Mount Vernon's 18th-century experts are available for speaking engagements, press, and media interviews.

Our team is available to speak on George Washington, the presidency, the American Revolution, slavery in the 18th century as well as a host of additional topics.

Request a Speaker

Available Speakers

Dr. Douglas Bradburn

Dr. Douglas Bradburn

President and CEO

Dr. Bradburn is an award-winning author and a well-known scholar of early American history. He is the author and editor of three books and numerous articles and book chapters with a specialty in the history of the American Founding, leadership, and the history of American Citizenship.  Bradburn earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago and his B.A. in history and economics from the University of Virginia.

Expertise: George Washington, The Constitution, Systems of Government, Constitutional Theory

Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer

Dr. Susan P. Schoelwer

Executive Director, Historic Preservation and Collections and Robert H. Smith Senior Curator 

Dr. Schoelwer directs Mount Vernon’s curatorial, architecture, archaeology, viewshed, horticulture, and livestock teams. She has led numerous exhibitions and Mansion room restorations and edited publications on Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s World and The General in the Garden: George Washington’s Landscape at Mount Vernon. She holds a PhD in American Studies from Yale University, MA from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture, and BA in History from the University of Notre Dame. 

Expertise: George Washington portraiture, Martha Washington, Mansion room renovations and furnishings, Lives Bound Together exhibition, history of Mount Vernon, history of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, 18th and early 19th-century needlework, tavern signs.  

Dr. Kevin Butterfield

Dr. Kevin Butterfield

Executive Director, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

Dr. Butterfield is a historian of the post-Revolutionary history of the United States. Dr. Butterfield previously held a tenured appointment as Associate Professor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma, where he taught early American history for eight years and directed a program for the study of the U.S. Constitution. He is the author of The Making of Tocqueville’s America: Law and Association in the Early United States. He received his B.A. in History from the University of Missouri, his M.A. in History from the College of William and Mary, and his Ph.D. in History from Washington University.

Expertise: The Founding Era, Legal, Political, and Constitutional History

K. Allison Wickens

K. Allison Wickens

Vice President for Education

Allison Wickens leads the Education and Guest Services division at Mount Vernon and oversees the history and civics learning goals for the institution’s onsite, offsite, and digital outreach programs. She writes and speaks about the education and learning of young people at museums, historic sites, and schools and has written on this subject in articles published in the Journal of Museum Education. She received an M.A. in History and a certificate in Museum Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder and a B.A. in history from Grinnell College.

Expertise: Museum Education, K12 Learning in Museums, Relationship of History and Civics to Museums, Teaching Slavery in K12 Classrooms

Dr. Dana John Stefanelli

Dr. Dana John Stefanelli

Curator of Special Collections, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

Dr. Stefanelli is an experienced writer, editor, and college teacher. He has worked as an editor of George Washington’s presidential and Revolutionary War papers. Dr. Stefanelli’s publications include articles on the history of Washington, D.C., and book chapters on American political and economic history. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in history and political science from Florida State University. Prior to joining the historical profession, he served as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill.

Expertise: General, books and manuscripts, Washington, D.C. history, American political economy and business history, Congress & the Presidency

Thomas A. Reinhart

Thomas A. Reinhart

Director of Preservation

Tom leads the ongoing effort to research, restore, and interpret the architectural and landscape legacy of America’s first President. He has spent his career studying architecture, archaeology, and social history of the Chesapeake region and the British Atlantic world. At Mount Vernon, he led the architectural restorations of the neoclassical New Room, the iconic cupola, the ground-breaking restoration of the 1760s front parlor, and the ongoing preservation of over a dozen original structures. He is an editor and author of Stewards of Memory: The Past Present, and Future of Historic Preservation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in Virginia, Greece, and Israel. He holds a BA from The College of William and Mary, MA in Classical Archaeology from Florida State University, MA in architectural history/ historic preservation from The George Washington University.

Expertise: Mount Vernon’s architecture and its free and enslaved creators, transmission of architectural ideas through the British Atlantic world in the 18thcentury, the architectural legacy of George Washington, American architecture of the Colonial and early Federal periods, and the development of architectural technology.

Dr. Joseph Stoltz III

Dr. Joseph Stoltz III

Director of Leadership Programs

Dr. Stoltz is the author and editor of multiple books on the history of the United States military, including The West Point History of Warfare series and "A Bloodless Victory": The Battle of New Orleans in History and Memory. Stoltz earned his Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian University and his B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of New Orleans.

