand Marketing & Visitor Experience Coordinator
Telephone: (607) 273-8284 x 228 or x 228
With a childhood spent reading fantasy novels in the forests of Ithaca, and listening to Haudenosaunee legends on the shores of Seneca Lake, Zoë’s roots in this region grow deep. After completing degrees at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Trinity College Dublin, both with a focus on human rights and social movements, she returned home eager to tame her wanderlust of the wide world with her deep love of the Finger Lakes. Past adventures have found her volunteering with rescued elephants in Thailand, baking bread in Peru, and harvesting honey in New Zealand. Since returning home she’s coordinated child sexual abuse prevention programs with the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, built multiple websites for Ithaca-based businesses and local artists, and worked on local vineyards and farms. She’s excited to share her love of Ithaca and the Finger Lakes by connecting more people to the rich history of this land and its peoples.
Her free time is happiest spent dancing to live music, enjoying a charcuterie board paired with a local cider, practicing fiber arts and threadcraft, or cuddling up with her two cats Xena and Gabrielle at her home in Mecklenburg.
Dave Dier Office Manager and Bookkeeper
Dave spent 40+ years in the “for profit” world as a Corporate Controller and then Co-Owner and “Chief Breakfast and Books Cooker” for the William Henry Miller Inn on Aurora Street a few blocks from the Commons. When it was time to sell the inn, he wanted to move into the “not for profit” field and the perfect opportunity arose with The History Center hiring a new Office Manager/Bookkeeper. He is glad for this opportunity to stay somewhat engaged in the field of Accounting while working for an organization working to enrich the lives of folks here in Tompkins County; in his words, “a county that has given back so much to me.”
Eve Snyder HistoryForge Project Coordinator
A HistoryForge volunteer since 2018, Eve is excited to help expand its horizons under a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives (NARA). Eve is currently completing a Ph.D. in United States History from Binghamton University. Through her graduate studies, she developed an interest in the digital humanities as a tool for increasing public engagement in history. A native of New York City, Eve inherited her passion for history from her father, a historian of American Christmas traditions. Eve has recently relocated to Ithaca and is looking forward to immersing herself in its history and culture.