Participant Bios

Participants in the 2014 Santa Fe Symposium

Brian CollierBrian Collier
is Coordinator of Faculty and a member of the faculty of Supervision and Instruction as well as a Fellow in the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. Collier teaches courses in American Indian History, History of Education, and Social Studies teaching methods. His work has him traveling around the country to work with students from the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) as they teach in under resourced schools while earning their M.Ed. from Notre Dame. Collier’s work is at the intersection of practice in the K-12 environment and new scholarship from the academy. Collier was the founding chair of the Committee on Teaching and Public Education for the Western History Association. His most recent scholarship is an edited collection that he wrote and published with undergraduate students at the University of Notre Dame. You may contact Brian at

 Cody CanningCody Canning was born and raised in the Verde Valley of central Arizona. For most of his childhood, he lived in a once-abandoned house in Clarkdale, Arizona, a town long emptied out after the boom days of copper mining. He spent his undergraduate and undergraduate years at Northern Arizona University completing a History degree in 2003, a Masters of Education in 2004, and Masters of Arts in Sustainable Communities in 2009. He began his teaching career at his old high school. Presently he works at Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff, AZ, where he teaches predominantly upper-level history courses. In his free time he enjoys mountain biking, cooking, and restoring his historic home.  Canning spends his summers working for Upward Bound at NAU, a program that serves first generation, economically disadvantaged students. In the spring, if he’s lucky, he participates in Grand Canyon Youth river trips. You may contact Cody at

David WilkinsDavid E. Wilkins holds the McKnight Presidential Professorship in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He has adjunct appointments in Political Science, Law, and American Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill in 1990. Professor Wilkins’ research and teaching interests include indigenous politics and governance, federal Indian policy and law, comparative politics, and diplomacy and constitutional development.His recent book publications include American Indian Politics and the American Political System, 3rd ed (co-authored with Heidi Stark) (2010), Documents of Native American Political Development: 1500s-1933 (2009), On the Drafting of Tribal Constitutions (by Felix Cohen) (2006), Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (co-edited with Richard Grounds and George Tinker) (2004), selected as an Outstanding Title by Choice Magazine. His current research interests focus on comparative indigenous constitutional development, a political biography of Vine Deloria, Jr., and a collection of writings by Hank Adams, a leading indigenous theoretician.You may contact David at


David Wrobel is Merrick Professor of Western American History at the University of Oklahoma. His research and teaching focus on the US and the West in the 19th and 20th centuries. His most recent book, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression (University of New Mexico Press, 2013), received the 2014 Western Heritage Award for Non-Fiction. He is a past president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. Most important, though, David is in his 14th year of collaborations with K-12 teachers and during that time has been a participant in more than 25 NEH and TAH grants. You may contact David at

Eric NewcombEric Newcombe was born and raised in Lake Arrowhead, CA. He attended Northern Arizona University and received a degree in Secondary History Education and a minor in Spanish. Newcombe began teaching at Williams High School (WHS) in 2013 where he taught U.S. History and World History. In Spring 2014, he worked on a cross-curricular research assignment with a WHS English teacher focusing on the Renaissance Era. He is also working on understanding and illuminating Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics, specifically looking at American reactions to this sports hero and what they say about the racial equality of sports during this time period in American History. Newcombe plans to create a set of lessons that he can take into American and World History. He is currently teaching at Rim of the World High School at Lake Arrowhead, California. You may contact Eric at

Gabe GomezGabe Gomez has taught 7th and 8th grade Social Studies in Flagstaff, AZ for fifteen years. This is his second year with the Teaching American History program. Through the training and development opportunities of NAHA TAH, Gomez learned how to utilize skills and resources to make history exciting for his students as well as meet district, state, and Common Core standards. By working side by side with historians and connecting with other history teachers at the National Council for Social Studies conference he has gained a renewed passion and process for teaching Social Studies. In the spring 2014 semester Gomez’s students will investigate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.  The students will examine primary and secondary sources to contextualize the World’s Fair with American Imperialism. You may contact Gabe at

