One of the major goals of the Lewis H. Latimer House Project is to increase the communities connection to the site and encourage residents to get more involved in the initiative. And what better way to start community building than to get to know each other?! Below are bios for the team members who are collaborating on the Lewis H. Latimer House pilot program. Read more to learn about the diversity of strengths and backgrounds that have been assembled to make this project the best it can possibly be.
Anarchist Guide to Historic House Museums: Lewis H. Latimer House Pilot Project
Funded by The New York Community Trust
Historic House Trust Team Leaders
Franklin Vagnone. Executive Director, Historic House Trust of New York City; AGHHM Project Director. Franklin is the author of the Anarchist Guide to Historic House Museums concept, and lectures nationally on preservation, innovation in historic sites and design of the built environment. He has significant professional experience in preservation, architecture, design, archive formation and management, and a deep appreciation and understanding of nonprofit organizations. His popular blog TWISTED PRESERVATION presents many ideas that are a part of this pilot profgram. (BA Architecture with a minor in Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; MA Architecture, Columbia University.) Resides in Yorkville, Manhattan.
Meredith S. Horsford. Deputy Director, Historic House Trust of New York City; AGHHM Project Manager: Community. Meredith has experience conducting social histories and demographic documentation. Working on her Master’s thesis, Moving to Suburbia: A Case Study of Two African American Families in the 1950s, she conducted oral histories to investigate the African-American experience and efforts to achieve the American dream of moving to the suburbs. (BA Geography with a minor in Environmental Studies, State University of NY College at Geneseo; MA Geography, University of Delaware.) Resides in Yonkers, New York.
Olivia Cothren. Director of Special Initiatives & Development, Historic House Trust of New York City; AGHHM Project Manager: Experience. Olivia has been closely involved in the dialogue on Anarchist Guide concepts, including acting as Course Assistant for a Columbia University course on the Anarchist Guide. For her Master’s thesis, Getting Back to Work: Career-Based Partnerships Between Historic Sites & Social Service Agencies, she worked with historic house museums that partnered with social service agencies to offer programs that fulfilled community needs and equipped community members with job skills. (BA History, University of Mary Washington; MA History Museum Studies, Cooperstown Graduate Program.) Resides in Astoria, Queens.
Caroline Drabik. Director of Curatorial Affairs, Historic House Trust of New York; AGHHM Project Manager: Habitation. Caroline supports the quest to enable the fullest possible interaction with and experience of the historic domestic interior. From her work in historic houses, she has intimate knowledge of the challenges of this endeavor, yet believes strongly in the many possibilities. She is a former graphic designer and her education included studio art, fine and decorative arts history, and museum studies. (BA Fine Art, Elms College; MA Museum Studies, State University FIT). Resides in Malverne, NY.
Jonathan Mellon. Senior Architectural Conservator, Historic House Trust of New York City; AGHHM Project Manager: Shelter. Jonathan has extensive experience in historic preservation policy, planning and government relations. In addition, he has a broad understanding of New York City’s Community Board logistics and a mastery of navigating relationships with local community members, elected officials and preservation-related organizations. (BA American History, Oberlin College; MFA Historic Preservation, Savannah College of Art and Design.) Resides in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
Cequyna Moore. Administrative Coordinator, Historic House Trust of New York City; AGHHM Project Administrator. A Queens, New York native, Cequyna has experience with primary research, program development, and community-based partnerships. As an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with Greater DC Cares, she developed programming with nonprofit organizations. She has extensive knowledge of Flushing, Queens, and the diverse constituents that comprise the community. (BA Sociology, Union College; MS Historic Preservation, Pratt Institute.) Resides in Jamaica, Queens.
