Ray LaHood will serve as Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Directors. With a 36-year career in public service, former U..S Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood has extensive experience in policy areas such as transportation and infrastructure. LaHood oversaw 55,000 employees and a $7o billion budget in charge of air, maritime and surface transportation. Before serving as head of DOT, he represented the 18th District of Illinois in the United States House of Representatives for 19 years, where he served on the House Appropriations and House Intelligence Committees. In addition, LaHood served as Chief of Staff to the U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel for 12 years. In his community, LaHood served as the Director of Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau, Chief Planner of the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission and District Administrative Assistant for US Congressman Tom Railsback. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Joan Brodsky will serve as the Historic Preservation Expert on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Directors. Brodsky is a current member of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, Newberry Library in Chicago, the Board of Visitors of the Syracuse University Library and the Board of Overseers of the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. A lifelong librarian and conservator, she is the founder and sponsor of an annual endowed lecture series and workshop on book and paper conservation and a sponsor of the Brodsky Lecture Series in support of the JD – MBA Program at Northwestern University. She earned her Master of Science in Library Science and her Bachelor of Arts in Latin and Education from Syracuse University.
Kathryn Harris will serve as a Library and Museum Expert on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Directors. Harris brings 25 years of ALPLM experience as the former Library Services Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Illinois State Historical Library. In her 43 years of service, Harris has also been the Head of Reference for the Illinois State Library and Public Services Librarian for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. In addition, she has been a Librarian at Florida International University Library, Miami Florida and the Lincoln Library, Springfield’s public library. Harris has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society, was named a Rail-Splitter Honoree by the American Society of Public Service Administrators and won Woman of Excellence Award from the Springfield YWCA. Harris serves on the Springfield and Central Illinois African American Arts History Museum Board, Sangamon County Historical Society Board as President, and the Abraham Lincoln Association. She earned her Master of Science from the University of Illinois and her Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University.
Gary Johnson will serve on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Directors. Johnson became the President of the Chicago History Museum after 28 years as a lawyer and partner in international law at Mayer Brown and Jones Day. Under his leadership, the Chicago History Museum has received the National Medal from the Institute for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest award for museums and libraries. Johnson also served for 10 years as President of Museums in the Park. Additionally, he worked as Vice Chair on the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice in Cook County. Johnson is a member of the American Law Institute and a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Illinois State Bar Association Foundation, and he served as president of the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Johnson earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, his Master of Arts from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and his Bachelor of Arts from Yale College. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Lake Forest College.
Eunice Santos will serve on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Directors. Santos is a Professor and Dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, specializing in the areas of distributed processing, cybersecurity, complex adaptive systems and human modeling. She previously served as a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, Leigh University in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Virginia Tech in the Department of Computer Science and the Genetics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program. Santos was also the founding director of the Institute of Defense & Security and department chair of Computer Science at the University of Texas, El Paso. Santos has received numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, the Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Robinson Faculty Award. She earned her PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.
J. Steven Beckett will serve as the Abraham Lincoln Historian on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. Beckett is a frequent lecturer on the law practices of Abraham Lincoln and is a board member the Abraham Lincoln Association. He previously chaired the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Advisory Board from 2012 to 2015. Beckett is a Practitioner-in-Residence and the former director of Trial Advocacy at the College of Law, and counsel to the Urbana firm, Beckett & Webber, P.C. that he founded in 1988. In his time at Beckett & Webber, P.C., Beckett focused on litigation and appeals, appearing in Federal Courts across the Midwest and the Illinois Supreme Court twice. Beckett is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. He received awards from the Illinois Public Defenders Association and the Champaign County American Civil Liberties Union and served as president of the First Amendment Lawyers Association.
Jessica Harris will serve on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. Harris currently serves as the Interim Provost for Inclusive Academic Excellence at Southern Illinois University, where she formerly served as Director of the Black Studies Program and Provost Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion. She previously worked as an associate and assistant professor in SIU's Department of Historical Studies. She also worked with students as a lecturer at Cornell University and as an instructor at Ithaca College's Pre-Freshman Summer Program. Harris has earned awards such as the Dillard University 40 Under 40, the SIUE Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award and the SIUE Phenomenal Woman Award. She is a member of the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, Association for the Study of African American Life and History and Association of Black Women Historians. Harris earned both her PhD and Master of Arts in history from Cornell University and her Bachelor of Arts from Dillard University.
Jason Lesniewicz will serve as a Cultural Tourism Expert on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. Lesniewicz currently works as the Director of Cultural Tourism at Choose Chicago. In 13 years of work the in the cultural tourism industry, Lesniewicz has worked within Choose Chicago as the Cultural Tourism Manager for Neighborhoods and as Group Coordinator for the Chicago Neighborhood Tours Program. Previously, he served as a Senior Associate for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. Additionally, Lesniewicz serves on the Chicago Cultural Alliance Board as the Co-Chair of the Fundraising and Strategic Partnerships Committee. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dan Monroe will serve as the Illinois Historian on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. Currently, Monroe is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Millikin University. In addition, he has taught at universities across Illinois, such as Bradley University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 26 years of experience as a researcher, consultant and professor, Monroe has worked for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Illinois Historical Survey of UIUC and the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project. He is a member of the Southern Historical Association, Abraham Lincoln Association, Illinois State Historical Society and Hemingway Society. Monroe earned his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, his Master of Science from Illinois State University and his Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Martin Sandoval, C.P.A., will serve as a Business Administration Expert on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. With over 25 years of experience in business, strategic planning and financial management, Sandoval is the founding partner of Compass Associates. He previously was a Director of Corporate Development of Sara Lee Corporation and did similar work for organizations such as the McDonald's Corporation and Arthur Andersen. Sandoval is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society, and he has also served as Vice President for the National Museum of Mexican Art, Treasurer of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chair of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. Sandoval earned his Master of Science in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Commerce from DePaul University.
Melinda Spitzer-Johnston will serve as a Digitization, Conservation and Historic Preservation Expert on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Board of Trustees. Spitzer-Johnston is currently the Digital Media Assets Manager at Encyclopedia Britannica. She spent eight years prior at her namesake firm, Armstrong-Johnston LLC, where she served as a principal partner, archivist, historian and curator. She has also worked as the Curator of Visual and Digital Resources for the Harvard Law School Library's Historical and Special Collections Division, and in a variety of roles for the Chicago History Museum, including Research Coordinator, Project Archivist and Curator. In addition, she served on the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Trustees and as a member of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum study panel. Spitzer-Johnston received her Master of Arts in American History from DePaul University and her Bachelor of Arts in American History from Northwestern University. She became a certified archivist in 2018.