Media Contact: J.A. Lyon, 434-984-7596

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the private, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, announces the election of Annette Gordon-Reed and Tobias Dengel to its Board of Trustees, effective January 1, 2020. 

“Both Annette and Tobias have served as invaluable advisors to Monticello, and we are honored to welcome them to our Board,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “Annette’s scholarship has guided the Foundation’s efforts to tell the story of the Hemings family and all who lived and labored at Monticello. Tobias has provided advice and guidance over the years on a wide range of topics, from developing digital platforms to engaging new audiences.”

Professor Annette Gordon-Reed
Annette Gordon-Reed

Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, a Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and formerly the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2010-2016) and Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (2014-2015). Gordon-Reed won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2009 for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton, 2009), a subject she had previously written about in Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (University Press of Virginia, 1997). She is the editor of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History (Oxford University Press, 2002), and also the author of Andrew Johnson (Times Books/Henry Holt, 2010). Her most recently published book (with Peter S. Onuf) is “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing, 2016).

Gordon-Reed’s honors include the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the “Genius Grant.”  She is also the recipient of a fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Humanities, the National Humanities Medal, and sixteen book prizes including the National Book Award, the George Washington Book Prize and the Frederick Douglass Book Prize. Gordon-Reed was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and the American Philosophical Society in 2019.

Gordon-Reed has served on Monticello’s Advisory Committee for African American Affairs since 2004 and the Advisory Board for Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies (ICJS) since 2005. She has been a featured speaker at Monticello numerous times, including the 2016 public summit, “Memory, Mourning, Mobilization: Legacies of Slavery and Freedom in America,” co-hosted with the National Endowment for the Humanities, and “Look Closer” in 2018, the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Getting Word African American Oral History Project and the opening of “The Life of Sally Hemings” exhibit. Gordon-Reed has also participated in Monticello-sponsored international conferences in Cuba, Morocco, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Chile, and Australia.

“Over the course of several decades, no one has done more to bring the stories of the Hemings family into the public dialogue than Annette Gordon-Reed,” said Bowman. “Annette has been critical in our efforts to restore the voices of the men and women who were enslaved at Monticello, underscoring our commitment to history that is honest, complicated, and inclusive.”

Gordon-Reed resides in Manhattan with her husband, New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed and in Cambridge, MA.

Tobias Dengel
Tobias Dengel

Tobias Dengel is the CEO of WillowTree, a leading mobile applications and web development company based in Charlottesville, VA.

Founded in 2007, WillowTree was one of the first companies to launch an iPhone app. From its early focus on application development, the company has evolved into a full-service application strategy, user experience design, and app development agency. WillowTree has been recognized by the Webby Awards, Chartwell, the W3 Awards and has been named to the prestigious Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies for eight consecutive years—a streak that fewer than 1% of honorees achieve.

A November 2019 merger with Columbus, Ohio-based Dynamit Technologies makes WillowTree the largest independent digital products agency in the United States, with more than 500 employees. Notable clients include American Express, 21st Century Fox, Regal Cinemas, and National Geographic, among others.

Previously, Dengel co-founded, where he managed the company’s rapid expansion as an early pioneer in packaging online search products together (including Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL) for sale to small businesses. Dengel’s earlier roles included executive positions at AOL, and work as an analyst for global management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney.

A member of Monticello’s External Affairs Committee since 2011, Dengel has helped guide the Foundation in its development of onsite technology and digital engagement strategies.

“Tobias is a world-class innovative thinker,” said Bowman. “He embodies Jefferson’s spirit of relentless curiosity, which is essential in today’s digital age. We are extremely grateful for the inventive and pioneering expertise he brings to Monticello’s board.”

Dengel holds a BSE in Finance (Wharton) and a BSE in Systems Engineering, both from the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife Lynn, a surgical oncologist, and their four children, reside in Charlottesville, VA.

About the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the Foundation seeks to bring history forward into national and global dialogues by engaging audiences with Jefferson’s world and ideas and inviting them to experience the power of place at Monticello.  Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a United Nations World Heritage Site and a Site of Conscience. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. Approximately 400,000 people visit Monticello each year. For information, visit