Speakers Bureau: Staff & Experts | Wisconsin Historical Society

Speakers Bureau: Wisconsin Historical Society Staff & Other Experts

The Wisconsin Historical Society Speakers Bureau offers an exciting opportunity for our historians, curators and authors to visit your community and share the stories of our great state.

WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY STAFF & OTHER EXPERTS

Wisconsin Historical Society staff are available to speak on a wide range of topics, and most are available for engagements at no charge. Society staff generally cannot travel more than one hour from their workplace without a contribution to cover costs. Outside experts negotiate their own fees for traveling and speaking.

To find a speaker, browse the listing of Wisconsin Historical Society staff and other experts below or use the search box at the top of this page: enter the word "speakers" and a topic such as sports or food or architecture (ex. "speakers Civil War"). Read the speaker's profile and when you've found someone you like, click "Request This Speaker" to tell us the date, time, and other details. We'll connect you with the speaker and help arrange what you need for a successful program. To view a listing of Wisconsin Historical Society Press authors available to speak, click here.

Please submit speaker requests at least 30 days prior to your desired program date. It typically takes about two weeks to process your request and confirm arrangements. Please note that speakers may be unable to accommodate some requests; in such cases, Speakers Bureau staff will recommend alternative speakers.

For questions about staff speakers and other experts, please contact speakersbureau@wisconsinhistory.org.


Photo of Liz Wabindato

Liz Arbuckle is an educational outreach specialist for the Wisconsin Historical Society, coordinating educational and outreach programs, including National History Day, for the northern part of the state. Liz is a member of the Bad River Chippewa in northern Wisconsin, where she currently resides. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. She is the founder and leader of Bad River's 4-H Club and Rezberries and serves on the Bad River Indian Education Committee and the Bad River Housing Authority. Her areas of expertise include Native American culture and history, ethnic group identity, and U.S. minority groups. Liz is based at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.  Request This Speaker


Felipe Avila

Felipe Avila is the GIS Coordinator for the Wisconsin Historical Society. He has a BA in Political Science and Anthropology from the Ohio State University and graduate certificate in GIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has given talks on practical applications of technology in archaeology, including LIDAR, aerial photography, and environmental monitoring, and using GIS technology for analysis in archaeology, stormwater management, crime analysis, emergency management, and business. Felipe is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Leslie Bellais

Leslie Bellais is the former curator of social history at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. She retired in January 2019. She gives a wide range of programs on the history of clothing, textiles, quilts, dolls, and toys, including "Flapper Fashion," "Rituals of Romance: A History of Courtship and Weddings,1830-1990," "Civil War Memories & Mementos," and "Over Here: The Wisconsin Homefront in World War I." More details on Leslie's presentations are here. Leslie is based in Madison. Note: A fee and mileage (outside of Dane County) will be charged.  Topic Area: Social History, War History (World War I)  Request This Speaker


Lori Bessler

Lori Bessler is the genealogy and local history specialist in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library, Archives and Museum Collections division. She presents a wide variety of talks and workshops for the general public, including "Genealogy: Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced," "Using Ancestry.com," "Using FamilySearch.org," "Online Research," "Where to Find Collections Anywhere and Everywhere," and "Immigration Research." Lori is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison. Note: Please request Lori for speaking engagements at least six months in advance. Lori is unable to travel for groups of less than 40 people.  Request This Speaker


Susan Caya-Slusser is the site director at Villa Louis historic site in Prairie du Chien.

Susan Caya-Slusser is the Wisconsin Historical Society's Director of Southwest Regional Sites, providing vision, leadership, and general management to First Capitol, Pendarvis, Stonefield, and Villa Louis. Her public talks include "Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen," "Growing Up Victorian," "Territories and Treaties," and "The Victorian Home." Susan is based at Pendarvis in Mineral Point.  Request This Speaker


Dave Desimone

Dave Desimone is director of Black Point Estate, the Wisconsin Historical Society's historic house museum in Lake Geneva. He talks not only about the history and management of Black Point but also a variety of related subjects. Dave is based at Black Point Estate in Lake Geneva.  Topics: "1871: Hinge Year of the Victorian Era," "1888 - The Year in Review: A Look at the Victorian Era," "The American Rural Cemetery Movement," "Posters and Propaganda," "Why Old Places Matter"  Request This Speaker


Driscoll-David

Dave Driscoll is Curator of Economic History at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. He gives presentations on subjects related to manufacturing, agriculture, and labor, as well as on collections care and using objects for teaching and in exhibitions. Dave is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker






Freas, Daniel

Dan Freas is director of Old World Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Historical Society's largest and most popular living history museum. He gives talks about Old World, the management of historic sites, and other topics related to public history. Dan is based at Old World Wisconsin in Eagle.  Request This Speaker


Funk, Tamara

Tamara Funk is a curator with the Wisconsin Historical Society. Her professional emphasis includes textiles and costume, reproduction costuming, interpreter training, and care of historic sites. Her presentations include Caring for your Heirloom Textiles at Home, Researching and Evaluating Reproduction Costuming, and Methods of Historic Housekeeping. Tamara is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Photo of Lee Grady in WHS stairwell

Lee Grady is a reference archivist at the Wisconsin Historical Society. He has spoken on a variety of topics related to the Historical Society's Library and Archives collections, including genealogy, local history, general archival research, maps, military records, state institutions (prisons, asylums, etc.), the Draper Collection, and the McCormick Collection. Lee is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Kurt Griesemer

Kurt Griesemer is the Wisconsin Historical Society's specialist in elementary education. He speaks to teachers about curriculum, the Society's textbook, and using "Hands-On History" to nurture critical thinking. This artifact-based program is also available to the general public. Kurt is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Hoelter-Emil