Expertise: Early U.S. Military History, 18th Century French Military History, Military Leadership and Strategy, Memorialization and Commemoration

Dr. James P. Ambuske

Digital Historian

Dr. Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library.  He is a historian of Early America, Scotland, and the Atlantic World. Ambuske’s research explores the relationship between North America and Scotland in the era of the American Revolution and Early Republic. The author or co-author of several articles and book chapters on Early American and digital history, Ambuske also co-directs digital initiatives in collaboration with colleagues in the United States and the United Kingdom. Ambuske earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia and his B.A. in History and Political Science from Miami University.

Expertise: American Revolution, Emigration, American Loyalists, Transatlantic Law, Digital History

Mary V. Thompson

Mary V. Thompson

Research Historian

Ms. Thompson is a long-time member of the Mount Vernon staff, where she has served in the Interpretation, Curatorial, and Library departments.  She is the author of three books, including the 2019 definitive work on slavery at Mount Vernon, and has contributed chapters to over fifteen books, in addition to writing numerous articles, blogposts, and encyclopedia entries.  Ms. Thompson earned an M.A. in History from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in History, with a minor in Folklore, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

ExpertiseGeorge and Martha Washington and their extended families; slavery; religion; foodways and hospitality; illness, death, and mourning; domestic animals and livestock; Native Americans; Mount Vernon in time of war (18th to 20th centuries) 

Dean Norton

Dean Norton

Director of Horticulture

Dean began working at Mount Vernon on June 23, 1969 and never left. After receiving a degree in horticulture from Clemson University, he began his horticultural career as the estate's boxwood gardener in 1977. He was promoted to horticulturist in 1980 and is responsible for applying the latest plant science and management techniques of horticulture in a historic setting. For the past 35 years, Dean has devoted considerable time researching 18th-century gardens and gardening practices and contributed to several on-site garden restoration. Dean has served on several Historic Properties Boards including the Historic Properties Committee of Clemson University. He has received awards for conservation from the DAR and the Garden Club of America, as well as receiving the Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor National Medal (2020) given for exemplary service and creative vision. He is a recipient of the American Horticultural Societies Professional Award, is past president of the Southern Garden History Society, and is an honorary member of the Garden Club of Virginia. He is an accomplished, compelling speaker that entertains while informing and has traveled across the country and internationally presenting to garden clubs and professional organizations.

Expertise: Landscape design, 18th-century farming, 18th-century greenhouses, historic gardens, historic trees

Steven T. Bashore

Steven T. Bashore

Director of Historic Trades

Steve Bashore oversees the interpretation, operations, and maintenance of George Washington's Distillery and Gristmill, as well as the Pioneer Farm and Blacksmith Shop. He is a traditional miller and distiller by trade and has been operating, interpreting, and repairing historic watermills for 27 years. Since 2007, he has been distilling at George Washington's reconstructed distillery producing rye whiskey, bourbon, single malt whiskey, rum as well as peach and apple brandy. He has been a spirits judge for the American Craft Spirits Association, and for World of Whiskies.

Expertise: ​Traditional Milling, Gristmills both Water and Windmills, Flour Production and Export in the 18th Century, ​George Washington as an Entrepreneur and Innovative Farmer, George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill including its Operation and Reconstruction, 18th and 19th Century Distilling, Whiskey, Brandy and Other Spirits, 18th-Century Farming, 18th and 19th Century Economic History, Washington's Farming and Business Endeavors 1750s - 1799

Brenda Parker

Brenda Parker

African American Interpretation Coordinator and Character Interpreter

Brenda Parker is an actor and performer who uses customs, language, and stories to bring the lives of lesser noticed individuals to the forefront of her historic interpretation. Her work can be seen in programs at Mount Vernon such as Mate Masie and Freedom Skies: A Juneteenth Celebration.

Expertise: African American Interpretation, Character/Costumed Interpretation of Caroline Branham (an enslaved housemaid at Mount Vernon), Character/Costumed Interpretation of Priscilla (an enslaved field laborer at Mount Vernon)

Sean E. Devlin

Curator of Archaeological Collections, Department of Preservation

Sean is an archaeologist with over 15 years’ experience. He oversees the research and documentation of the archaeological collections at Mount Vernon. His research interests center on the origins and legacies of the plantation system within the British colonial world. He has conducted work at numerous sites in Virginia, as well as, in the nations of Barbados and Jamaica. He holds a BA in History from Washington and Lee University, MA in Anthropology from The College of William and Mary, and is completing his Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

Expertise: Archaeological collections at Mount Vernon; Plantation landscapes and slavery; American Mid-Atlantic and Caribbean material culture; Archaeology method and theory.

