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The Core Team

The Living New Deal is run by a core group of staff and volunteers across the country, in the Bay Area, New York, Portland, Boston, Washington DC and West Virginia. They manage our research and website, fundraising and planning, newsletter and social media, conferences and talks, outreach and education, network of National Associates, and more.

Living New Deal team, March 2019: Sheila Hembury, Harvey Smith, Bob Leighninger, Elliott Medrich, Richard A Walker, Barbara Bernstein, Gray Brechin, Glenna Anton, Dylan Nelson + Susan Ives, Lisa Thompson (in front) 

RICHARD WALKER, Director              
[email protected]

Richard A Walker is professor emeritus of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1975 to 2012.  He is co-author of The Capitalist Imperative (1989) and The New Social Economy (1992), and has written extensively on California, including The Conquest of Bread (2004), The Country in the City (2007), The Altas of California (2012), and Pictures of a Gone City (2018).  He also serves as Treasurer on the Living New Deal non-profit board of directors.

KEVIN BAKER, LND NYC Chapter Director
[email protected]

Kevin Baker is a historian, novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. He is currently at work on a political and cultural history of the United States between the world wars, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Baker is the author or co-author of five works of history and six novels, including the New York Times bestseller, Paradise Alley. Other work has included writing the story for the Ken Burns documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust. A contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, he has written for many major publications in the United States and Europe, and has appeared in numerous television productions and documentaries. His latest book, The New York Game: Baseball and the Rise of a New City, will be published by Knopf in March, 2024.

BARBARA BERNSTEIN, Public Art Specialist
[email protected]

Barbara is a graduate of the University of Chicago. She founded the New Deal Art Registry, a crowd-sourcing web site that has collected photos and data about thousands of New Deal murals and sculptures around the country.   She is thrilled that this great resource is finally being appreciated and protected. Before moving to California she uncovered much forgotten public art in Chicago and her award-winning short film Silver Lining (1978) helped revive interest in the Federal Art Project. She has been a software company executive and technical writer, and she was for many years a columnist for Software Magazine.

GRAY BRECHIN, Project Scholar
[email protected]

Gray Brechin is the founder of  the Living New Deal and former Vice-President of the National New Deal Preservation Association.  He is an historical geographer and author, who received a BA in History and Geography, an MA in Art History, and a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley.  Gray is author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (1999), considered a classic of urban studies. Gray regularly lectures around the country about the New Deal legacy. He is President of the Living New Deal non-profit board of directors.

DIEM DUONG, Research Assistant
[email protected]

Diem graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with an undergraduate degree in Psychobiology. After she graduated, she found herself working as an educator abroad in Japan and shortly after that as an outdoor educator in Yosemite National Park. Since then, she’s become an outdoor enthusiast that values facilitating human connections with the natural world. She is interested in documenting the legacy of the New Deal by researching outdoor and environmentally related sites.

KURT FEICHTMEIR, Development Director
[email protected]

Kurt was formerly Director of Extended Learning for the San Francisco Exploratorium. His work with the Exploratorium spanned more than three decades, during which time he led the museum’s publishing program and developed education programs for learners of all ages. A graduate of the University of California, Davis, Kurt has lived and worked in Colombia and has a background in international business.  He currently lives in Portland OR. Kurt manages our fundraising activities, including donor relations, foundation grants and financial records, as well as assisting with overall project management

DEBORAH GARDNER, NYC Chapter Working Group
[email protected]

Deborah Gardner, a founding member of the NYC chapter’s Working Group, grew up in a New Deal household in New York. Deborah studied American history and architectural history in graduate school, as well as learning from the great Margot Gayle, who spearheaded landmarking in Soho and taught her how to do a walking tour. Since then, she has served on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Preservation Committee of the Municipal Arts Society, and is a member of several local and national preservation groups. She has authored many articles and books, including a history of the Roosevelts in New York. Her present position is historian & curator at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter—Franklin and Eleanor’s home from 1908 to 1942.

[email protected]

Sophia Gimenez manages and produces content for our social media platforms including Twitter Instagram TikTok and Facebook. She served as a Web and New Media graduate intern at the Getty Research Institute where she promoted art and culture-related content on social media to wider audiences. Based in Los Angeles, she is an art history PhD Candidate at UCSB with a focus on 20th-century American art. 

JEFF GOLD, NYC Chapter Working Group
[email protected]

Jeff Gold, a key member of the New York City chapter’s Working Group, is an urbanist and editorial director. He chairs the Metro NY Health Care for All Campaign and is director of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility (www.irum.org). Gold also serves on the board of the National Jobs for All Network.

