NCRF’s Beth Kilker to Retire

After 10 years of managing NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, Beth Kilker is retiring and relocating to the Chicago area to be closer to family. Her last day with NCRF will be Friday, April 18.

This is actually Beth’s second retirement. She left home in Pennsylvania in 1964, and came to Washington, D.C., to work for the federal government. After 38 years, the last 25 of which were spent at the U. S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, she retired in 2002.

When NCRF became involved with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project in 2003, it was clear that someone was needed to manage the program. Beth and NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director B. J. Shorak had worked together at the Smithsonian Institution before Beth went to the Hill. Beth was happily retired when BJ contacted her about the opportunity with NCRF’s new involvement with the Veterans History Project. Beth, and her passion for veterans, jumped at the chance. The rest, as they say, is history.

During Beth’s tenure with NCRF, she took a data entry job and developed it into a full-fledged program. NCRF’s interaction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project was the start. The Board of Trustees soon realized the value in having court reporters transcribe oral histories (providing access to research by creating computer-searchable records, but also by demonstrating to the public that the reporting profession gives back in the interest of public good), and in 2005, it expanded the Veterans History Project to include the Oral Histories Program. Beth sought partnerships with other organizations of national historic significance, and NCRF now has four partners and is working on a fifth. The four include the Library of Congress’ VHP, the Center for Public Policy & Social Research at Central Connecticut State University, the Illinois State Library, and the National Equal Justice Library at Georgetown University. The fifth is very exciting and well-known and will be announced as soon as the details are finalized—hopefully by the end of April.

In addition to these formal partners, NCRF supports several major state association initiatives, including the Missouri Veterans History Project, the Texas Statewide VHP in conjunction with the Texas State Bar, and the Lake County, Illinois VHP Project.

Beth has also been instrumental in creating the “VHP Day” program, whereby firms, schools, individuals, courts, and state court reporting associations can host a day specifically dedicated to collecting the histories of local veterans. Over forty VHP Days have been held nationwide, including one at NCRA headquarters and several at NCRA Conventions.

Through her 25 years of service at the Veterans Affairs Committee, Beth developed a broad network of contacts with all of the veteran service organizations. Through her contacts, NCRF has developed a strong bond with the Disabled American Veterans organization.  Because of that networking and the Foundation’s dedication to not only transcribing histories of war veterans but also of collecting them, the DAV Charitable Service Trust has awarded two grants to NCRF to pursue DAV members.

In addition, Beth managed the Student Initiatives Program, whereby NCRF will pay for a student’s annual membership in NCRA if he or she transcribes two oral histories. She created a packet for students and instructors and developed promotional materials to encourage students to participate.

NCRF is indebted to Beth and wishes her every happiness in her retirement. Her work will continue in good hands. Effective May 1, Irene Cahill will assume her new responsibilities as Director of Research and NCRF Programs. Irene has been with NCRA for more than 20 years and brings with her an intimate knowledge of the profession, membership, and IT. She has helped NCRF over those years with its database needs and is very familiar with NCRF’s programs. NCRF is very pleased that she will be joining the ranks.

If you have any questions about NCRF and its programs, contact B. J. Shorak, Deputy Executive Director, on 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or by email at bjshorak@ncra.org.