Edward I. Koch Fellow Team Members
Deborah Ryan. (Senior Edward I. Koch Fellow) Deborah is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a national thought leader in Community Engagement. She is a significant collaborator to the formation of The Anarchist Guide to Historic House Museums. In 1999, Deborah Ryan, RLA Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design founded the Charlotte Community Design Studio as the community outreach arm of the college of architecture. As Director of the Mayor’s Institute for City Design South and the Open Space Leadership Institute, she facilitated efforts to teach and support local community leaders in facing growth issues in their communities. In 2008, Ryan designed and developed Wikiplanning™ as an online site for increasing civic engagement in the community planning process. (BA Landscape Architecture, North Carolina State University; MLA Harvard University). Resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kenneshea Allums. Kenneshea authors the blog, Black Women UNchecked, which discusses issues relevant to black women in contemporary culture. Her professional background includes The Black Institute, The Harlem Education Writing Project, and The Dream Act. Her Master’s thesis, Promise Neighborhoods: Investigating the Government’s Views on Racial Disparities through the Lens Education, investigated causes attributed to impoverished students and lower academic performance. She has experience in primary research in the African-American community conducting oral histories and surveys on social issues. (BA Psychology and Sociology, Centenery College of Louisiana; MA in African American Studies with a concentration in Education, Columbia University.) Resides in Harlem, Manhattan.
Tamar Auber. Tamar is a freelance writer focusing on a variety of topics including the Jewish diaspora. Her work has appeared on J-Space and Slingshot. She is a correspondent at UN Earth News where she writes a weekly feature on climate change. Tamar also has social service experience, having served as the Director of the Food Pantry at the Hanson Place Campaign Against Hunger. In that position, she developed a job training program for developmentally delayed youth. Fluent in Yiddish. (BA Sociology/Anthropology, West Virginia Wesleyan College; Master of Divinity, Drew University; MA, Jewish Theology Seminary of America.) Resides in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan.
Alex Brueggeman. Alex has extensive experience with African-American historic sites through his work with the National Park Service, including Best Farm Slave Village, L’Hermitage Plantation and the Monocacy National Battlefield (Frederick, MD) and the African American Burial Ground (Manhattan). Alex is well versed in childhood education programs, public speaking, lectures and community meeting involvement. His project management skills have been fostered through involvement with the Haitian-American Caucus: Beyond Borders, as well as his work with The Latin-American Youth Center in Washington, DC. Fluent in French and proficient in Spanish. (BA Anthropology with a concentration in Caribbean Regional, Howard University.) Resides in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Xiaomeng Chi. Xiaomeng has a strong background in historic preservation, tourism, marketing and museum visitor services. In her academic and professional careers, Xiaomeng has developed research skills and a sensitivity to community needs during historic preservation projects. She has frequently volunteered as a translator for non-profits and corporations in both China and the United States. Fluent in Mandarin. (BS Management (Tourism) with a minor in German, Xi’an International Studies University, School of Tourism, Xi’an, Shann’xi, China; MA Historic Preservation, Georgia State University.) Resides in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
YoonJin Choi. YoonJin brings her knowledge of Korean culture, media, entertainment and the arts to the Anarchist Guide project. She worked on the production team for the television program Gag Tonight, a comedy program that aired on the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS). In this role, she researched and sourced items for the set. Fluent in Korean. (BA Media Studies with a minor in History, Hunter College.) Resides in Upper West Side, Manhattan.
Courtney Cohen. A lifelong resident of Flushing, Courtney brings her knowledge of the community, personal connections to Lewis H. Latimer House and community insight to the Anarchist Guide project. Courtney witnessed the ribbon cutting at Latimer House after its initial restoration, instilling within her a passion for the legacy of Lewis Latimer and a fondness for his home. Her community involvement, including work experience at the local Police Athletic League and her role as Youth Council Advisor for the Northeast Queens Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), establishes her as a key aspect to the important community engagement efforts of the Anarchist Guide project. (BA Sociology, City University of New York, York College.) Resides in Flushing, Queens.
Patrick Dickerson. Patrick is currently pursuing a Master’s in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. He was a Nonprofit Management intern at the Historic House Trust in summer 2013, where he conducted extensive research on the historic and present community of Flushing. He produced a community report focusing on the diverse demographic makeup of Flushing, which has been an essential resource in the beginning stages of the Anarchist Guide project. Patrick has also acted as translator for many of the Anarchist Guide printed materials. Fluent in Spanish; basic understanding of Arabic and Chinese. (BA History and Spanish with a minor in Museum Studies, Towson University) Resides in Cooperstown, New York.
