Staff


John Lewis, Executive Director

john lewis webJohn was named Historic Ithaca’s new Executive Director in February 2016. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier in Binghamton, NY, and as the Executive Director of Museums Alaska, a statewide museum association. John holds a doctorate in American History from the University of Kentucky and has taught at universities in Kentucky and Alaska. He has a special interest in agriculture and rural life. John lives in Ithaca.

Christine O’Malley, Preservation Services Coordinator

Christine in actionChristine leads Historic Ithaca’s efforts in education, advocacy and community engagement and consults with home and property owners, businesses, city and county government officials, and educators. She holds a Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of Virginia and served as a volunteer member of the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission. Previously she served as assistant director of the Carol Tatkon Center at Cornell University and held visiting faculty appointments in art and art history at several colleges and universities.

Kati Smith, Events and Community Engagement Coordinator

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Kati provides promotion of Historic Ithaca’s events and the development of heritage tourism projects in the City of Ithaca and in Tompkins County through communications strategies across multiple platforms. Previously she served as the Preservation and Design Specialist for Corning’s Gaffer District where she developed her love of historic preservation and downtowns.

Sara Johnson, Significant Elements and Work Preserve Job Training Manager

Sara has served as Significant Elements and Work Preserve Program Manager since 2011. At Significant Elements, Sara leads Historic Ithaca’s Work Preserve program, which provides hands-on training in traditional trade and retail skills to youth and adults with barriers to employment. An upstate New York native, she first joined Historic Ithaca as an intern from 2007-2008 and in 2010 rejoined the organization as a Preservation Associate. Sara received a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and in 2009 completed M.A. coursework in Historic Preservation Planning at Cornell.

Karen Binder, Office Manager and Bookkeeper

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Karen comes to Historic Ithaca with years of experience as a certified managerial accountant, copy editor and community volunteer.  In January 2016 she became the office manager and bookkeeper in a position Historic Ithaca shares with The History Center of Tompkins County.  In addition to greatly expanding our organizational capacity and ability to monitor our finances, she brings an enthusiasm for local history, a desire to help Historic Ithaca move forward and an intrepid spirit.

Karen Coleman, Work Preserve Education & Outreach

Karen brings to Historic Ithaca three decades of experience in working with children and youth. As a program management specialist  at Tompkins County Youth Services, she focused on youth employment and saw a need to offer hands-on training opportunities to young people who have not succeeded in school or work environments. She joined Historic Ithaca in January 2011 after learning about its unique Work Preserve program.

Board of Directors


  • Julee Johnson, President
  • Ethan Mancil, Treasurer
  • Randi Kepecs, Secretary
  • Lisken Cordes
  • Dan Hoffman
  • Rod Howe
  • Nancy Medsker
  • Caitlin Schickel
  • Dennis Stein
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