Dr. Edward L. Ayers
University Professor and President Emeritus
Edward Ayers is President Emeritus of the University of Richmond, where he now serves as Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities. Previously Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he began teaching in 1980, Ayers was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003.
A historian of the American South, Ayers has written and edited 10 books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2013.
A pioneer in digital history, Ayers created “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War,” a website that has attracted millions of users and won major prizes in the teaching of history. He serves as co-editor of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States at the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab and is a co-host of BackStory with the American History Guys, a nationally syndicated radio show and podcast.
Ayers has received a presidential appointment to the National Council on the Humanities, served as a Fulbright professor in the Netherlands and been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Maureen G. Elgersman Lee
Associate Professor/Chair, Political Science and History
Dr. Maureen Elgersman Lee is currently Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Department of Political Science and History at Hampton University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Redeemer University College, as well as a master’s degree in African and African American Studies and a doctorate in Humanities, with a concentration in African American Studies, both from Clark Atlanta University. She joined the Hampton University faculty in Fall 2013.
Dr. Elgersman Lee specializes in the history of Black women in Canada and the British Caribbean as well as in Black community history. She is the author of two books: Unyielding Spirits: Black Women and Slavery in Early Canada and Jamaica (Garland/Taylor and Francis), and Black Bangor: African Americans in a Maine Community, 1880-1950 (University Press of New England). She is the author of various articles, most notably “ ‘What They Lack in Numbers’: Locating Black Portland, 1870-1930” in Joseph A. Conforti, ed., Creating Portland: History and Place in Northern New England (University Press of New England) and “Slavery in Early Canada: Making Black Women Subject,” in Mona Gleason and Adele Perry, ed., Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, 5th ed. (Oxford University Press). For her work, Black Bangor, Dr. Elgersman Lee received the Leadership in History Award of Merit from the American Association for the Study of State and Local History (AASLH) and the “Best of the Best of the University Presses—Outstanding Title” Award from the American Library Association (ALA).
Dr. Elgersman Lee regularly teaches the African American history survey as well as various upper level topics courses in Africana and women’s history. She is currently working on a study of African Americans in Williamsburg, Virginia, after the Civil War.
Rex M. Ellis
Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Rex M. Ellis has served as the associate director for curatorial affairs at NMAAHC since 2008. He has the responsibility for planning, developing, directing and managing all curatorial, collections, education and outreach programs and activities.
Before joining NMAAHC, Ellis was vice president of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he oversaw all programs and operations. Ellis was the first African American vice president in the foundation’s history and served in that position for eight years (2001-2008).
He received his bachelor of fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master in Fine Arts from Wayne State University, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University and a doctor of education from the College of William and Mary. He has contributed articles to such publications as Journal of American History, Colonial Williamsburg Journal, August House Publications and History News. He is the author of two books, Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee, which chronicles the history of black banjo players from the time of slavery to the present.
Ellis is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Association of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, National Association of Black Storytellers and the National Storytelling Association. He has served as consultant to organizations such as the Midland Independent school district in Texas, Los Angeles County School District and the National Constitution Center. He has also worked with various institutions in many countries around the world such as Africa, New Zealand, France and Israel.
His presentations, lectures, workshops and consultancies focus on public programming, diversity interpretation and African American history and culture. His interests also include the spoken word and early American history, with special emphasis on slavery.
John J. Reynolds
John J. Reynolds served 39 years in the National Park Service, including time as Deputy Director: Regional Director, Director Denver Service Center, Superintendent North Cascades National Park, Assistant Superintendent Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and park planner/landscape architect. He currently serves as a board member of the Presidio Trust, the Student Conservation Association, Chesapeake Conservancy, Global Parks and Shenandoah National Park Trust. Mr. Reynolds is the Commonwealth of Virginia Citizen Representative to the Chesapeake Bay Commission, member of North Cascades Institute Advisory Council, Chair of the Flight 93 National Memorial Federal Advisory Commission and the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail Advisory Council. He is also a past board member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation, George Wright Society, Yosemite Fund, Yosemite National Institutes, Association of Partners for Public Lands and past US Delegate to the World Heritage Committee. He has received Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards from the Department of the Interior and the LaGasse Conservation Award and Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects. His college degrees include BSLA, Iowa State University and MLA, State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Reynolds also served in the New Jersey National Guard and United States Army Reserve 1966-1972.