ELENA ION, Manager & Research Director
[email protected]

Elena completed her Ph.D. in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She has taught at UC Berkeley and the Boston Architectural College, and has worked as a practicing architect. Elena oversees public outreach and crowdsourcing, the content on the Living New Deal website, and the publication of New Deal sites to our database.

SUSAN IVES, Director of Communications
[email protected]

Susan produces our publications, webinars, exhibits, events and media outreach. She organized our flagship conference, “Women and the Spirit of the New Deal” UC Berkeley in 2018. She holds a BA in Journalism from University of Michigan and a Masters from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her consultancy, Susan Ives Communications, provides strategic communications to start ups, nonprofits, public agencies and philanthropies. Previously, Susan served as Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs for Trust for Public Land; Special Assistant to the Secretary of Environmental Affairs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Communications Director for Planned Parenthood and Media Officer at Sierra Club. 

EVAN KALISH, Researcher At Large & Quality Control
[email protected]

Evan is based in New York City, but heads out on the road at every opportunity. He has done extensive work documenting New Deal sites around the country and is personally responsible for thousands of entries to the Living New Deal database and map. He has visited more than 11,000 post offices across all 50 states, and his work and blog, Postlandia, have been featured by several major media outlets.  He is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, with degrees in Entrepreneurship and Urban Spatial Analytics. He is currently trying to monitor the U.S. Postal Service’s treatment of its vast wealth of New Deal murals.

NATALIE MCDONALD, Research Assistant

Natalie McDonald is pursuing her MA in History at California State University, Northridge, having graduated summa cum laude from Pomona College (Claremont, CA) in 2019. Natalie’s academic work focuses on migration, citizenship, empire and memory in the twentieth-century United States. A passionate educator, she volunteered as a citizenship instructor with the International Rescue Committee during the pandemic. Natalie looks forward to beginning doctoral studies within the next couple of years.

BRENT MCKEE, Project Historian
[email protected]

Brent was our first National Associate and has been a stalwart of the project ever since, contributing hugely to website content about New Deal programs, New Dealers and New Deal Washington DC. He has done extensive research in the National Archives that has contributed to hundreds of New Deal sites on our national map.  Brent has an MA in Public Policy from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and an MA in History from American University.  Prior to catching the New Deal bug, Brent managed a Maryland state program for inmates and served in Americorps.  He lives in West Virginia.

ELLIOTT MEDRICH, National Associates Coordinator
[email protected]

Elliott is an education researcher and policy analyst. He received his Ph.D. in planning, policy analysis and statistics from the University of California, Berkeley. He spent many years as administrative vice president at an education research firm writing policy briefs, foundation proposals, and budgets for federal and state government and non-profit grant makers.  His responsibilities also involved designing and implementing project management and performance-based reporting systems, and building multi-organization research partnerships. Elliott manages our large network of National Associates across the country.

MARY OKIN, Assistant Director
[email protected]

Mary Okin is Living New Deal’s enthusiastic Assistant Director! After a brief career in nonprofits, Mary pursued graduate study in art history. She received her MA in Art History and Visual Culture from San Jose State University and a PhD in the History of American art and architecture at UC Santa Barbara in 2022. While completing her PhD, Mary worked as a Lecturer in SJSU’s Humanities Department, where she taught courses in global and digital humanities. Her research interests include American painting from the colonial era to the present, the understudied lives of women artists, issues of canon formation, labor movement history, and the local. Her current research includes writing the first scholarly monograph on the American painter Wayne Thiebaud (1920-2021), and two digital humanities projects: “Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City’s Tenth Street Studio Building (1857-1956),” which concerns the economic and social history of the first building specifically designed to house practicing artists in the United States, and “March With Us! Lessons in Activism @ San Jose State,” an oral history project about Civil Rights era student organizing in the 1960s and 70s. Mary joined the Living New Deal team in February of 2023 and is leading the LND “Advocating for New Deal Art” initiative, which involves engaging in outreach, fostering collaboration, and assembling resources for studying, teaching, and engaging with the rich and complex legacy of New Deal art.

HARVEY SMITH, Project Advisor
[email protected]

Harvey is President of the National New Deal Preservation Association and an expert on New Deal art. In 2010 Harvey was co-curator of “The American Scene: New Deal Art, 1935-1943,” in Walnut Creek, California. He received a BA in English and an MA in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and he has worked as a union carpenter, public health worker, radio journalist, horse rancher, and public school teacher. He is the author of New Deal Berkeley (Arcadia Press, 2014) and Vice-President of the Living New Deal non-profit board of directors.

