Who We Are

National Office Staff
Board of Trustees
Advisory Council
NHD Honorary Cabinet
National Office Staff

Cathy Gorn, PhD
Executive Director

Dr. Cathy Gorn is executive director of National History Day.

Dr. Gorn joined National History Day in 1982 when the organization was still based in Cleveland, Ohio, and was in its infancy as a national endeavor. Dr. Gorn has held positions of increasing responsibility within the organization. As a member of a small core national office staff, her efforts have fundamentally shaped the evolution of National History Day from a series of contests to a full-fledged, highly acclaimed international academic program.

Dr. Gorn received her B.A. in English from Kent State University in 1982, and her Ph.D. in history from Case Western Reserve University 1992. She has made numerous presentations on history education at forums for historians and teachers, including the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. Her publications on teaching history to young people have appeared in several professional journals. In addition, Dr. Gorn has contributed to and served as editor for more than 40 curriculum guides and projects for National History Day.

Dr. Gorn has directed nearly three dozen national institutes for teachers of history and social studies, including institutes on: “Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom,” and “Global and Multi-Cultural Perspectives on the Columbian Voyage and Its Legacies.” Dr. Gorn currently serves on the White House Historical Association Board of Directors and the National Capital Radio & Television Museum Board of Trustees. She served two terms on the Education Advisory Committee for the First Freedom Center, the Education Committee of the American Bar Association and the Presidential Advisors for the National World War II Museum.

In 2011, National History Day received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.

Kim Fortney
Deputy Director

Kim Fortney is the deputy director of National History Day (NHD).

She joined NHD in August 2009 after 13 years with the Heritage Center of Lancaster County in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and 19 years as a member of the extended NHD family. As vice president of the Heritage Center of Lancaster County, Kim directed all aspects of educational programming for teachers, students and adults. In her position, she coordinated a thriving regional competition of National History Day and served on the advisory board for National History Day in Pennsylvania. However, her love for NHD began even earlier. While teaching in 1990, she coached students in the creation of NHD entries, and during graduate school in 1995, she judged at a regional competition.

Kim is deeply committed to history education and both formal and informal learning. She co-edited An Alliance of Spirit: Museum and School Partnerships, published by the American Alliance of Museums in 2010, and was president of the board of directors for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums from 2008-2010. Kim currently serves on the board of the American Association for State & Local History, where, as governance chair, she improved governance practices and spearheaded a comprehensive update of governing documents.

Kim has presented on numerous occasions at professional conferences, including the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, the American Federation of Teachers, the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies and, the Middle States Council for the Social Studies. Kim received her M.A. in History and Museum Studies from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), 1995, and her B.A. in History and Secondary Education from Westminster College (New Wilmington, PA), 1988. In 2013, she completed the Senior Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals at Columbia University.

Lynne O'Hara
Director of Programs

Ashley Dabbraccio
Programs Assistant

Rick Stoddard
Director of Communications

Lorena Torres
Finance Director

Alaina McNaughton
Contest Manager

Elaine Koontz
IT Manager

Erikka Washington
Office and Events Manager

Maury Izzett
Graduate Fellow
Board of Trustees

President - Celie Niehaus

Vice President - Jon Gillum
Locke Lorde LLP

Treasurer - James F. Harris
University of Maryland

Secretary - Noralee Frankel

Sarah Aschbrenner
Minnesota Historical Society

Kenneth Clarke

Thomas Downs, Esq.
Downs Government Affairs

Steven Goldberg
Lincoln Financial

Richard Kurin
Smithsonian Institution

Richard T. Prasse
Hahn, Loeser and Parks

Sherry Rollo
Hahn, Loeser and Parks

Dana Schaffer
American Historical Association

Kevin L. Shirley
LaGrange College

Lyric Winik

Advisory Council

Beth Boland

Michelle Anne Delaney
Smithsonian Institution

Noralee Frankel

Rich Gause
American Library Association

Julian Hipkins, III
Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School, Washington, DC

Kurt Koenigsberger
Case Western Reserve University

Grace Leatherman
National Council for History Education

Esther Mackintosh, PhD
Federation of State Humanities Councils

Elisabeth M. Marsh, PhD
Organization of American Historians

Erin Carlson Mast
President Lincoln’s Cottage

Lawrence Paska
National Council for the Social Studies

Lee Ann Potter
Library of Congress

Dana Schaffer
American Historical Association

Philip M. Soergel
University of Maryland

NHD Honorary Cabinet

Lonnie Bunch
Secretary, Smithsonian Institution

Ken Burns
Documentary Film Maker

Stockard Channing

Joseph Ellis
Professor, Mount Holyoke College

Paula Giddings
Professor, Smith College

Nancy Isenberg
Professor, Louisiana State University

Knight Kiplinger
Publisher, The Kiplinger Report

James McPherson
Emeritus Professor, Princeton University, Pulitzer Prize winner

Vicki Ruiz
Professor, University of California, Irvine

Mrinalini Sinha
Professor, University of Michigan

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Professor, Harvard University, Pulitzer Prize winner

Fareed Zakaria
Host, CNN


NHD has affiliates around the world. These programs are independently sponsored by organizations that coordinate local and state/affiliate level contests where students can compete for the chance to advance to the National Contest. NHD’s states/affiliates also provide programmatic materials and workshops for teachers and students.