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Trustees

Eric Acree is currently Director of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library and Coordinator of the Fine Arts and Music Libraries at Cornell University. In addition to this, Eric serves as the African/African American subject specialist for Cornell University Library. At the age of seven he visited a public library in Brooklyn, New York, and borrowed a book written by Langston Hughes, Famous American Negroes. This would turn into a lifelong affair with not only books, but an interest in understanding the past and how people of African descent fit into world history. Being a Trustee of the History Center affords Eric a chance in helping others discover areas of history within Tompkins County.

Click here to listen to an interview with Eric Acree (Out of Bounds Radio Show)

 

Elizabeth (Liz) Bodner has degrees from Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine.  In her diverse career, she has been a freelance writer, a small animal vet, a magazine editor, and the head of drug safety for a global animal health pharmaceutical company.  For more than 30 years, Liz carried around an increasingly fragile copy of Kavafis’ poem Ithaca (“Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind. To arrive there is your ultimate goal...”) knowing that someday, she would relocate permanently to this great town where she felt a sense of belonging.  And so she did, in 2016.   Liz is glad to be associated with the History Center, having served as a student volunteer at the Dewitt Historical Society many years ago when it was situated in the lovely Clinton House.  She believes that history is meant to be preserved as well as made anew every day.   

Kimerly Cornish is a native of Cambridge, Maryland, and a descendant of Harriet Tubman. She is a graduate of Oberlin College with a B.A. in English with a specialization in Creative Writing and a minor in Women’s Studies. She has served as a curatorial assistant on several exhibitions, including 3x3: Three Artists/Three Projects, the first official U.S. entry in the Dakar Biennale,  as well as editorial assistant of exhibition catalogues and the academic journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. She has given talks on Harriet Tubman in contemporary visual culture for diverse audiences. She has been a member of the Harriet Tubman Boosters since 2013.

Shannon David graduated from SUNY Oswego with a B.A. in History and Binghamton University with a Masters in Public Administration. While at Binghamton, he had the pleasure of interning for the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, developing a love for the area in the process. After working for five years in local government finance in Syracuse, Shannon and his wife moved to Newfield before settling in Freeville with their two cats and newborn son Michael. Shannon presently works as a budget analyst for the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine and continues to volunteer for the Community Foundation, reviewing grants for the Rosen Library Fund. As a student of history Shannon studied American history, in particular labor, economic and Native American history. He maintains a deep appreciation for history and its critical role in providing roots in our day to day lives and context for understanding the present.  He is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve an organization and community that shares this appreciation.

David Furber is a computer programmer who has an M.A. in History from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo.  He specializes in web application development using Ruby on Rails and building complex web sites with Drupal and works for GORGES. His primary interest as a researcher was the intersection of national identity and economic rationality in colonial situations, with a dissertation on German civil administrators in Nazi-occupied Poland. He enjoys applying his technical knowledge to the discipline of history. 

David Gersh came to Ithaca from Brooklyn and Long Island in 1959 to attend Cornell.  His love of this place and its rich history has endured ever since.
He was admitted to Cornell Law School after his junior year of Arts and Sciences.  Upon graduation, he began work with a downtown firm that became Wiggins, Tsapis, Holmberg and Gersh.  He practiced law in Ithaca for 40 years, retiring in 2005.
He considers that the highlight of his legal career occurred in 1970 when then Mayor Ed Conley invited him to serve as his City Attorney, responsible for the significant legal challenges of a $ 50 million downtown redevelopment. What resulted was the creation of a pedestrian mall (The Commons) on what had been a public street and the placement of a commercial building (Center Ithaca) on what had been S. Tioga Street. 
He has enjoyed other community involvement, including serving as President of the Tompkins County Bar Association, YMCA, and Temple Beth El. 
His interest in The History Center in Tompkins County came about when he purchased Cayuga lakefront property which, strangely, had steel I-beams poking out at the water's edge.  The History Center's research revealed that the steel had been used to drydock the steamship Frontenac! Thus began an awareness and appreciation of the enduring work of this organization.

James Randall Johnson J.D.  is new to New York and the Ithaca area having moved here from Michigan in 2015.  For the past three decades he has concomitantly pursued careers as a lawyer and a college professor.  He has been on faculty at 8 colleges and universities.  Since 2004 he has been a legal and political analyst for PBS and network television affiliates.  Starting in 2006 he has also worked as a conflict journalist covering wars in Lebanon, Israel, Gaza, Syria, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Colombia and Southeast Asia.  He is currently an instructor the Department of Legal Studies at Ithaca College, He returns to Michigan 8 times a year to conduct symposia at his former university and participate in a long-running PBS television political talk show.  He did his undergraduate studies at LSU and Eastern Michigan University. He holds a Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan University, is a graduate of the Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth College and did post-JD work at the Harvard Law School in the summers of 1988 and 1990.  He is a former officer in the United States Navy, Judge Advocate General Corps and served on land and sea throughout the world.  His primary historical interest focuses on the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the political history of the United States from 1776-1835 with particular interest on the life of John Marshall. 

