Dr. Márcia Balisciano is the Founding Director of Benjamin Franklin House. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and holds an MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Economic History from the London School of Economics.
Join Dr Márcia Balisciano (Founding Director of Benjamin Franklin House), Brandon Dillard (Manager of Historic Interpretation at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello), and Brenda Parker (Coordinator of African American Interpretation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon), as they discuss how these three institutions contextualize and interpret Slavery in the Founding Era.
Brandon Dillard is Manager of Historic Interpretation at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, a Presidential historic house museum and site of plantation slavery where he’s worked for more than ten years. Brandon holds degrees in philosophy and literature from Georgia State University (BA 2006) and sociocultural anthropology from the University of Virginia (MA 2018); his research focuses on public memory and power at historic sites, museums, and monuments.
Brandon's primary role at Monticello is to train and support staff, and he acts as an institutional representative to help others understand how race, class, gender, and power intersect with the construction of public memory and the creation of historical narratives. He has been associated with the Getting Word Oral History Project in various capacities since 2013, and he helps manage most of Monticello's public programs and the Education and Visitor Programs team.
Brenda Parker is the Coordinator of African American Interpretation and Special Projects at Mount Vernon. Foremost she serves as a liaison between the institution’s mission to “preserve, maintain and restore” and the descendants of the enslaved at Mount Vernon. Developing programs such as the Lives, Loves and Losses: Remembering the Families. She also works closely with the League of the Descendants of the Mount Vernon Enslaved, a newly formed organization. They freely allow and encourage her to portray their ancestors in the second part of her job her as a Historical Character Interpreter. In this position she narrates the stories of multiple persons individually or collectively in story format such as her play titled Freedom Skies. Brenda Parker has worked for the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association for almost 17 years. She started working at the Mount Vernon Inn in 2004. She has thirty plus years of acting, music, and theatre experience, as well as early childhood education. Additionally she is a licensed minister, wife of a Pastor, mother of four adult children, two beautiful and smart daughters-in-law, and is Griot to one exceptional, tiny human being. Brenda believes in the Ghanaian ancestral saying of “Sankofa” To go back and get. In other words, we must learn from our past to get to our future.