Board of Directors

John Ashbaugh
  Board Member John has taught sociology and history at Allan Hancock College and Cal Poly. John’s varied career also includes city planning, public education, and co-founding the SLO County Land Conservancy. He ran for public office and served two terms on the San Luis Obispo City Council and served on the city’s planning commission. John holds masters degrees in landscape architecture, city planning, and education and a doctorate in educational leadership and organizations from UCSB. As a History Center board member, John hopes to extend the understanding of the many historical forces that have shaped the physical environment of our county. He is also excited about expanding the current History Center as part of San Luis Obispo’s downtown cultural district.
Sandy Baer
Vice President Sandy moved to San Luis Obispo from San Francisco in 1983. A native of Missouri, she graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with undergraduate degrees in journalism and interior design, as well as an master’s degree in journalism. She has been active in community and civic organizations, working as staff and volunteer for the SLO Arts Council, SLO Symphony, Mozaic Festival, the History Center, Noontime Kiwanis and Flying Samaritans. Sandy served eight years on SLO city’s Promotions Coordinating Committee and is currently in her 7th year on the Cultural Heritage Committee. She wrote for SLO Journal magazine for 18 years, often doing research in the History Center’s research room.
Sam Blakeslee

Board Member Sam counts himself lucky to have grown up here on the Central Coast, attending elementary school, high school, and Cuesta Community College. After careers that ranged construction, academia, and the oil and gas business he returned to San Luis Obispo in 1995 to join Blakeslee & Blakeslee and take an active role in many community organizations. He spent eight years in the California State Legislature, serving as GOP leader of the State Assembly and working closely with Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown. Sam returned to San Luis Obispo in 2012 and founded the new Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He spends his weekends writing his father’s biography, renovating his Victorian home in downtown San Luis Obispo, and hiking the rugged lands along the Nacimiento River in southern Monterey County.

Pete Kelley
Board Member Pete moved to San Luis Obispo in 1968 to attend Cal Poly and major in history. His senior project involved locating primary documents from the Spanish days of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Pete first joined the board of the History Center in 2000 and has served as chair of the Exhibits Committee since 2001. He has also volunteered in the research room since 2008. Over the years, Pete was the proprietor of three local cafes. He is currently president of the Avila Beach Community Services District.
Bill McCarthy
President Bill is a partner in Montecito Enterprises and an engineer. He moved back to San Luis Obispo in 2013 with his wife Margot, a native San Luis Obispan, and five children. He has held a variety of board and leadership positions with organizations including Joe on the Move, Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, Grottos of the Americas (a non-profit children’s dental organization), and the Professional Association of Dive Instructors. Bill is a past board member of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, a SCUBA instructor, an avid gardener, a photographer, and a jazz pianist. 
Zachary McKiernan
Board Member Zach is an academically trained public historian. After earning his doctorate at UCSB in 2014, Zach taught at Hampton University in Virginia. Before that, he worked with human rights groups in Chile recovering former sites of detention and torture. Zach is interested in publicly engaged scholarship, sees history as a community-building and problem-solving discipline, and is passionate about undoing historical injustices. As a History Center board member, Zach hopes to affect positive social change through the practice, study, and sharing of history.
Julie Moore

Secretary Julie was raised in the Bay Area of California. She graduated from San Diego State and earned her teaching degree from Cal Poly. She taught for almost twenty years in California, Morocco, and Indonesia. She has been a member and volunteer for the History Center since 2013 and has served on the Collection Committee, the Development Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Board of Directors, including as president from 2016 through 2017. She lives in San Luis Obispo with her husband Matt.

John Schutz
  Board Member John came to San Luis Obispo in 1998, following a career in the automotive industry in Detroit and Los Angeles. A native of Nebraska, he attended the University of Nebraska and the Chrysler Institute of Engineering. Building on his interests in history and woodworking, he joined the exhibit committee of the History Center (then the San Luis Obispo County Historical Society) during the 1999-2000 shutdown and remains active in the development and fabrication of exhibits. He is also on the collections committee. He served on the board for five years with 18 months as President in 2003-2004, and helped with three major relocations of our collections. He has also served on the Board of ECOSLO, on the County Grand Jury, and currently on the SLOCOG Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee.  
Roberta Soules
  Treasurer Roberta grew up in Long Beach, California. She moved to San Luis Obispo to study social sciences at Cal Poly, returning later to study taxation and accounting as well. She then pursued an education in financial planning at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Roberta provided tax and financial planning services for 40 years and is now semi-retired. Roberta first served on the board as treasurer from 2005-2011 and returned to that position in 2015.  She is also chair of the finance committee and serves on the exhibits committee. Roberta enjoys piano playing and gardening.
Phil Tillman
Board Member Phil is a native Californian who grew up in Riverside. After graduating from the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis in 1972, he worked in private practice in Arroyo Grande for five years. Subsequently he worked for the US Department of Agriculture and for UC Davis. He relocated to San Luis Obispo County after retiring in 2007. Phil volunteers as a docent for PG&E’s Pecho Coast Trail and for the Point San Luis Lightstation. He also serves as a member of both the Program Committee of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden and the History Center’s Finance Committee. Phil raises goats and chickens, makes cheese, plays bagpipes, and gets passionate about history.

History Center Staff

Lois Capps visits History Center summer 2015

History Center board and staff members with Congresswoman Lois Capps (center), 2015. Photograph by Aimee Armour-Avant.

We’re Proud to Serve

History Center board and staff members work hard to ensure that the collections in our care will survive to inform and inspire our county for generations to come. We believe that the preservation of cultural heritage is a human right, and we strive to provide broad and equitable access to the opportunities and resources managed by our organization. We welcome questions, comments, or suggestions. Call, email, or appear during public comment at our board meetings. Interested in getting even more involved? Ask about joining, volunteering, serving on a committee, or running for the board.

Thomas Kessler

Interim Director

Kaylee Scoggins Herring

Collections Manager

Ruth Latson

Dallidet Researcher

Randy Harris

Weekend Manager