Paul Karakantas graduated from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1974 with a B.A. in Accounting. He was employed for most of his career by Energy East Management Corporation and NYSEG until his retirement in 2008. Paul has always had a deep interest in history, particularly American and Greek history. He is looking forward to participating in the continued growth of The History Center in Tompkins County.

Bob Kibbee was the Map and Geospatial Information Librarian at Cornell until 2010. Most of his career at Cornell was as a reference librarian specializing in census data. Bob has a strong interest in cartography and historical geography. He sees maps joining with data to forge a compelling method to engage our community in studying, creating and celebrating its history. The History Center is providing an ideal environment to develop these and other ideas for presenting and representing history, and Bob is very excited to be a part of that effort.

Adam Klausner is a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration, where he teaches Real Estate Law, Internet law, and Law for Entrepreneurs. Adam is also a practicing corporate and business lawyer of over 25 years experience, with a specialty in intellectual property matters. He provides counsel to a range of companies and individuals in fields that include real estate development, hospitality, software, information technology, social networking, and manufacturing. Adam also represents non-profit organizations, including groups dedicated to the promotion of culture, music, education, international development, and the environment.

Cindy Kramer began her involvement with The History Center by collaborating with the staff on integrating local history into a secondary Social Studies curriculum. As a history teacher at Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, she enjoys cultivating a sense of place as well as instilling an appreciation of people and events in the past. In her role as a Trustee, she values the opportunity to share her passion for history by lending support to the activities of The History Center, an important community institution that encourages people to preserve and connect to the history that surrounds us.

Ronald E. Ostman is Graduate Professor Emeritus in Communication, Cornell University, where he taught and conducted research from 1979 to 2007, and served as Department of Communication Chair from 1998 to 2003. He co-authored five historical photography books with Harry Littell: Cornell Then & Now; Great Possibilities: 150 Verne Morton Photographs; Margaret Bourke-White: The Early Work, 1922-1930; Dear Friend Amelia: The Civil War Letters of Private John Tidd, and The Photographic Legacy of William T. Clarke, Wood Hicks and Bark Peelers: A Visual History of Pennsylvania’s Railroad Lumbering Communities. Dr. Ostman also co-authored the historical photography book Superfortess Over Japan: 24 Hours With a B-29 with Jack Délano and Royal D. Colle. His academic teaching specializations and research publications includes books, journal articles, and international development communication workbooks and reading guides focusing on journalism, mass communication, communication planning and strategies, popular culture, public opinion research and theory, and social science research methods. Prior to Cornell, he also worked as teacher/researcher at the University of Minnesota, Bemidji State University, and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. His early career was as a newspaper journalist and he participated in academic public information services.

Karen Pastorello is a history professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College who earned a Ph.D. in Modern American History from Binghamton University. She became involved with the History Center while conducting research on women in Tompkins County. She studies working women in the early twentieth century and finds the challenges of recovering their hidden histories intriguing. She is currently co-authoring a book with Susan Goodier on the history of women gaining the right to vote in New York State—just in time to celebrate the woman’s suffrage centennial next year!

Nina Piccoli is the director of operations at Ancient Wisdom Productions, a brand communication & design company based in Ithaca. She helps clients develop messaging strategies that support organizational priorities and brand communication goals while guiding AWP's internal development and strategic planning. Nina has lived in Tompkins County for over twenty years, and has been involved in community organizations with missions ranging from producing theater to protecting the environment. She enjoys the study of history for the insight it brings into the stories of those who have come before us while enabling us to better understand the world around us today.

Gwen Seaquist was born and raised in the Town of Tonawanda, New York and graduated from Wells College with a B.A. in psychology in 1974 where she was the recipient of the Helen M. Zachos prize for creative writing. She graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School in 1978, was admitted to practice and litigated with the law firm of Boyce Holleman, P.C. in Gulfport, Mississippi. Upon returning to New York, she settled in Ithaca, New York where she started as legal counsel, affirmative action officer and assistant to President James J. Whalen of Ithaca College and then began teaching full time in the Ithaca College School of Business in 1983. She was admitted to the New York State bar in 1981 and has continued to work in numerous law firms in the Ithaca area, as well as teach. She has been a visiting professor at Cornell University Law School; Cornell University Hotel School; Suffolk University, Binghamton University and the United States Military Academy at West Point. She was a Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School which she attended from 1990-1991 and has written four legal textbooks. She is currently a full professor in legal studies and the Coordinator of the Legal Studies program at Ithaca College where she continues to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in law.

Kati Flynn Torello is an Accountant for Sciarabba Walker & Co., LLP and has her own small tax and bookkeeping business. A native Buffalonian, she came to Ithaca in 1983 to attend Ithaca College and fell in love. After living in various places throughout the state, she and her family moved back to Ithaca in 2003 to work and raise her daughter. She feels blessed to have found a second home in Tompkins County. Her lifelong love of American history, theater and art are what makes her work with the History Center so exciting for her.

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