Board & Staff

WBLAHS 2024 Board of Directors – Officers

ROB THOMAS, WOKIKSUYE YUHA MANI (DAKOTA)

ROB THOMAS, WOKIKSUYE YUHA MANI (DAKOTA)

President

Rob is currently the Development Director for History Theater after spending over six years as Executive Director at Lakeshore Players Theatre in White Bear Lake, MN. Rob is of Dakota ancestry and his research of the lives of the Dakota people before, during, and after the Dakota/U.S. War of 1862 culminated in a commissioned work for the History Theatre’s Raw Stages Series entitled 38: The Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. His Grandmother gave him the name Wokiksuye Yuha Mani, which translates from Dakota to “walks with memories,” because of his early love of hearing, documenting, and telling family history and stories. Mr. Thomas has served on and presided over several nonprofit boards and also currently sits on the board of directors for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.

Mike Shepard

Mike Shepard

Vice President

Mike was born and raised in White Bear Lake. He has been a member of the White Bear Lions Club since 1999, and enjoys helping the Historical Society spread the message about our great city.

Kathy Doucette

Kathy Doucette

Secretary

Kathy loves everything about our community, and being a board member allows her to keep learning about it’s rich history. She has been a Realtor since 1999 and feel very fortunate to work with so many amazing clients. However her proudest accomplishment is, and always will be, her three kids.

Bill Short

Bill Short

Treasurer

Bill has been involved with White Bear Township since 1973, serving first as consulting planner and then as a member of staff as Planner and Clerk-Treasurer. He genuinely appreciates our interesting history and enjoys sharing it with others and integrating it into our communities’ future.

WBLAHS 2023 Board of Directors – At Large

Matthew Bebel

Matthew Bebel

At-Large

Matthew has been a resident of White Bear Lake since 2001. He has served on the Historical Society board since 2018. Matthew enjoys learning about all types of history and architecture, but especially local history. 2015 was a big year for Matthew. He got married, his home was on the Historical Society’s home tour, and Zeke, his dog, was Toto in the Lincoln Elementary School’s production of the Wizard of Oz. In the Fall 2021, he received a Chief’s Award from the St. Paul Police Department for his forensic work which helped solved a homicide.

Bill Foussard

Bill Foussard

At-Large

Bill is an active member of the community and believes in keeping White Bear Lake vibrant and lively. He has owned the White Bear Country Inn since March of 2002. He is currently on the board of EWB, Manitou Days, Marketfest, and is Founding Chair and Board member of the Greater White Bear Lake Community Foundation.

Joel Holstad

Joel Holstad

At-Large

Joel is a graduate of White Bear Mariner High School. He is the current Clerk for the City of Dellwood and a partner at Lake National Law. His favorite White Bear memories include fishing for sunnies at the ruins of the old boat works, baling hay west of Otter Lake road with his dad, and riding his bike around the lake before school so he missed homeroom. Joel believes, “We explore and celebrate our community’s past, so we better understand who we are today, and may be tomorrow.”

Doug Karle

Doug Karle

At-Large

Doug has been a member and volunteer for the WBLAHS for many years and is currently a board member. He is passionate about preserving history for future generations and finds White Bear Lake’s unique history fascinating. His wife and children are either traumatized, enthralled, or bored hearing history facts from Doug.

Jeanenne Rausch

Jeanenne Rausch

At-Large

Jeanenne has been a resident of White Bear Township since 1991. She served on the WBL Fire Department 2001-2013 out of Station 1. She has also served on the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society board for 6 years and loved it so much, that she came back this year! Fun fact: she enjoys all types of music and is currently taking accordion lessons. She loves living and serving her community.

Jim Lane

Jim Lane

At-Large

Jim is passionate about natural history and human relationship to the land. He teaches biology and field ecology at Mahtomedi High School where he engages his students in the process of science and investigation of the natural world.  He is also the advisor for the EcoClub, Power Walking Club, and the MAPS Protein Modeling Teams. He believes that our choices today are influenced by the past and create the history of tomorrow.  To make a better future we must first understand the past.

Staff

Sara Hanson

Sara Hanson

Executive Director

Sara Hanson has been the executive director at the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society since 2001. Through her position, she has been able to develop programming objectives that meet the needs of the community and fit her enthusiasm for research, writing and sharing the past. A focus on community involvement, building relationships and maintaining a strong sense of place are key components to Hanson’s role as a leader in the White Bear area. She embraces the challenge to uncover new information and continue adding to the collective story. Connecting people to the past through commemorative events, publications and programs are her passion.

Hanson earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies with minors in English and Anthropology and a master’s degree in Public History, both from St. Cloud State University.

Rheanna O'Brien

Rheanna O'Brien

Education Director

Rheanna is the current Education Director for the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society with proven expertise in local history developed across a well-regarded 15-year career in education. Rheanna is experienced in developing and implementing an engaging and relevant local social studies curriculum for the Historical Society and excels and cultivates, maintaining positive and productive relationships with all educational constituencies, including students, administrators, and the community. In the past two years, Rheanna has developed a partnership with the White Bear Lake Area Schools by starting a History Club with the Highschool with over thirty members, created a pilot program with outreach to third-grade classrooms, taught relevant history lectures to tenth-grade Honors English classes, and is currently the Delegation Director for the local Youth in Government civics program.

Dan Jones

Dan Jones

Creative Director

Dan grew up in White Bear Lake and graduated from White Bear High School Class of 1984. After college and working typical various jobs trying to “find a career”, he settled into the kitchen industry and spent over 25 years in sales, training, product development, marketing, and manufacturing. For the last 15 years, he worked for an online cabinet manufacturer providing training, video, voice-over, photography, and graphic materials for the company. In 2022, he made the worst financial decision of his life by accepting the position of Creative Director for the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society but couldn’t be happier with the career change. His wife Sallie and he moved back to White Bear Lake in 1998 to raise their three daughters, who are all White Bear graduates. Go Bears! He has also volunteered for various community organizations and has served on the White Bear Lake City Council since 2008.

Allison Lincoln

Allison Lincoln

Community Engagement Director

Allison Lincoln is the Community Engagement Director at the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. A dedicated nonprofit professional, Allison has a passion for connecting communities, all things new and exciting in the fundraising world, and is an avid dog lover.

Lincoln earned a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Psychology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

If you would like to get in touch with one of our staff, please contact our main office at office@whitebearhistory.org or 651-407-5327.