Project Leaders

Adam Goodheart, Starr Center Director

Director of the Starr Center For the Study of the American Experience at Washington College since 2006, Adam Goodheart is also an historian, journalist, critic and the author of The New York Times bestselling book 1861: The Civil War Awakening, published by Alfred A. Knopf in April 2011 to widespread critical acclaim.

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Under his leadership, the Starr Center has focused on exploring new approaches to America’s past and present, on fostering the art of historical writing, and on opening doorways to on- and off-campus opportunities for Washington College students. The Center is interdisciplinary and works with faculty and students in a broad range of academic departments. He has directed the StoryQuest Oral History Program for the past five years, the last three of which focused on National Home Front Project interviewees sharing their experiences both on the home front and on the battlefront.

During Goodheart’s tenure, the Starr Center was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the largest federal grant in Washington College’s history. He forged partnerships with the Smithsonian on the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series and with the New York Times on the “Historically Corrected” series of columns, created in collaboration with Washington College students. New annual writing fellowships bring nationally distinguished authors to live in Chestertown and teach at the College. Starr Center student fellowships at leading museums, libraries, and cultural institutions – across the U.S. and overseas – award fully paid summer positions to outstanding Washington College undergraduates in many different fields.

A 1992 graduate of Harvard, he was a founder and senior editor of Civilization, the magazine of the Library of Congress, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in its first year of publication. He has contributed frequent essays and reviews to the New York Times (where he also served as deputy editor of the Op-Ed page), National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, the American Scholar, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He is a regular writer for the New York Times’ acclaimed online Civil War series, “Disunion.” His broadcast appearances include CNN, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio (“Fresh Air,” “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered”). Goodheart is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians and an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society. He was elected this year to the Society of American Historians which honors leading members of the profession “based on their demonstrated commitment to literary distinction in the writing and presentation of history and biography.”

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Patrick Nugent, Starr Center Deputy Director

Deputy Director of the Starr Center, Patrick Nugent is also a writer, educator, historical tour guide, and Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies. His research and teaching efforts investigate the intersections between place, race, and environment. At Washington College, he teaches environmental and cultural studies in addition to spearheading public history projects focused on the history of the Chesapeake Bay.

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His dissertation, “The Urban Environmental Order: Planning and Politics in New York City’s ‘Last Frontier,’” traces the interconnected histories of civil rights and modern environmentalism on Staten Island. A series of his essays exploring the borough’s mid-century history was featured on AHA Today and awarded the American Historical Association’s Annual Blog Prize. His article, “From the Richmond Parkway to the Staten Island Greenbelt: The Rise of Ecological Zoning in New York City,” will soon appear in Journal of Planning History.

Over the past ten years, Nugent has taught and designed courses for the English Department at Brooklyn College and the Department of American Studies at George Washington University. Courses include “Ecology in American Literature and Politics,” “Ethnicity and Identity in New York City Literature,” “American Architecture, 1860-Present,” and “America in the 1960s.” For a number of these courses, he has guided students on historical tours designed to illuminate class concepts through local explorations. Such tours have included “Landscape, Monuments, and Memory on the National Mall,” “African-American Migrations in the Nation’s Capital,” and “Ecological Landscapes in the Big Apple.” He welcomes students, citizens, staff, and faculty alike to join him in similar explorations of Chestertown and the surrounding Eastern Shore. Give him a ring or email at the Custom House and he will be happy to arrange a tour – whether by bike, kayak, or foot.

Lani Hall Seikaly, Local Project Leader

An active leader in the Chestertown community, Seikaly led the creation of RiverArts Community Arts Center in 2012 and currently serves on the board as immediate past president.  She chairs the Greater Chestertown Initiative and in that position has partnered with the town of Chestertown to win an NEA Our Town public arts planning grant and to win state designation for Chestertown as an Arts & Entertainment District. 

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Seikaly first became involved with the Starr Center when she curated four oral history exhibitions at RiverArts featuring the StoryQuest Civil Rights and World War II interviews by Washington College students. Passionate about collecting stories, she interviewed fifteen African Americans who grew up in Kent County during the Jim Crow era. She subsequently taught an anthropology course for the college and became an instructor with the StoryQuest WWII program for the past several years.

A long time educator, Lani Seikaly has taught secondary students, teachers and administrators; served as a middle school principal; and coordinated and administered the first Middle School Highly Gifted Magnet program in the Montgomery County Public School system. Later she directed the Division of Instruction and Information Technology which included the departments for Cable TV, Instructional Television, School Library Media Programs, Instructional Technology and the Print Shop for Montgomery County Public Schools.

Seikaly went on to become the project director for a large multi-year grant to the Maryland State Board of Education to make ten years of assessment data for each public school in the state accessible online by graphing , analyzing and training leadership teams to use the data to improve student achievement. She served as a technical assistant provider for the Council of Chief State School Officers for several of their state collaboratives; facilitated professional development for a Michigan state grant to support school leaders in over 40 schools use state assessment and local classroom data to improve student achievement; provided mentoring and professional development for low performing schools; and presented at national conferences including the Education Commission of the States, CCSSO’s Large Scale Assessment Conference, and the National Education Summit.

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Michael Buckley, Local Project Leader

Michael Buckley is an accomplished program/arts administrator, journalist and radio documentarian. For the past 20 years, Buckley has hosted a weekly radio program that airs Sunday mornings on 103.1 WRNR-FM Annapolis (www.wrnr.com). His show includes an eclectic mix of music and a widely acclaimed oral history interview series, “Voices of the Chesapeake Bay.” For this series, Buckley has crisscrossed the six-state, 64,000 sq. mile Chesapeake Bay watershed, interviewing over 500 of its residents: farmers, Native Americans, watermen, writers, politicians, and many others.

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The show has been recognized with two Governor’s Citations for excellence and community service and several “Best of Baltimore” awards from the Baltimore City Paper and Baltimore Magazine. Buckley’s interviews have been collected in a boxed set of CDs, a CD of Songs of the Chesapeake Bay, and a book, Voices of the Chesapeake Bay (Schiffer Publishing). At Washington College, Buckley has developed and teaches the ongoing C.V. Starr Center StoryQuest Oral History Workshop. As an arts administrator Buckley is a founder and has served as managing director of the American Historical Theatre, public relations coordinator of the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, founder of the Philadelphia Town Meeting, and program coordinator of the New York Open Center. He is also a weekly columnist and features writer for The Capital in Annapolis.
Erica Fugger, National Project Leader

Erica Fugger is Oral Historian to Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. She is currently developing educational resources and community partnerships for the National Home Front Project, a nationwide initiative recording memories of World War II from the perspective of American civilians.

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For five years, Erica worked and studied at Columbia University in various roles, spanning Collections Manager of the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives, Research Fellow on the Wake Up Oral History Project, and Project Coordinator to the Oral History MA program. She has served as Founding President of the Columbia Oral History Alumni Association and recently co-chaired the 2017 Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region conference, Oral History & The City, in New York.

Erica’s research focus lies in examining the personal narratives underpinning peace activism and social movements. In her spare time, she offers interview workshops and project consultations to groups around the globe. Erica holds a MA in Oral History from Columbia University and a BA in History & German from Union College.

Spring 2017 Student Leaders

Fall 2016 Student Leaders

Summer 2016 Student Leaders

Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 Student Leaders

Summer 2015 Student Leader

Summer 2014 Student Leaders