About: Board of Directors

Board of Directors

The Disability History Museum is served by the same Board of Directors as the project's sponsor, Straight Ahead Pictures.

Laurie Block

Laurie Block is the co-founder of The Disability History Museum, a born-digital project. Block studies disability history to make sense of her experiences as a mother in the first generation of parents to know about their child’s lifelong disabilities through prenatal diagnosis. For 30 plus years, she has explored questions about how Americans have changed their thinking about what makes a body able or disabled, and with what consequences. She is most interested in how biological knowledge, cultural beliefs, social policy and everyday practices intersect with the experiences of people with disabilities. Connecting this heritage to the present, she believes, is a vital step in sustaining inclusion for all.

Richard Cairn

Richard Cairn has directed the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services since 2006. He played a key role in shaping the 2018 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework and is a recognized national leader in service-learning, civic engagement, performance assessment, environmental and history education. He has authored numerous books and multimedia, and has designed and led hundreds of teacher workshops. He is a lifelong social justice activist.

Beth Curley

Beth Curley was President and CEO of Nashville Public Television from 2005 through her retirement in 2017. During her 40-year career, she developed large, multiyear projects in documentaries, digital content, and community engagement, and was involved at the highest levels in distribution of major PBS productions, including Aging Matters: Living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Fred Pelka

Fred Pelka is a lifelong historian and activist for disability rights. He has written three books and numerous articles on disability history: What We Have Done: An Oral History Of The Disability Rights Movement, ABC Clio Companion To The Disability Rights Movement, and The Invalid Corps. Pelka became involved in disability rights activism in the early 1980s while working at the Boston Center for Independent Living and in 2004 was a Guggenheim Fellow. He is also a published poet.

John Sears

John F. Sears served as an Associate Editor of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at George Washington University and is the former Executive Director of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Hyde Park, NY. He helped to develop DHM’s products and relationships with educational organizations and funders. As a co-founder of The New Deal Network, he developed considerable experience with the management of digital educational resources. His most recent book is Refuge Must Be Given: Eleanor Roosevelt, The Jewish Plight, and the Founding of Israel.

The Disability History Museum is a major project of Straight Ahead Pictures, Inc. and this Board also serves that 501-c-3. Over the years, different projects that have fed the front and back end of this site have had their own set of humanities advisors.