[email protected]

Lisa Thompson has worked as a graphic designer and web developer since the early days of the internet. She manages the Living New Deal website and is forever at work on improvements and updates to the ever-expanding database, map and website content, as well as managing our servers, apps and everything else that comes up. A playwright and author of short stories, essays and travelogues, Lisa is an alumna of the Department of English Literature at the University of California, Irvine. She is also a naturalist who lives in Sonoma County and swims and kayaks the waters of Tomales Bay.

LOU VENECH, NYC Chapter Working Group
[email protected]

Lou Venech is a retired manager of government relations and transportation planning at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he worked on infrastructure projects and mobility issues. He also served on the staff of the New York Mayor’s Office, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry/Partnership of NYC. He has a political science degree from Columbia College and taught courses as an adjunct faculty at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. His civic commitments have included the presidency of the Sunnyside Gardens Community Association, membership on regional food system advisory panels, and service on a NYC community planning board.

LND Team Oct 2018: Bob Leighninger, Dylan Nelson, Harvey Smith, Susan Ives, Lisa Thompson, Richard Walker, Brent McKee, Gray Brechin (Mr. Gimpy)


Former Team Members

SHAE COREY, Social Media
Shae Corey handles most of our social media, including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook. In 2021-22, she also assisted with outreach and distribution of our New Deal map and guide to Washington DC. Shae received a Masters in Public History from American University in 2022 and now works as Program Manager for the DC Preservation League

GLENNA ANTON, Research Assistant
Glenna holds a doctorate from the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley and works as the office manager in the Department of Nuclear Engineering on campus. She helped LND with a variety of tasks, including research, data entry, office work and events, from 2017 to 2020.

MARGARET “PEGGY” CRANE, Co-Founder, Director, and Working Group Member, NYC Chapter
Working closely with its co-founder, Grace (“Jinx”) Roosevelt, Peggy Crane was “chief cook and bottle washer” for the New York City chapter of the Living New Deal. With the help of Crane’s leadership, organizing, and strategic outreach efforts, the chapter grew significantly in terms of its programmatic offerings, donations, and membership.

JOHN ELRICK, Research Assistant
John got his Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2020. His dissertation concerns the history of postwar planning for the San Francisco region.  In 2020-22, he assisted Dr. Brechin with research on New Deal sites, especially parks and recreation, for the national database and map, while continuing to teach at Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

ERIN REDING, Project Manager, 2017-18
Erin is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley,  earning highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa and the Best Student in Geography.  She finished Berkeley Law School in 2007, first worked for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and then the County of Alameda as Deputy County Counsel.  She is now an attorney with Moscone, Emblidge & Otis in San Francisco.

GABE MILNER, Project Manager, 2014-17
Gabe holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked closely with the Regional Oral History office of the Bancroft Library. During the period he worked for the Living New Deal, Gabe was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Francisco, where he taught US history.  Gabe’s research centers on cultural memory in the late 19th and early 20th century United States.  He has moved to Los Angeles to teach AP US and African American History at the Episcopal School of Los Angeles, a diverse school drawing students from around greater L.A.

ALEX TARR, Project Manager 2013-14
Alex is a past project manager for the Living New Deal. He was a doctoral student in Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, at the time. He is now Associate Professor of Geography at Worcester State University in Massachusetts.  He studies the geography of cities, especially Los Angeles, and urban agriculture. He is both a New Deal devotee and an IT magician who kept our website functioning in the face of many challenges.  He is a member of the Living New Deal non-profit board of directors and previously served as its secretary.

RACHEL BRAHINSKY, Project Manager 2012-13
Rachel was our first Living New Deal project manager and left an indelible mark on the project.  She holds a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley and is presently Professor of Urban Affairs at the University of San Francisco.  Rachel was postdoctoral fellow in the Berkeley Geography Department in 2012-13 at the time she served as the Living New Deal’s project director.  She is a member of the Living New Deal non-profit board of directors and currently serves as Secretary.

SHAINA POTTS, Senior Research Assistant
Shaina was out primary RA and Gatekeeper from 2010 to 2013 and again in 2015-17. She was essential to building our archive and map in a critical period of growth, and again in building our pocket map of New Deal New York City.  As a doctoral student in Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, she studied the geography of finance, focusing on the intersection of finance, politics, and space. She completed her dissertation on international finance and the law in 2017 and moved on to the faculty at UCLA.

LINDSEY DILLON, Research Assistant
Lindsey is a former graduate student in the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley and now an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She was our first student Research Assistant, when the project was just getting off the ground, and was invaluable in those early years, 2007-10.