James BrooksJames F. Brooks is an interdisciplinary scholar of the indigenous and colonial past. He has held professorial appointments at the University of Maryland, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Berkeley, as well as fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the School for Advanced Research. Between 2005 and 2013, he served as president of SAR. In 2014, he accepted a position as Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Western National Parks Association, which supports research, preservation and education in 66 National Parks, including Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Pecos National Monument. Brooks is the recipient of more than a dozen national awards for scholarly excellence. His book Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands focused on the traffic in women and children across the New Mexico as expressions of intercultural violence and accommodation. His book in progress, Mesa of Sorrows: Archaeology, Prophecy, and the Ghosts of Awat’ovi Pueblo seeks to understand a massacre that occurred among the Hopis in the year 1700. You may contact James at

Katherine Benton-CohenKatherine Benton-Cohen is an associate professor of history at Georgetown University.  She is a native of Arizona, a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and previously taught at Louisiana State University.  Benton-Cohen has received numerous research awards and scholarships from the Western History Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and elsewhere. She is the author of Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands (Harvard University Press, 2009), which uses Cochise County, Arizona, to examine the history of race in America.  She and her work have appeared in media outlets including PBS American Experience, the BBC, Dissent, the New Yorker,, and the Washington Post.  She is currently writing a book about the federal government and the invention of immigration as a crisis in the early twentieth century. You may contact Katherine at

Kathy ZimskiKathy Zimski is a teacher/coach for the NAHA TAH grant. She was born and raised in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and she attended Fontbonne College in St. Louis. She graduated with a B.A. in history and began her teaching career at a large suburban school of 4,000 students. In 1976 she moved to Arizona to pursue graduate studies in history and earned her Master’s in History with an emphasis upon Modern Europe, Women, and China. In 1978 she moved to Flagstaff and, following a variety of part time educational positions, including teaching for Yavapai Community College, returned full time to the high school classroom at Flagstaff High School from which she retired in 2009. Although she loved waking up each morning to the natural beauty of her log home in Hart Prairie and enjoying the daily rhythms of retirement, when she learned about the Teaching American history grant, she did not hesitate to become part of it. You may contact Kathy at

Kent BlansettKent Blansett is a descendant of five Tribes: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee, and Potawatomi. He is an Assistant Professor in History and Native American Studies at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Currently, he is the Katrin H. Lamon Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Blansett earned his Ph.D. in History with Distinction from the University of New Mexico and is a past recipient of the prestigious Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship. His latest manuscript is entitled A Journey to Freedom: The Life of Richard Oakes, 1942-1972. Once published, this will be the first biography of Akwesasne Mohawk leader and activist Richard Oakes who was instrumental in the Indians of All Tribes takeover of Alcatraz Island. Blansett’s research explores two key theoretical concepts within Red Power, the advent of what he terms as “Indian Cities” and Intertribalism. His research has appeared in several critical anthologies and academic journals. In 2011, the University of Nevada Press published his most recent work entitled “San Francisco, Red Power, and the Emergence of an Indian City,” in the anthology City Dreams, Country Schemes: Community and Identity in the American West. You may contact Kent at

Lee IrbyLee Irby is originally from the Midwest, but considers Flagstaff her home. In 2004, she completed her student teaching in Germany.  She graduated from NAU in 2004 and began her teaching career with Flagstaff Unified School District in 2005.  She has continued her education through NAU and received her Master’s degree in Elementary Education, K-12 Reading Endorsement, Middle School Endorsement, and an ESL Endorsement.  She is also appropriately certified to teach middle school math, social studies, and language arts.  Last year, she was awarded as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher.  She loves to go camping and spends many weekends outdoors! You may contact Lee at


