Leadership Team

Leadership Team

The National History Academy’s team is comprised of leaders in education and history

William W. Sellers

President and CEO, National History Academy


William W. Sellers serves as the President of National History Academy and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.  He has deep experience in education.  From 2008 to 2013, he served as President of Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, MO, founded in 1880. Sellers received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American History from Harvard University, where he studied under David Herbert Donald and Bernard Bailyn, and a law degree from the University of Missouri. Sellers has served in leadership roles in a broad range of organizations. Among other positions, he has served as President of the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States; on the Presidential Advisory Committee to Missouri’s Coordinating Board of Higher Education; on the Board of Trustees of the State Historical Society of Missouri; and on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association. Sellers has spent the last four years building the National History Academy into the preeminent summer history program in the country.

Michelle Burrelli

Chief Operating Officer, National History Academy


Michelle Burrelli is the Chief Operating Officer of the National History Academy and the Director of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. Michelle holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in Museum and Gallery Studies from the University of St Andrews. She has been with The Journey since 2010 and has built relationships with partner historic sites as the Director of Regional and Strategic Partnerships, managed the National Heritage Area program as the Director of the National Heritage Area, and, now as COO, manages all daily operations for the organization. Michelle has been involved in the development and implementation of many educational, tourism and preservation/conservation initiatives, and has played a major role in the foundation and development of the National History Academy.

Katie Smolar

Director of Educational Programs, National History Academy


Katie Smolar taught during the inaugural session of National History Academy in 2018 and began as the Educational Director of High School programs in 2020. Katie graduated from Purdue University West Lafayette where she studied Social Studies Education, Spanish, and Global Studies. She then attended Purdue Northwest and earned her M.A. in History, specializing in United States History. Her career has focused on studying and teaching history through different perspectives by experiencing different cultures and the diverse ways students learn and educators teach around the world. She has taught in Francisco Morazán, Honduras, Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Madrid, Spain where she focused on site-based learning and gained TEFL certification. She taught at Donald E. Gavit High School in Hammond, Indiana where she incorporated the case method into her A.P. U.S. History, Civics, and Economics classes. She helped to implement the online programs for National History Academy in 2020 and joined NHA full-time in 2021 as the Director of Education Programs.

Ava Hampton

Public Outreach Manager


Ava Hampton is the Public Outreach Manager for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area and National History Academy. She has been with the Journey since 2023. She received her B.A. from Harvard University in 2021, with a concentration in History and Literature on the American Studies track and a secondary in History of Art and Architecture. Her undergraduate work focused on the origins and evolution of American cultural institutions, particularly museums. Ava has previously held positions in public engagement and development departments at the Harvard Art Museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

Becky Wilhelm



Becky Wilhelm joined the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership and National History Academy in March 2022.  Becky oversees the accounting and finances of the organization, including the areas of budgeting, compliance and financial reporting. Becky is a graduate of the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1996. Prior to working for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Becky worked as an external auditor and consultant for many clients in the DC metropolitan area. Becky is excited to be part of the JTHG team, working to further Preservation and Conservation in the National Heritage Area, as well as supporting its exciting Educational initiatives, including the National History Academy and the Extreme Journey.

Hashim Davis

Assistant Director, National History Academy

Hashim Davis joined the National History Academy as Assistant Director in 2019. Mr. Davis has over 20 years of experience teaching history and boasts professional experiences including serving in leadership roles within Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, and the Young, Black and Gifted Academy for the UVA Office of African American Affairs. With a specialization in genocide, he was also honored to serve as a Museum Teacher Fellow for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016-2017. Mr. Davis has fostered and nurtured some of Central Virginia’s best and brightest male students of color, an achievement that reinforces his commitment to students in higher education.

Strategic Advisor

Dr. Brent D. Glass

Director Emeritus, Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Brent D. Glass is Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the world’s largest museum devoted to telling the story of America. A national leader in the preservation, interpretation, and promotion of history, Glass is a public historian who pioneered influential oral history and material culture studies, an author, television presence and international speaker on cultural diplomacy and museum management.