Jeremy Ray

Jeremy Ray

Director of History Interpretation

Jeremy Ray directs Mount Vernon’s front line interpretation staff in the Mansion and on the grounds of Mount Vernon. He has served in nearly every front line position at Mount Vernon in his decade-plus of employment, including front line interpretation, training, supervising, administration, and management. Jeremy is a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Expertise: The Evolution of History Interpretation at Mount Vernon, George Washington

Rebecca Baird

Rebecca Baird

Archivist

Ms. Baird has worked as the archivist for Mount Vernon and the Washington Library for five years. She is responsible for acquiring, organizing, and providing access to the institutional records of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Ms. Baird became a Certified Archivist (CA) in 2012 and a Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) through the Society of American Archivists in 2014. She received a master’s of library science degree (MLS) from Emporia State University and a BA in history and French from Texas Tech University. Before joining the staff at Mount Vernon, Ms. Baird was an archivist for another historic women’s organization, the Daughters of the American Revolution, for 8 years. 

Expertise: The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association

Samantha Snyder

Samantha Snyder

Reference Librarian

Ms. Snyder has written and spoken extensively on topics in early American history, with a specialty in Early American women’s history. She is currently working on a biography of Elizabeth Willing Powel. She earned her Master’s of Library and Information Studies, and B.A. in English literature from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and is currently pursuing graduate studies in history at George Mason University.

Expertise: Early American women’s history, Elizabeth Willing Powel, history of Mount Vernon

Thomas Plott

Thomas Plott

Manager of Character Interpretation

Tom Plott serves as Mount Vernon’s Manager of Character Interpretation and brings over 30 years of professional acting and directing experience to Mount Vernon. Tom has made a career of portraying historical characters; from Shakespeare to Da Vinci to John Wilkes Booth. He now uses his versatility and skills as a researcher to depict George Washington’s personal physician Doctor James Craik, the first Physician General of the United States.

Expertise: Character/Costumed Interpretation of Dr. James Craik (Washington’s friend and physician), Character/Costumed Interpretation of James Anderson (Washington’s farm and distillery manager)

Elizabeth Keaney

Elizabeth Keaney

Character Interpreter

Elizabeth Keaney has been a museum educator for more than twenty years and was hand-picked by the incomparable Mary Wiseman (Mount Vernon’s Lady Washington) to follow in her footsteps. Ms. Keaney holds an M.A. in Museum Education from The George Washington University and has taught history, art, and science in museums from Alaska to Washington, D. C. She uses theatrical technique and storytelling to share the life of George Washington’s “worthy partner” to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. 

Expertise: Character/Costumed Interpretation of Martha Washington

Sam Murphy

Sam Murphy

Manager of Historic Trades

Sam Murphy came to Mount Vernon with extensive culinary experience as the chef/owner of an award-winning 18th-century inn in South Carolina. He has extensively researched historic foodways and has been involved in the development of Mount Vernon’s chocolate-making demonstrations. He is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and currently pursuing an M.B.A. at Marymount University.

Expertise: George Washington and Agriculture; 18th-Century Foodways (including hearth cooking techniques); 18th-Century Food Preservation Techniques; George Washington the Entrepreneur, Inventor, and Farmer; Slavery at Mount Vernon; 18th-Century Distilling; Washington’s Fisheries; Ice cream and Chocolate in the 18th Century

Dr. Sara Marie Massee

Historic Trades Interpreter

Dr. Massee has fifteen years of experience in the field of living history, thirteen of them at George Washington's Mount Vernon. She oversees Mount Vernon's cooking, baking, and textile demonstrations, using a combination of research and hands-on experience to illuminate daily life in the 18th century. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from George Mason University.

Expertise: Textile Production at Mount Vernon, Historic Cooking Techniques and Food Traditions, Foodways of the Enslaved

Kathrin Breitt Brown

Lead Historic Trades Interpreter

coming soon

Login
Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Support Membership
Estate Hours

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save