Renee Foster. A native of Flushing, Renee has extensive experience in media consultation for arts and entertainment organizations. Her love, knowledge and enthusiasm of community based local organizations and social understanding of the complex cultural mix of Flushing make her an ideal member of the Anarchist Guide team. She has been a freelance reporter and researcher at InStyle Magazine, Founder of Renegade Public Relations, and worked at BRAVO Communications/NBC Studios. (BS Producing Minor, Digital Media and Communications, NYU Paul McGhee School of Continuing Professional Studies.)
Resides in Kew Gardens, Queens.
Danielle Hodes. Danielle is currently pursuing a Master’s in Museum Studies at New York University. Her work with special programs at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, New-York Historical Society and Columbia Museum of Art have refined her expertise in developing museum programming and liaising with the public. Recently, she provided research for the exhibition The Loves of Aaron Burr: Portraits in Corsetry and Binding at the Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum. Through her work at Morris-Jumel, Danielle has developed an interest in connecting diverse community members to their local historic house museum. Reading knowledge of Spanish, French and Hebrew. (BA Art History and Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience, University of South Carolina.) Resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Monica Montgomery. Monica is an entrepreneur and cultural ambassador currently transitioning to a career in the museum field. Her diverse work background, unique energy and passion for community engagement prime her for a leadership role in the Anarchist Guide project. In a recent internship with Cool Culture, she performed lead generation, marketing support and data collection to strenthen operations and help income-eligible families access New York City’s world-class cultural institutions for free. Monica has created museum-centered education lesson plans, is experienced in art-infused project-based learning and worked as the Director of Development and Public Relations for a school serving children on the autism spectrum. Additionally, she was Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Arete. (BA Broadcast Communication, Temple University; MA Corporate Communication, La Salle University.) Resides in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
Victoria Sheridan. Victoria has extenstive primary research, archaeology and museum experience. She has worked on diverse projects including the Guantanamo Public Memory Project (sponsored by the Coalition of International Sites of Conscience), the Origami USA 2013 Annual Convention, an archaeological dig into subaltern group (field slaves) at James Madison’s Montpelier and excavations at sites in Egypt and Spain. In her archaeology projects, she has worked closely with local communities. Victoria’s detailed research and writing abilities will be a pivotal asset to the Anarchist Guide team. (BA Archaeology and Anthropology, Boston University; MA Art History with a concentration in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies, Rutgers Univeristy.) Resides in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
Gennifer Stanley. Gennifer is currently pursuing a Master’s in Museum Studies at New York University. Gennifer has a unique perspective on the Anarchist Guide project, having interned at the New York Community Trust (NYCT) during the application process and been involved in meetings between NYCT and HHT. Additionally, Gennifer possesses unique skills that will benefit the project. Her Master’s thesis explores how oral history can be used in African American museums to engage the community. She lived and worked in South Korea for one year, infusing her with a strong understanding of Korean culture and customs. (BA History, Indiana University.) Resides in Upper East Side, Manhattan.
Zoe Watnik. Zoe is passionate about community engagement with historic sites. Her recently completed Master’s thesis explores how US and international preservation policies have shaped the way authenticity is interpreted at reconstructed historic properties. Zoe worked as a curator on the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, a traveling public history exhibition connecting communities with the inaccessible detention facility. She has extensive museum and archaeological fieldwork experience, and has written several preservation-based walking tours of Manhattan. (BA Art History and Classics (Greek), Double Major with a certificate in Historic Preservation, Rutgers University; MA Cultural Heritage and Historic Preservation, Rutgers University) Resides in Yorkville, Manhattan.
Ran Yan. A native of China, Ran has first-hand experience in community-based historic preservation from her primary research culminating in her Master’s thesis: Preservation of Lilong Neighborhoods in Shanghai: Social Change and Spatial Rights. As a student at Cornell, Ran worked as a team member analyzing the Oneida Community Mansion Historic House in New York to suggest new financial management models and community-based programming, and as a co-coordinator at Lyndhurst Historic House Museum (Tarrytown, NY). Fluent in Mandarin and French. (BA Historic Preservation, Tonji University, Shanghai, China; MA Historic Preservation & Planning, Cornell University.) Resides in Elmhurst, Queens.
