Meet Our Board Members
Holly Boomer, Ph. D., has served on the Mari Sandoz Board of Directors from 1992-1999 and 2004-present. Holly is currently Humanities & Communications faculty at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota. In the recent past, she was the Vice President of Instruction at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, CO, and in that role was the ALO to the Higher Learning Commission, the regional accrediting body. She has served in the following positions: Dean of Academic Support Programs at Navarro College in Corsicana, TX; General Education Chair and System Director of the Center for Student Achievement at National American University, a proprietary institution, and began her tenure with NAU as the Academic Dean at the Rapid City, SD campus; Assistant Professor of Humanities and American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD; Communications Instructor at Oglala Lakota College for thirteen years during which she chaired the Humanities and Social Sciences Department for five years. Her research interests include: Retired minority veterans' access to mental health services; female veterans and the culture of fear. Her Specialties: Management and leadership experience in higher education administration and faculty professional development.
Dr. Leisl Carr-Childers is an assistant professor of history at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the American West, specifically the rural past and environment of the region’s landscapes. Her first book, The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015), won the Western Writers of America 2016 Spur Award for Contemporary Nonfiction. Her research has been featured on KNPR's State of Nevada, Oregon Public Radio's Bundyville Podcast, PBS Frontline, and in the High Country News. She has fostered several digital projects including the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project and works closely with CSU Extension to facilitate scientific and agricultural research through oral history. She also works as a co-editor for the Environment in Modern North America series at the University of Oklahoma Press and as a council member of the Public Lands History Center at CSU. She is an active member of the Western History Association, the American Society for Environmental History, and the National Council on Public History.
Christy Chamberlin has been involved with preserving the legacy of Mari Sandoz since she was a teenager. While she was attending Gordon, NE high school, three women created the Mari Sandoz Room above the Chamberlin Furniture Store. Those three women were Caroline Pifer, Mari Sandoz' sister, Sybil Malmberg Berndt and Christy's mother, LLoy Chamberlin. Their dedication to honoring an author helped Christy decide to pursue degrees in English and Journalism at the University of Nebraska. Following graduation Christy worked for a local newspaper and then did Public Relations for two hospitals. At the age of of 26 Christy turned to entrepreneurship and started several businesses, including six Daylight Donut shops. Her success in business led to an interest in investments, especially the stock market. She opened an office for Edward Jones Investments in Las Cruces, NM in 1987. For the next thirty years, she built her business as a Financial Advisor and became the number one producer for the firm in New Mexico. She attended the Managing Partner's Top Producer Conference ten years in a row and she served for six years on the Kitchen Cabinet of the firm's managing partner in St. Louis. Upon her retirement, Christy and her husband, Bob moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota, close to her home town. One of the first things she did in retirement was join the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Board. She is honored to carry on the work that her mother started fifty years ago. She serves on the Executive Committee as Chair of the Finance & Awards committee.
Dr. Matthew Evertson is a Professor of English in the Department of Justice Studies, Social Sciences and English at Chadron State College. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Arizona State University. He is currently teaching, researching and writing about the regional influences upon the literature of the Great Plains, as well as the Environmental Humanities. Among his academic interests are the role of liberal arts in higher education and interdisciplinary/integrative learning across the curriculum. His current writing projects include works of short and long fiction, and a book-length comparative study of Stephen Crane and Theodore Roosevelt tentatively titled Strenuous Lives: Stephen Crane, Theodore Roosevelt and the American 1890s.
Ron Hull has led a storied career with Nebraska Educational Television in Lincoln and with the national Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C. He was hired as its fourth employee by KUON TV, NETV's original station, in 1955. He became program manager at NETV, and played a central role in making it one of the nation's more successful ETV enterprises. In Nebraska, in literary terms, Hull is likely best best known for bringing an appreciation of the work of John Neihardt and Mari Sandoz to a much broader audience through interviews and programming on NETV in the 1960s. Hull also helped connect Neihardt and Dick Cavett for their famous 1971 interview. After a stint teaching international broadcasting on a Fulbright in Taipei, Taiwan, he has thereafter served as senior advisor to NET. Hull has also served with the U.S Foreign Service in Vietnam, and in his work with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, helped to create the programs "Anyone for Tennyson," "The American Experience," and "The Mark Twain Series." The long list of his awards below is inevitably incomplete. Hull's memoir, Backstage: Stories from My Life in Public Television, 2012 gives insight into his career and his encounters with Neihardt and Sandoz.
