Jen Mason, Co-Chair History Book Festival
Jen Mason owns biblion:used book and rare finds on Second Street in Lewes. In addition, she works as a freelance writer and editor, most recently serving as Editor in Chief of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware’s newspaper for over a decade. Before opening her shop, Jen was a stay-at-home mother, having retired from directing an international organizational development and instructional design team for the world’s largest printing company. She also worked as the Development Director for nine of Yale University’s professional schools, as well as a regional project manager for AT&T. Throughout her career, Jen has shared her time and talents with multiple civic organizations, serving on boards of directors for numerous non-profits and interfaith organizations as well as many event committees. Currently she is a director for the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and for Coastal Concerts, in addition to advising the Historic Lewes Farmers Market and the Greater Lewes Community Village. She and her daughter, Clare, live in Lewes with their dog, Nellie and one too many cats.
Ron Collins, Co-Chair History Book Festival
Ronald Collins is the Harold S. Shefelan Distinguished Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. In 1982, he served as a Supreme Court Fellow under Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Collins is the author or co-author of some eleven books, including When Money Speaks (2014), On Dissent: Its Meaning in America (2013), Mania: The Story of the Outraged & Outrageous Lives that Launched a Cultural Revolution ((2013), and The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall & Rise of An American Icon (2002). His latest book, also co-authored with David Skover, is The Judge, which will be published by the trade division of Oxford University Press this October.
He is the book editor of SCOTUSblog. In 2010, Collins was a fellow in residence at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He was one of the founders of the Washington Independent Review of Books and also served on its board of editors. He lives part time in Lewes with his wife, Susan.
Joan Russo, Communications Co-Chair
After a career in philanthropic and public affairs communications for large corporations, Joan retired as head of global branding and reputation communications for Merck. As a volunteer, she was founding co-president of the Somerset Hills Education Foundation in New Jersey. She also led the creation of Young Authors Day for her children’s elementary school that featured best-selling writers, as well as illustrators, editors, paper makers and puppeteers. She graduated from Trinity, Washington, DC, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Joan earned a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School at Northwestern. She resides in Lewes with her husband, Donald Burset.
Linda Dylla, Communications Co-chair
After a career in project management, computer programming and public information communications, Linda retired as the head of communications at a Department of Energy national lab, Jefferson Lab in Newport News and started her own science communications company that was active for eight years. She is a Trustee of the Lewes Historical Society and most recently served on the steering committee for the new Lewes History Museum. She volunteers for the Greater Lewes Community Village yearly sale, and has served on the Lewes Dog Park board and has volunteered for the Historic Lewes Farmers Market. She has lived in, on or near the water since birth and has been living full time in Lewes for the last four years. Linda loves books and gardening and has started book clubs wherever she has lived including Lewes. She resides with her woodworking, bike-riding husband, Fred, in Lewes.
Tom Thunstrom, Communications
Tom Thunstrom is a relative newcomer to Lewes, having permanently moved to the area this year from suburban Philadelphia. However, he visited and spent plenty of weekends at the Delaware beaches for the last 15 years and can tell you that the locals definitely pronounce Lewes as Loo-is. Tom hails originally from Minneapolis with a degree in History from the University of Minnesota. A banker by trade with WSFS, Tom has a passion for community outreach and service, having served on his local library board in suburban Philadelphia for nearly a decade. Tom's favorite historical subjects are the Roosevelt family, Dwight Eisenhower, and Minnesota's Native American history during its settlement.
Ruth Cohen, Fundraising
Ruth Cohen has always been passionate about books. She moved to Lewes with her husband, Gerry, a year ago, intent on getting involved in the community. She is thrilled to be working on The History Book Festival and is also a volunteer on the YWCA's Sexual Assault Response Line. Ruth's past volunteer service included serving on the board of a women's shelter in central PA and working in Philadelphia as a Make-a-Wish volunteer.
Jim Curtis, Author/Book selection
James C. Curtis is Professor Emeritus of the University of Delaware, where he taught American History from 1970 to 2003. He also served as Director of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture for twenty years. He lives in Lewes and is the author of four books:
The Fox at Bay: Martin Van Buren and the Presidency (1970), Andrew Jackson and the Search for Vindication (1976), Mind’s Eye, Mind’s Truth, FSA Photography Reconsidered (1989), Discriminating Views, Documentary Photography and Japanese American Internment (2016)
Rebecca Lowe, Volunteer coordination and Library Liaison
Rebecca is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Lewes Public Library where she recruits, trains, and supervises over 100 volunteers. She also is the Development Director and helped with the capital campaign to build the new Library. Prior to working at the library, Rebecca was in the field of social services assisting survivors of domestic violence. During her time as a stay-at-home mom, she became active in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Odyssey of the Mind. Rebecca attended Bryn Mawr College where she received an undergraduate degree in psychology as well as a master’s degree in social services and a master’s in law and social policy. Rebecca lives in Lewes with her husband, Bill, and their children, Daniel and Hannah.
Matt Ash, Budget and Logistics
A resident of five years, Matthey spent most of his time in the Washington D.C. area where he was a corporate and securities lawyer and was also involved in numerous businesses and non-profits. He is an avid reader of history and has focused on helping the History Book Festival establish organizational structure, obtain its trademarks and will work with the various venues to ensure the smooth operation of the festival in October. Matthew few up in Michigan and attended the University of Michigan and Georgetown Law School. His is now retired and is pursing his interests in cabinet making and banjo playing.
Thomas A. Owen, Fundraising
Tom spent his career in insurance underwriting and plan design includes the evaluation of a company’s risk management exposurs including analyzing their financial risks from various contingencies. He was president of Owen Incorporated, based in the York, Pennsylvania area, specializing primarily in commercial property and casualty insurance. While in York, Tom was a member of the York Chamber of Commerce, the York Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow and was on the boards of the YMCA, Historic York Inc., York Health Corporation, York Insurance Agents Association as well as various organization committees.
Tom and his wife Libby moved to Lewes permanently in 2006 however they had spent many summer vacations here. Since moving to Lewes, Tom has served the community by through the Lewes Chamber of Commerce, the fund raising committee for the Canalfront Park Phase III project and as a former member of the Board of Adjustments.
In 2013 he became a member of the board of the Board of Public Works.
Tom is a graduate of Washington and Lee University, and spent two years in the Army leaving as a first Lieutenant.