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Stephen A. Douglas Symposium

Presenter Biographies

Session 1: Little Spielbergs: Using Technology and Film in Middle and High School Classrooms

Sofia Georgelos is an eighth grade social studies teacher at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School, where she has taught for the past 15 years. Sofia is fortunate to teach in a school that offers a 1:1 technology initiative. She truly values the gift of education and is committed to ensuring that her students grow to be critical thinkers and confident young leaders. She uses historical content to develop skills and challenge students through practices such as cooperative learning and authentic assessments. In 2010-2011 she utilized her expertise to design two courses for Governor State University focusing on the middle school philosophy. Sofia has a passion for helping children both inside and outside her classroom.  As a Student Council sponsor, she hosts an annual Community Volleyball Tournament and a Make-A-Wish walkathon for children who are battling life-threatening conditions. In May of 2011, she was recognized for her efforts by the Make-A-Wish Foundation as the recipient of the Leaders in Joy Award.  Sofia holds a B.A. in science from Saint Xavier University, as well as a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University.

Brian Jurinek is currently an instructional technology coach at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. His passion for working with students and technology is evident through his work with teachers to improve instructional practices in the classroom. Prior to his role as an instructional coach, Brian taught eighth grade social studies for eight years. During his tenure as a teacher, Brian was a leader in the school-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program.  He regularly implemented technologies including SMART Technology and Google Apps for Education into his instruction.  As a coach, he supports classroom teachers as they implement technology in their classrooms. He regularly co-teaches lessons, collaborates with teachers in a one-on-one environment, and provides professional development opportunities for the staff.  He holds a B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University in political science, as well as a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from Saint Xavier University.

Robin O’Keeffe currently teaches English III and academic, honors, and AP U.S. history at Mother McAuley High School, and over the past 16 years has also taught American studies as well as senior electives such as American government and sociology. She received her B.S. in secondary education English and history, as well as her M.A. in English, from Idaho State University. Prior to settling in Chicago with her husband and three children, she taught English composition at various colleges and universities for ten years.

Rebecca Houston has taught social studies at Mother McAuley High School for sixteen years. Her courses have included world studies, as well as senior electives like sociology, women in history and cultural geography. She has taught advanced placement U.S. history for seven years. She received both her B.A. and M.A. in history from Loyola University Chicago, and has been the grateful recipient of two professional development grants from Mother McAuley, which facilitated a research trip to Peru as well as a two-week trip tracing a 600-mile portion of the Underground Railroad by bicycle.

Colleen M. Kilduff teaches social science, coordinates student activities, and coaches varsity softball at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School. She received her B.A. degree in history and secondary education from Saint Xavier University in 2007. She became a coach at Mother McAuley in 2007 and social science teacher in 2009. She now teaches world studies, world history honors, U.S. history honors, and American studies honors.

Session 2: Douglas' Legacy in Historical Context

Adam Smith is a senior lecturer in U.S. History at University College London (UCL). He holds an undergraduate degree from Oxford and a Ph.D. from Cambridge. His first book, No Party Now: Politics in the Civil War North, describes how the Republicans built a wartime political strategy by monopolizing the concept of loyalty and denouncing opposition as 'mere' partisanship. He has published articles about the image of Abraham Lincoln in nineteenth and early twentieth century British political culture, and last year he co-authored America Imagined, which explores the image of the United States in nineteenth-century Europe and Latin America. His current book manuscript is an examination of how Americans tried to maintain their sense of order and stability through the crises of war and reconstruction. Adam has become widely known in the UK as an expert on the United States. He regularly writes about American history for the Times Literary Supplement, BBC History Magazine and History Today, and also broadcasts regularly on the BBC. He has presented a three-part radio documentary series about the American Civil War, first aired in 2011, and repeated since, and is currently making a new radio documentary for BBC Radio 4. He draws on his background as an actor for his public presentations and BBC work, all of which served him well as a "talking head" on Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy.

Graham A. Peck is associate professor of History at Saint Xavier University. He received his B.A. in history from California State University, Hayward, and his Ph.D. in American history from Northwestern University.  He has published three articles on Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and his book manuscript, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Coming of the Civil War, is under contract with the University of Illinois Press. In the fall 2012 semester, with the object of creating a film for the Douglas tomb, he offered a course in historical documentary film making. Over the next 18 months, with the assistance of students, staff and other faculty at Saint Xavier, and dozens of individuals and institutions elsewhere, he produced and directed Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy.

Sherry Williams was born and raised on the south side of Chicago in Englewood. She is founder and president of the Bronzeville Historical Society and is active in many Chicago-area historical organizations. She serves as a board member for the Stephen A. Douglas Association. She recently renovated housing at the Stephen A. Douglas Tomb Site in order to create interpretive space for both the tomb and the Bronzeville Historical Society.  In 2010, Williams developed Chicago Freedom Tours in consultation with professional historians. Support for the project came from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Williams trained volunteers to provide portrayals at historic sites in Chicago where Civil War-era statesmen, ministers and abolitionists supported freedom seekers on the Underground Railroad.  The descendant of former slaves who lived in the Mississippi Delta, Williams is currently working on locating the descendants of slaves owned by Senator Stephen A. Douglas.