Born and raised in Chadron, Karen Kelley has been a fan of Mari Sandoz since she read her first Sandoz book, Winter Thunder. Karen graduated from Chadron State College with a B.S. in Art Education and then received an M.A in Librarianship from the University of Denver. Her professional career was spent in public libraries. Her last position before retiring was as Manager of Reference at the Central Denver Public Library.
Kurt E. Kinbacher is an Associate Professor of History at Chadron State College. He has served on the Board since 2013 and has chaired the Pilster Lecture and Sandoz Symposium Committee since 2016. He completed his PhD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2006. He is author of Urban Villages and Local Identities: Germans from Russia, Omaha Indians, and Vietnamese in Lincoln Nebraska; co-editor of Reconfigurations of Native North America; and author of several articles and book chapters that focus on identity construction, human migrations, and region.
Dan Kusek is a native if Alliance and is a retired engineer on the BNSF railway. He is a longtime fan of Mari Sandoz and her writing. Dan presently serves as the chairman of the Sandoz Center's center committee. He is also a member of the Finance and Awards Committee and is Vice President of the Society. With no full time director at the Center, Dan is also overseeing the Center and staff. He also checks the Sandoz gravesite north of Ellsworth for the Society.
Renee M. Laegreid is a Professor of History at the University of Wyoming who specializes in the US West. Her area of specialty is women and gender in the 20th century West with publications that include Riding Pretty: Rodeo Royalty in the American West and a co-edited volume of essays Women on the North American Plains (2012 Nebraska Book Award Winner). She is currently working on two book-length projects: a history of women on the Great Plains, and a comparative history of the idea of the cowboy between the US and Italy.
Dan McGlynn has served on the Sandoz Board since about 1990. He grew up with a love of the Old West, its history, its people, their triumphs and struggles. Dan's maternal great grandparents homesteaded near Verdigre, Nebraska during the time Old Jules was living there. Although Dan has a B.A. in English from the University of Nebraska Omaha, he's been an amateur historian for most of his life. Dan is also VP and Co-founder of Husker Fans Salute The Troops, a non-profit organization that honors veterans, troopers, wounded warriors and Gold Star Families. When he was younger, he toured with many recording artists when he was a professional musician in Los Angeles. And after his musical career, Dan worked for decades in sales and sales management in Omaha. For the past 16 years, Dan has written weekly columns for HuskerMax.com about the world of Husker football. Dan lives in Omaha with Linda, his bride of 49 years. They have two children and four grandchildren whom they spoil at every opportunity
Dr. Elaine Nelson is a U.S. historian specializing in the North American West. She is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kansas and Executive Director of the Western History Association. Her scholarship takes into consideration the complicated relationships that formed between the diverse people and places in the Intermountain West and Great Plains. Her work appears in the Great Plains Quarterly, South Dakota History, and three anthologies. Nelson’s first full-length monograph, titled “Dreams and Dust in the Black Hills: Tourism, Performance, and the American West in National Memory,” is under contract and forthcoming in 2022. A native South Dakotan, Nelson received her B.A.E. from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, M.A. in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Ph.D. in history from the University of New Mexico.
David Nesheim received his doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska -- Lincoln under the direction of John Wunder in 2009 and joined the faculty at Chadron State College in January 2012. His specialty is Environmental History with an emphasis on the Great Plains and Native Americans and he emphasizes plants and animals as important characters in our collective past. He has published articles in Environmental History and Great Plains Quarterly on buffalo husbandry in the twentieth century.
Brian Rockey was named Director of the Nebraska Lottery and Charitable Gaming Division in 2016. He has been associated with the Nebraska Lottery in one capacity or another since its founding in 1993. Prior to that, he worked for two Nebraska governors and a state senator. Rockey is a 1983 graduate of Creighton University and holds master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha. A native of Alliance, Nebraska, Rockey has been involved with the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society since the mid-1980’s. His favorite Sandoz book is Capital City.