Advisory Team Members
Wanda Chin. Board Member, Historic House Trust of New York City. Wanda is currently the Chief Credit Officer of the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a nonprofit community development financial institution that provides capital for housing, charter schools, health centers, and healthy food markets that serve underserved communities. Prior to joining LIIF, Wanda spent three decades with JPMorgan Chase Bank, where she last served as a Senior Credit Executive with the bank’s Commercial Banking Real Estate Banking business. She began her career at the heritage Chemical Bank as a loan and grants officer in the Urban Affairs group. Wanda is a native New Yorker with a passion for the city’s diverse neighborhoods and their histories. Resides in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Joel Holub. Caretaker, Lewis H. Latimer House. Joel is a museum preparator and a multidisciplinary artist who has exhibited and performed at The Bushwick Starr, Go North Gallery, Spaces in Cleveland, White Columns, Art in General, and Bronx Longwood Gallery. In his role as caretaker at Latimer House, Joel liaises with visitors and community members. Resides in Flushing, Queens.
Lucy Kennedy. Directors’ Council Member, Historic House Trust of New York City. Lucy has extensive experience in marketing and product development, primarily for banks and insurance companies. She is a former resident of New York City currently living in Lenox, MA. She is very active in historic preservation in the Berkshires, working with Ventfort Hall, Museum of the Guilded Age, Arrowhead, Home of Herman Mellville, and the local Historical Society, Historical Commission and Historic District Commission. She is presently working on a project to preserve a historically significant cemetery in Lenox.
Ansel Lurio. Project Manager, the Jeanette and Paul Wagner Educational Program for Children with Disabilities, Historic House Trust of New York City. Ansel’s diverse background in museum studies and advocacy equip him for a leadership role in making Lewis H. Latimer House welcoming and accessible for people with disabilities. While working at the Disabilities Network of New York City, Ansel instigated and completed a handicap accessibility study of the subway system. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the Cooperstown Graduate Program.
Alfred Rankins. Board President, Lewis H. Latimer Fund, which operates the Lewis H. Latimer House Museum. Al has played a significant role in the operations of Lewis H. Latimer House for many years. He joined the Lewis H. Latimer Fund Board in 2003 and has served as Board President since 2004. He possesses a deep-rooted knowledge of Lewis Latimer and an institutional history of the site. A retired educator, Al taught at Public School 129 in College Point, Queens, for over thirty years.
Cordell Reaves. Cordell is a Historic Preservation Program Analyst with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. For the past 10 years, he has worked with historic sites across New York State to help them interpret and preserve their Underground Railroad history and increase their organizational capacity. Most recently, he has been working to increase tourism to New York using the story of the Underground Railroad.
Christopher Shyer. Directors’ Council Member, Historic House Trust of New York City. Chris is the Board mentor for Edward I. Koch Fellow Team Member Kash Patel as part of Columbia Business School’s Nonprofit Board Leadership Program. Chris is designer, president, entrepreneur and owner for Zyloware Eyewear, a 100-person design and manufacturer of eyewear based in Port Chester, New York, and Shenzhen, China. He has frequently loaned and donated objects from his personal decorative arts collection to museums. Chris serves on several Boards, including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Public Health Solutions.
Eric Washington. Directors’ Council Member, Historic House Trust of New York City. Eric is a local historian, photographer and writer. He won the 2010 MASterworks Award for his interpretive signage of West Harlem Piers Park, located in the historic neighborhood that is the subject of his book, Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem. His research, walking tours and iPhone application have contributed exponentially to the number of acknowledged notables buried in upper Manhattan’s Trinity Church Cemetery. As a tour guide, Eric has been highlighted at length in Phillip Lopate’s, Waterfront, and Jonathan R. Wynn’s, The Tour Guide.