Emil Hoelter is an archivist in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library, Archives and Museum Collections division. He teaches a workshop called "Archives 101: Processing Archival Collections" and speaks about archival arrangement and description and conservation of historical documents. Emil is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Hollander, Michael

Mike Hollander is deputy director of the Wisconsin Historical Museum. He presents "Making History Come Alive," a general overview of the Museum for civic groups. Mike is based at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Huelsbeck, Mary

Mary Huelsbeck is Assistant Director of the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research. She gives presentations on the Center's vast collections and on costume designer Edith Head. Mary is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Jacobs, Sally

Sally Jacobs is the archivist for the McCormick/International Harvester papers in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library, Archives and Museum Collections division. She gives presentations about the collection, which you can learn about here. Sally is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Request This Speaker


Scott O'Donnell wearing Circus World shirt

Scott O'Donnell is Director of Circus World. Born in Canada, Scott searched for colorful moments in his life from an early age. Befriending clowns and circus performers who traveled through his area, Scott learned the delicate art of making people laugh. Scott owned and operated his own circus for eight years, appearing with it in Tim Burton's movie Big Fish. From the movies to Baraboo, Wisconsin, the home of the Ringling Bros., Scott performed and served as Operations Manager at Circus World Museum. After roles at Feld Entertainment, Ringling Bros., the Big Apple Circus, and Live Nation, Scott returned to Baraboo and Circus World as Executive Director, returning to a community he fell in love with years earlier. Scott is honored to be a part of live entertainment, recognizing the opportunities that exist between performers and the audience alike and making memories through artistic talents. His life's motto is, "The child in the audience was and still is me." Scotts presentations are titled, "Step Right Up and Join the Circus: Wisconsin's Circus Heritage" and "The Business of Show: A Discussion on Entertainment Business Practices." Scott is based in Baraboo. Scott is not available for any in person speaking engagements during Circus World Museum's summer season (June 18 – August 29th).  Request This Speaker


Penkiunas-Daina

Daina Penkiunas is the Wisconsin Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Officer. She gives a variety of presentations on architectural history. Daina is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Topic Area: Post-War American Architecture, National Register of Historic Places, Architectural Styles, Milwaukee Soldiers Home, Church Architecture, The University Hill Farms Development in Madison, The Planned Community of Greendale in Milwaukee County  Request This Speaker


Photograph of Fred Reed wearing a tuxedo

Fred Reed was a member of the Milwaukee NAACP Youth Council Commandos, leading the struggle for open housing legislation in 1967 to 1968, and served as a member of the March On Milwaukee 50th Anniversary Coordinating Committee. He was the recipient of the Milwaukee Times' 2017 Black Excellence Award and was honored by For My Brothers for his significant contributions to the Black community, and in 2017, he and his fellow NAACP Youth Council members received the Milwaukee ACLU's Lifetime Achievement Award. He brings to this role and to additional community service a lifelong history of work to make the world a better, more just, and safer place.  Topic Area: Civil Rights History  Request This Speaker


Michael Rehberg

Michael Rehberg is lead interpreter at Black Point Estate, the Wisconsin Historical Society's historic house museum in Lake Geneva. He gives presentations called "Beer Barons of Geneva Lake and Their Milwaukee Neighbors," "Pull up a Chair... Let's Take a Walk Through Lake Geneva," and "The Golden Era of Steam Yachting: Geneva Lake and its Sailors." Michael is based at Black Point Estate in Lake Geneva.  Request This Speaker


Photograph of Jason Tish, a white man wearing brown glasses and a blue and white checked shirt

Jason Tish has worked with historic preservation policies at the national, state, and local levels since 1996. He has worked in the public and private sectors as an archaeologist, architecture historian, historic preservation consultant, and executive director of an advocacy organization. He has extensive experience developing and administering local historic preservation policies and practices. He currently serves as the Certified Local Government and Preservation Education Coordinator at the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office, where he administers a grant program for Certified Local Governments in Wisconsin and advises Wisconsin municipalities on planning for cultural resources and leveraging them for economic and community development. Jason is based at the Society's headquarters in Madison.  Topic Area: Certified Local Government Program, Local Historic Preservation Advocacy, Local Historic Preservation Ordinances, National Register of Historic Places  Request This Speaker


Tamara Thomsen

Tamara Thomsen has worked as a maritime archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation and Archaeology program for the past thirteen years. Her research has resulted in the nomination of 41 Great Lakes shipwrecks to the National Register of Historic Places. For her dedicated work, she has received awards from the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society, and, in 2014, she was inducted into the Women Diver's Hall of Fame. Tamara has worked as a photographer, researcher, and research diver on projects including the USS Monitor with NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and RMS Titanic with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Tamara is based at the Atlas lab in Madison. Note: Tamara is not available for speaking engagements between May through September.  Topic Area: National Marine Sanctuary, Apostle Islands, Marine Archaeology, The Shipwreck Lakeland, The Rouse Simmons, Shipwrecks, Underwater Archaeology for Kids, Wisconsin Maritime History  Request This Speaker


Willaert,James P

James Willaert is a curator at Wade House, the Wisconsin Historical Society's living history museum in Greenbush (near Sheboygan). He gives talks about the history of transportation in Wisconsin. James is based at Wade House in Greenbush.  Request This Speaker


Caitlin Zant

Caitlin Zant is a maritime archaeologist in the Wisconsin Historical Society's Historic Preservation division. She gives presentations about shipwrecks and underwater archaeology. Caitlin is based at the Atlas Lab in Madison. Note: Caitlin is not available for speaking engagements between May through September.  Topic Area: National Marine Sanctuary, Apostle Islands, Marine Archaeology, The Shipwreck Lakeland, The Rouse Simmons, Wisconsin Maritime History  Request This Speaker