Executive Director Cherel Bolin Henderson has announced her plans to retire from the East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS) effective December 31, 2020, reported ETHS Board Chairman Jerome Melson. Cherel, a Jefferson County native, joined the ETHS staff in 1987, was promoted to associate director in 1995, and to executive director in 2003. Over the past 17 years under Cherel’s leadership, ETHS has continued to thrive and grow.
Cherel’s many achievements are noteworthy. She is the founding director of the ETHS Tennessee Bicentennial family heritage program, First Families of Tennessee, which now numbers almost 17,000 members from all over the world and was editor of the book First Families of Tennessee: A Register of Early Settlers and Their Present-Day Descendants. Other highlights of her career include the 2004 completion of the East Tennessee History Center’s renovation of the Old Custom House and addition that houses the Museum of East Tennessee History. She also oversaw design and construction of the Museum’s signature exhibition, Voices of the Land, The People of East Tennessee, that opened in 2008. In 2021, ETHS will be opening an interactive Children’s Gallery, History Headquarters, funded through a grant from the State of Tennessee.
Cherel’s warmth, sincerity, and her love for all things East Tennessee, have been driving forces for ETHS. Cherel’s leadership legacy will be evident in every aspect of ETHS for many years to come,” said Melson.
Cherel remarked on her retirement plans saying “I am looking forward to having more time to focus on my greatest pleasures – my children and grandchildren, historical research and writing, and traveling to far corners ‘to go to the place; stand on the spot’ where historical events took place. After 33 years at ETHS, I will certainly continue to be engaged in the East Tennessee history community.”
East Tennessee native A. Warren Dockter, Ph.D. who grew up in Grainger County, has been named by the ETHS Board of Directors as their new President and CEO after an extensive search effort was conducted, announced Melson. He worked with his family’s sign company in Blount County and attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville to earn his undergraduate degree in history and political science. He received his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham in England, United Kingdom(UK); was awarded a fellowship at University of Cambridge, England, UK; and has been a historian at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK. for the past four and a half years.
“Warren is excited to return home to join the East Tennessee Historical Society and plans to be on board as of February 1, 2021,’” Melson said. “Our directors and staff are eager for him to join the ETHS family as we embark on a new decade and a new normal. He brings to ETHS an extensive knowledge & passion for history, experience in public engagement, management and fund raising in the non-profit sector including work with the International Churchill Society, British Institute of Ankara & Aberystwyth University.”
Established in 1834, the East Tennessee Historical Society is widely acknowledged as one of the most active history organizations in the state and enjoys a national reputation for excellence in programming and education. For 186 years the East Tennessee Historical Society has been helping East Tennesseans hold on to our unique heritage-- recording the events, collecting the artifacts, and saving the stories that comprise the history we all share.
For more information on ETHS exhibitions, programs, or museum hours, call 865-215-8824 or visit the website at www.EastTNHistory.org.