I have always been interested in the past, in puzzles, and in people. As an archaeologist, I can combine all of those interests into a career that I love, and I’ve been doing just that for over fifteen years at FCPA.
I started with FCPA in 2006 as a volunteer. I was a non-traditional student at George Mason University studying archaeology and didn’t have the financial resources to take weeks off work to commit to a traditional field school. I was fortunate enough to meet my boss and mentor Dr. Liz Crowell at a symposium at the university and she encouraged me to see if I would enjoy volunteering. That, as they say, is my own personal history. I leveraged my volunteer experience into an internship, and later a limited-term position, a merit position, and finally about a year and a half ago, into the senior archaeologist position. When I talk to volunteers, interns, and junior staff I can truly say that I’ve been in their shoes, as I’ve had just about every type of position we offer!
My particular interest is historical cemeteries and their care. I have launched a multi-year effort to survey the cemeteries in Fairfax County and provide that information to the public for genealogical and historical research. I have also written a manual on how to care for historical cemeteries for their owners and caretakers..
As senior archaeologist it is my job to communicate the importance of our shared history to the public, to mentor students and staff who want to do this work, and to ensure that we protect and preserve important archaeological sites for the future. I have been honored to be able to do this work in the heart of my own community. As I watch my own kids grow up, suddenly time feels like it is moving faster than ever. I want to ensure that all kids that grow up in Fairfax County can learn about the history of our county through our parks. I want them to walk the same land as generations and generations of people before them and I want them to feel a part of the thread that binds our stories together.
When people think about archaeology, they often think of far-flung places, but I would really encourage them to shift their focus on the amazing history in their own back yards. In my work here at FCPA I have had the privilege to work on projects spanning over 13,000 years of human history. My favorite projects have been those that provide insight into individuals that have been traditionally underrepresented in the historical record, especially Virginia Indians, women, enslaved people, and children. Holding an artifact that belonged to someone whose name you may never know feels like a message to remember them, to tell their story. That is my goal in everything I do here at the Park Authority.