Lynn Gottschalk Roper was born and raised in Rushville, NE where her parents published the Sheridan County Star. Lynn graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a political science, history and journalism major. Lynn joined Merrill Lynch in 1976 as a financial advisor when they opened the Lincoln office and also served as Resident Manager of the office for 26 years. She was recognized in her firm and industry for her career achievements and provided leadership on a national basis. Lynn retired in 2019 from her 42 year career with Merrill Lynch. Lynn was recognized by the University of Nebraska as it’s Distinguished Alumni in 2018 and selected to participate in its Masters program in 2019. Lynn’s commitment to community service includes serving in leadership roles on numerous boards including several statewide organizations. She has served as chair of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln Lancaster Commission on Women, UNL Journalism capital campaign. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Woods Charitable Fund and the University of Nebraska Foundation. She currently serves as president for the Center for People in Need, as board member of the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and board member and treasurer of the Nebraska Community Foundation. Lynn joined the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society Board in 1999, served as treasurer and has been President since 2006. She is a strong advocate of the Sandhills and the heritage of all who have been fortunate to visit and to live there.
Michael Smith of Lincoln served as Director/CEO of the Nebraska State Historical Society (now History Nebraska) from 2006 until his retirement in 2016. Smith’s 44-year career in history and museums included several executive leadership positions in midwestern and eastern institutions. Today, he lives with his wife Mary in Lincoln where he retains in interest in the humanities and public life.
Shannon D. Smith is Executive Director Emeritus of the Wyoming Humanities Council. Prior to that she was an Associate Director and Research Fellow at EDUCAUSE in Boulder, Colorado and taught history and humanities for seven years at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She is a historian and author of several works on women of the American West including Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight, a 2009 book award winner from the Wyoming State Historical Society. She has written several articles and book chapters featuring Mari Sandoz and aspires to write a biography of Mari's amazing life. Shannon was the Executive Secretary of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society from 1990-92 and has served on the board since then. She now lives in her hometown, Gordon, Nebraska, where she is working on several research and writing projects.
Heather Stauffer is an associate acquisitions editor at the University of Nebraska Press. She completed MA degrees in History and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with research focusing on the Great Plains. She co-authored Kearney: The Midway City with Mark Ellis (Arcadia, 2006) and (mostly) keeps up with her blog, Old Jokes Get Laughs (blogspot).
Chris Steinke’s work focuses on Plains Indian history in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is particularly interested in indigenous communication and transportation networks and how they linked Plains groups to one another and to colonial outposts. His current book manuscript, Rights of Passage: Indigenous Travelers on the Missouri River, reconstructs the history of indigenous mobility on the Missouri River, a vast transcontinental corridor of Native movement and travel. His research in Pawnee and Arikara history has appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly and Great Plains Quarterly.
Dr. Jillian L. Wenburg grew up northeast of Cheyenne Autumn’s setting, in Arapahoe, Nebraska. She obtained her BA and MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and was awarded her PhD in English with an interdisciplinary emphasis in history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2015. Her doctoral research combined close textual analyses of Sandoz works with detailed analyses of her trove of letters. Wenburg has discussed Sandoz at a number of conferences including the American Studies Association international conference, regional and national American Culture Association conferences, College English Association conferences, and Western Literature Association conferences. She has been published with her work on Sandoz as well as teaching writing and incorporating meditation. She has received numerous awards and grants in support of her Sandoz and teaching research. Wenburg resides in Kansas City, Missouri, and is employed as an Instructional Designer at Park University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the English department at Johnson County Community College. She serves as a board member for the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society and chair of the Sandoz Scholar Committee.
Jamison Wyatt lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he writes about the life of Mari Sandoz and her artistic and literary contemporaries. In 2014, Wyatt began a walking tour, “Stalking the Ghost of Mari Sandoz,” which explores the life of Sandoz while she lived in Lincoln from 1919 to 1940. Wyatt also has special interest in the Nebraska State Capitol. From 2008 to 2013, he conducted nearly 7,000 tour of the capitol and simultaneously worked in the Nebraska Capitol Collections archives. From 2013-2018, Wyatt served as an aide to the Nebraska Legislature and wrote legislation which elected Ponca Chief Standing Bear and Willa Cather to be the Nebraska representatives in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Wyatt is currently finishing his studies in history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.