Session 3: The Great Patriot: Douglas and Lincoln after Sumter

 Tim Connors, director of theatre and speech at Freeport (Ill.) High School, has reenacted Stephen Douglas for over seven years and was pleased to be a part of the State of Illinois 2008 Sesquicentennial Celebration at the original seven debate sites. Tim also reenacts Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Franklin Roosevelt. Some of the sites at which Tim has presented memorable Douglas performances include the Old State Capitol in Springfield, including two performances for C-Span, the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the Civil War Roundtable in Cleveland, Ohio, and the U.S. Army and Heritage Museum in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Tim used his acting skills to interpret Douglas in Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy.

George Buss is a nationally renowned Lincoln interpreter. A 6th generation Illinoisian, he lives in Freeport, site of Lincoln's famous Freeport Question. George has interpreted Lincoln for over 20 years, often in concert with Douglas interpreters Rich Sokup and Tim Connors. He has appeared at hundreds of events throughout the country, including at Ford's Theater, Gettysburg and the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois. In 2008, he teamed with Tim Connors to bring Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas to life throughout the state for sesquicentennial celebrations of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and was also featured in the September issue of Smithsonian Magazine. George also owns what is probably the country's preeminent collection of Douglas artifacts, is President of the Stephen A. Douglas Society, and guest curator of the exhibit "Out from the Shadow of Lincoln: The Portraits of Stephen A. Douglas," which features selections from his collection and is currently touring the Midwest. George generously permitted Saint Xavier University students to photograph his collection for use in Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy, and also provided the voice-over interpretation for Lincoln and southern politician Robert Toombs in the film.

Session 4: Premiere of Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of Democracy

Robert May received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969 and has been on the faculty of the Department of History, Purdue University, ever since.  A scholar of U.S. sectionalism, diplomacy, and military affairs during the Mexican War-Civil War era, May has most recently authored Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America, and is one of the historians featured in the film Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy.  May’s prior books include Manifest Destinys Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum AmericaJohn A. Quitman: Old South Crusader; and The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861. Additionally he has coauthored with Jill P. May Howard Pyle: Imagining an American School of Art, and edited a work on Civil War diplomacy entitled The Union, the Confederacy, and the Atlantic Rim.  He has published articles on a wide range of topics, including the role of women in U.S. expansionism and diplomacy, blacks in the Mexican War, U.S. commercial expansionism, the U.S. art tariff, Abraham Lincoln, psychobiography and secession, and filibustering expeditions abroad.

Nathan Peck, associate professor of art and design at Saint Xavier University, is a digital artist who has maintained a relentless exhibition schedule in a wide range of art media after graduating from the inter-media program at the University of Iowa. He is an active member of many collaborative and performance art groups in Chicago and is a co-founder of the Chicago Art Department, a gallery and experimental art school.  His time-based art takes many forms, including music, video art, performance and installation. His work regularly takes inspiration from history. In 2002 he collaborated on Work Shift, a site-specific multimedia artwork at and about a former meat packing plant in Iowa. The former workers' repetitive actions in the factory became references for dance in the performance. In 2012, he curated a 200th birthday party art exhibition for Abraham Lincoln, complete with re-enactors and 200 portraits from all over the country. Nathan's most recent visual art project has been his work on Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy, for which he performed editing, graphic design and sound. His work on the film with his colleague Graham Peck is a prelude to their work together teaching documentary filmmaking in the fall 2014 semester, when they will collaborate with the Sisters of Mercy, Saint Xavier University's founding order, to create student films about the history of the order.

Daniel Andries is a producer at WTTW Channel 11, Chicago’s premier PBS station. He was the Series Producer of the multiple Emmy award-winning arts magazine program Artbeat Chicago for five years, and has produced, directed and written numerous award-winning documentaries on Chicago's history, communities, culture and arts.  His films include Beauty Rises: Four Lives in the ArtsIrish ChicagoDuSable to Obama:  Chicago’s Black Metropolis and Out & Proud in Chicago. Most recently he has been focused on making documentaries about architects and their work. He attended Deerfield High School, studied film production at Columbia College Chicago and graduated with a BFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1985. He taught film production, aesthetics, criticism and graduate level directing at Columbia Chicago Chicago in the 1990s.  He is married to filmmaker Anne Northrup and has three children.

Keynote Address: Making TV from History While Making History on TV

Daniel Andries is a producer at WTTW Channel 11, Chicago’s premier PBS station. He was the Series Producer of the multiple Emmy award-winning arts magazine program Artbeat Chicago for five years, and has produced, directed and written numerous award-winning documentaries on Chicago's history, communities, culture and arts.  His films include Beauty Rises: Four Lives in the ArtsIrish ChicagoDuSable to Obama:  Chicago’s Black Metropolis and Out & Proud in Chicago. Most recently he has been focused on making documentaries about architects and their work. He attended Deerfield High School, studied film production at Columbia College Chicago and graduated with a BFA from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1985. He taught film production, aesthetics, criticism and graduate level directing at Columbia Chicago Chicago in the 1990s.  He is married to filmmaker Anne Northrup and has three children.