The Mosby Heritage Area Association (MHAA) recently announced the 2017 retirement of their current Executive Director, Richard T. Gillespie. Gillespie will retire January 1, 2017 and assume the role of Historian Emeritus for MHAA, continuing to be allied with the organization in a consulting role. MHAA considers this new role to be critical, in that Gillespie’s considerable knowledge of area history will continue to be valued and utilized in MHAA’s school and public programming.
Gillespie has been in the public history field since 1967 when he began interpreting the beginning of the American Revolution at Lexington, Massachusetts while still in high school. He attended the College of William and Mary and began a 30-year history-teaching career at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia, while also working as a seasonal ranger at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park for many summers.
Gillespie retired from teaching in 2004, beginning a new career as the first educator for the Mosby Heritage Area Association.
Jennifer Worcester Moore, a native of Hamilton, VA, has been appointed the new Executive Director for the preservation organization. During his teaching career, Rich Gillespie taught Jennifer Moore in American History, the class that launched her into the history field. Due to Gillespie’s class, Moore discovered that history was the direction she would pursue at Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington), from which she was graduated with a degree in American History in 2003. Immediately following her graduation, Moore began work with the Waterford Foundation, helping with the preservation operations of the National Historic Landmark Village for almost five years.
She went on to work with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership for five years. In 2012, Moore expressed her interest in working for the Mosby Heritage Area Association. Gillespie worked with then-Executive Director Judy Reynolds and MHAA Vice President Paul Ziluca to create a new position for her, hoping to utilize her skill set. Now MHAA has named Moore the next Executive Director. Moore notes, “As his former student, this transition speaks to the impact that Mr. Gillespie has had on thousands of students, helping them find their niche in the world and empowering them to pursue history as a passion, and if possible, as a profession.”
Gillespie and Moore have worked closely with the officers and board of the Mosby Heritage Area Association to ensure that the staff transition will be smooth. Gillespie says, “Jennifer Moore has the experience, organizational skills, and institutional knowledge of MHAA to bring to bear. I am extremely confident in her ability to lead.”
Also starting in January, Kevin Pawlak will assume the role held by Gillespie for a decade, as Director of Education for MHAA. As the current Education Specialist, he has strong interpretive programming skills, National Park Service interpretive training, and a burgeoning knowledge of the area’s historical landscape from having partnered with Gillespie and eagerly engaging in his own research.
Pawlak is a published historian, a Licensed Battlefield Guide for Antietam National Battlefield, and an acknowledged expert on the Battle of Shepherdstown that followed Antietam two days later. Pawlak attended Shepherd University, and strengthened his historical chops researching his college town’s Civil War experience. He also worked at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park while at Shepherd University.
The Mosby Heritage Area Association feels enormous optimism going forward, both due to the recent tweaking of its “Preservation through Education” mission with a new web site and expanded programming, as well as through this minimally-invasive administrative restructuring approach.
Moore is confident that MHAA will be “utilizing the various talents of each person while not having to lose the valuable expertise brought by Rich Gillespie after his retirement.” She is excited about helping the public to know exactly what MHAA does in terms of mission and programs.
“The Mosby Heritage Area Association has been launched into their current position of excellence with the help of Rich Gillespie’s unmatched experience in education. Our school programs—programs that reached 4,800 students in the 2015-16 school year—are excellent, and are the signature offering of MHAA.
The mission of the Mosby Heritage Area Association is Preservation through Education—to educate about the history and advocate for the preservation of the extraordinary historical landscape, culture, and scenery in the Northern Virginia Piedmont for future generations to enjoy. For more information, visit www.mosbyheritagearea.org.