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Rock County Historical Society names new director

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
August 12, 2009
— Joel Van Haaften will become the Rock County Historical Society's new executive director Sept. 1, according to a press release from the organization Tuesday afternoon.

He replaces Madge Murphy, who had led the society for nearly four years.


"Joel brings a wealth of experience from his work in historical societies in other communities. We are very pleased he will be coming to the Rock County Historical Society," said Duke Ellingson, board president, in an issued statement.


Van Haaften lives in Fort Atkinson where he has been working as an independent historical contractor as well as doing projects for the Whitewater Historical Society. Before that, he was director of the Lombard Historical Museum and the Sheldon Peck Homestead site. He also has worked at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historical Site in Illinois.


"There is great potential here at the RCHS," Van Haaften, said in the press release.


"I look forward to meeting and building relationships with members of the society, business leaders, families, schools and elected officials of Janesville and Rock County," he said.


Van Haaften also said he welcomes the challenge of advancing the society's mission and objectives while working to grow membership, attendance and financial support.


He earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Northern Iowa, where he also received a certificate in nonprofit administration.


He earned his master's degree in historical administration from Eastern Illinois University.


The historical society operates the Lincoln-Tallman House and the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center.



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