YING LEE, Political Advisor (Deceased 2022)
Ying taught in the Berkeley Unified School District and served on the Berkeley City Council in the 1970s. She joined Congressman Ronald Dellum’s staff in 1984 and later served as Legislative Director for Congresswoman Barbara Lee. After Ying retired in 2000, she worked in the anti-war movement, was a Trustee for the Berkeley Public Library, and was an active member of Grandmothers for Peace. Her oral history book makes fascinating reading: Ying Lee: From Shanghai to Berkeley, An Oral History (Berkeley Historical Society, 2012). Here is a fine remembrance of Ying’s many accomplishments in her long life.

DYLAN NELSON, Research Assistant
Dylan is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he studied history, ecology, and Native American Studies. His thesis was a cultural and environmental history of mining and anti-mining resistance at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana. He helped us with research on the CCC in the National Parks, using the NPS survey of historic buildings.

BEN HASS, Website Developer
Ben is a web developer and interactive media specialist. Prior to working as a technology consultant, Ben studied Art History and Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Ben vastly improved the design of the Living New Deal website and built the Google map and infrastructure we still use. He served as our webmaster from 2010-2013.

JOHN STEHLIN,  Submissions Gatekeeper 2015-16
John was our RA in charge of all submissions of site data and stories to the Living New Deal database and map, which includes background research and verification of information.  He was the main conduit from our Research Associates to the Berkeley Team and for contacts to [email protected].  He completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015.  His work concerns the role of the bicycle in the gentrification of American cities and he is a long-time bicycle activist. John is now on the faculty of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

GRETA MARCHESI,  Research Assistant
Greta was in charge of all submissions of site data and stories to the Living New Deal database and map in 2014 and 2015. Greta was a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. She studies how political visions have shaped scientific knowledge, including the influence of the New Deal on scientific experiments at the Soil Conservation Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

CHRIS CARLSSON, New Deal Film Archivist
Chris helped create our New Deal film archive in 2015.  He is a well known activist, writer and historian in San Francisco.  His books include Ten Years That Shook The City, Nowtopia and Critical Mass (the bicycle movement he helped to found in the early 1990s).  Chris overseas the wonderful history website on San Francisco called shapingsf.org and has worked closely with the Internet Archive.

Garrett is a GIS analyst with the casualty practice of Milliman, Inc. in San Francisco. Garrett is a trained cartographer with expertise in the creation and management of spatial data, spatial analysis, geocoding and python scripting. He received a B.A. in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009 and an M.S. in Geographic Information Science at San Francisco State University. He helped with our New Deal map of San Francisco in 2014-15.

Elizabeth Camacho, programmer at IRLE, University of California, Berkeley
Heather Hunsinger, former programmer at IRLE
Lisa Ericksen, our first project manager, formerly with the California Historical Society
Terry Diggs, Adjunct, Hastings School of Law
Tim Drescher, Professor Emeritus, San Francisco State University
Terry Huwe, Librarian, IRLE, UC Berkeley
Jane White, Berkeley

Front: Michel, Lisa, Annie, Barbara, Leslie, Harvey, Susan; Back: Dick, Garrett, Chris, Gray, Marty, Bob, Gabe

Bay Area New Deal Team, Spring 2015

Elrick, Potts, Ives, Walker, Brechin, Kinsey, Smith
LND Team, May 2012

LND Team, 2008

LND Team, 2008

Terra is a fourth year undergraduate student studying Geography, with a focus on food systems. She grew up in eastern North Carolina and is currently researching the role of New Deal programs in shaping this area of the country.

Claire is an undergraduate studying English, with a focus on American literature, and a double minor in Geography and Creative Writing. She co-runs and illustrates an online literary magazine, Oatmeal Magazine: A Literary Breakfast of Champions. She is currently doing research on the New Deal in South Carolina.

Tomoyo is majoring in Sociology, with a double minor in Demography and Music. She has performed on the Carillion in Sather Tower. And, thanks to growing up Sapporo, site of the 1972 Winter Olympics, she is also a black diamond skier. Currently, she is doing research on New Deal Art in New Mexico.

Burt was an Industrial Engineering and Operations Research Major major. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up in San Ramon, California. He did research on the effects of the New Deal on the state of Hawaii.

Elise was cognitive science major from the Bay Area and involved with the Asian American Association (AAA) and Cal Opportunity Scholars Association (COSA). She did research on the New Deal in Oregon.

Ian was a Cognitive Science major, with a concentration in Cognitive Psychology. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, but has family ties are to the Hudson Valley of New York. He researched the differential impact of New Deal programs across racial lines due to discriminatory institutions and legislation.

Read more about how these people contributed time and expertise to the Living New Deal on our project history page.

Living New Deal. Still Working.