Linda Sargent WoodLinda Sargent Wood is the project director for the NAHA TAH grant. She is an associate professor of History and Director of History Education at Northern Arizona University. Her book, A More Perfect Union: Holistic Worldviews and the Transformation of American Culture After World War II, was published by Oxford University Press in 2010 (paperback in 2012). Currently, she is writing a book on the growth of the disability rights movement in Montana. Her work on collaborative K-20 partnerships to improve the teaching and learning of history includes a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, “Nature, Culture, and History at the Grand Canyon,” Teaching American History grant programs, Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History seminars; Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources workshops, the Laurel Grove “Colored” School history project, a NEH “Schools for the New Millennium” project, and the Sandra Day O’Connor ICivics digital games and website. You may contact Linda at

Logan Brumm

Logan Brumm is a social studies teacher at Flagstaff High School in Flagstaff, Arizona.  He currently teaches American Government and Politics as well as United States History.  Logan is particularly passionate about studying the American Southwest and teaching his students about the unique environment and culture in which they live.  Allowing his students to act as historians by using primary sources, Logan has developed a lively environment of inquiry in his classroom and pushes his students to never stop questioning the world around them. You may contact Logan at


Mary JohnsonMary Johnson is the Teaching with Primary Sources Teachers Network Coordinator and a consultant to the Library of Congress.She coordinates the new Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) network and contributes to social media initiatives. Johnson is an author, blogger, avid Twitter user, former middle school librarian, American Memory Fellow, and all-around champion of teaching with primary sources. You may contact Mary at



Mary McCarthyMary McCarthy is a graduate student in the Sustainable Communities program at Northern Arizona University. She is working on completing her master’s thesis, tentatively titled, “Reading Arizona’s Verde Valley: Agri-ecology, Industry, Landscape Change, and Public History, 1864-2014.” McCarthy received her bachelor’s degree in history with a thematic minor in human-environment interactions from the University of Arizona. She currently works as an assistant with the Northern Arizona History Academy Teaching American History Grant.  You may contact Mary at


Mitch AskewMitch Askew teaches AP U.S. History and U.S. History at Flagstaff High School. He is in his sixth year of teaching. Mitch graduated from Idaho State University with bachelor’s degrees in Secondary Education and History. In 2012 he graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Master’s in History, which focused on U.S./borderlands history, colonialism and Latin American history. You may contact Mitch at



Molly GouldenMolly Goulden is a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher with the Alpine Leadership Academy (a magnet program in Flagstaff Unified School District). She transitioned from the outdoor classroom of environmental education into a social studies classroom over two years ago and has been very content with that decision. As a part of her place-based and experiential academy, Goulden has been able to lead students in phenology, Colorado Plateau geography, and even on river trips on the Colorado and San Juan Rivers. Currently, she is working on teaching modern United States history through the lens of civil unrest. Goulden has greatly benefited from the TAH cohort and is continually challenged to think and teach in different ways. She now strives to implement inquiry-based thinking into her curriculum. In her spare time, Goulden likes to explore the west (preferably by foot) with her pup, Shuksan. You may contact Molly at

Peggy O'Neill JonesPeggy O’Neill-Jones is a professor of journalism and technical communication at Metropolitan State University of Denver and the director of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program, Western Region, which serves 14 western states. She directs the TPS Teachers Network, a beta project designed to test the feasibility of using social media to connect teachers with the rich resources available at the Library of Congress. More than a social media user, Dr. Peggy O’Neill-Jones understands the impact of social and mobile media in communication and education contexts. Her doctorate in instructional technology gives her a strong theoretical foundation for using social media to promote and foster 21st century learning. Her professional background includes more than 17 years of writing, producing, and directing educational media for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and other organizations. She has received several professional awards for her work. You may contact Peggy at

Rachel St. JohnRachel St. John is a historian focusing on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century North America. Her first book, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, was published by Princeton University Press in 2011. She is currently at work on a new book, The Imagined States of America: Nation-building in Nineteenth-century North America, which explores the history of the diverse array of nation-building projects that rose and fell across North America in the century following U.S. independence. A native of the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California, Professor St. John received her BA and PhD from Stanford University. She is now Associate Professor of History at New York University where she teaches courses in 19th-century United States history, transnational borderlands history, environmental history, and the history of the U.S. West. You may contact Rachel at

Sara Stahl

Sara Stahl has been teaching in the classroom for ten years. Over the past decade, Stahl has worked with students with varying degrees of reading and writing skills, language and communication proficiency, cognitive ability, and physical capabilities. She currently teaches Advanced English to identified 7th and 8th graders and three 8th grade Regular English classes (two of the three are co-taught) at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.  Stahl received her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Management and a post-Bac teaching certificate in secondary English. She returned to for graduate-level classes and earned her Master’s degree in English in the Fall of 2010 from Northern Arizona University. For three years, she chaperoned a river trip for students for Grand Canyon Youth. Stahl is a district trainer in Differentiated Instruction and was also selected to participate in the last Keeping Score group funded by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. More recently, Stahl was selected to participate in the second cohort of the Northern Arizona History Academy Teaching American History (NAHA TAH). NAHA TAH has challenged her to rethink English curriculum from a historical perspective and she is currently modifying lessons to include the use of primary resources for expository text and incorporating historical investigation skills. You may contact Sara at

Shelly StearnsShelly Stearns teaches A.P. World History, Military History, Government, and Economics at Flagstaff High School. She has been in the classroom for 17 years, after gaining her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education with a History emphasis. She also has a Master’s in Bilingual Multi-cultural Education. Both degrees are from Northern Arizona University.  She loves to hike, especially if summiting mountains that are 14,000 feet or higher. Cooking is another favorite activity. You may contact Shelly at


Tahia FarooqueTahia Farooque is an Arizona native. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in International Studies where she wrote her thesis on the relationship between an increase of microcredit loans and a decrease in domestic violence in Bangladesh. Farooque later attended Northern Arizona University where she earned her Masters in teaching history at the secondary level. She is currently teaching special education World History, Government and Economics, as well as some math classes while working on her Masters in Special Education. Farooque anticipates being done with school in May! Her favorite part of her education right now is being a teacher-scholar in the Northern Arizona History Academy – Teachers of American History cohort. Through this cohort, Farooque is learning how to use more primary sources and historical investigations in the classroom while teaching her students the importance of making claims and supporting them with evidence from various sources. You may contact Tahia at

Taylor KendalTaylor Kendal is the Project Coordinator, Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Western Region in Denver, Colorado. He has participated in numerous TPS workshops and teacher scholar initiatives through the LOC. You may contact him at




Tim TomlinsonTim Tomlinson, originally from Mesa, AZ, teaches courses in American and World History at Flagstaff High School. He has also taught AP Human Geography. Previously he was a teacher at Dobson High School and Brimhall Junior High School in Mesa. Tim has chaired his department at Flagstaff High School for the past two years and enjoyed his experience as a teacher-scholar of the Northern Arizona History Academy Teaching American History cohort. Through this opportunity, he has worked to incorporate elements of cultural and comparative histories in his methods, through primary source analysis, to enrich the learning of his students. You may contact Tim at

Veronica VillegasVeronica Villegas is a 6th grade social studies teacher at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff, Arizona.  She has taught for 11 years in Tucson, Leupp, and Flagstaff and is a 2014 Rodel Exemplary Teacher. In addition to teaching, she is a content area assessment specialist for the Flagstaff Unified School District and a member of the Northern Arizona History Academy – Teaching American History cohort. She has a B.S. in Hotel Restaurant Management from Northern Arizona University and a Post-Baccalaureate Teaching Certificate from University of Phoenix with a Reading Specialist Endorsement. You may contact Veronica at

Whitney Biggerstaff

Whitney Biggerstaffwas born and raised in Eagle River, Alaska. She moved to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2006 to begin her college career in History in Secondary Education. After getting married in 2010 and having her first son in 2011 and second son in 2012, Whitney was able to finish her Bachelors degree December 2012. Currently, Whitney is a stay at home mom working as an assistant for the NAHA TAH Grant to stay involved in the teaching community. She is looking forward to working in the classroom someday. You may contact Whitney at