Christian Cotz, CEO
Christian became the CEO of the First Amendment Museum in January of 2020 having served in successively senior roles at James Madison’s Montpelier since 2000. Being a student of all things Madisonian (literally and figuratively, since he also attained two degrees from James Madison University), Christian comes to FAM well versed in the First Amendment – one of Madison’s most important accomplishments, and one of Christian’s favorite topics to talk about.
As Director of Education and Visitor Engagement at Montpelier, Christian designed exhibits, created educational programs, helped restore buildings, built trails, participated in strategic & interpretive planning exercises, managed personnel, led creative workshops, and gave more tours than he can ever possibly recall. For those twenty years he insisted on and persisted in making Montpelier’s story more inclusive, and was at the forefront of Montpelier’s efforts to build and maintain relationships with families descended from Montpelier’s enslaved community.
Christian was also the project director for the groundbreaking exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour, which opened in 2017 and won six national museum awards. The following year he coordinated the National Summit on Teaching Slavery which produced The Rubric on Engaging Descendant Communities in the Interpretation of Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites which he was also a contributing author to, and co-edited. Christian has also served as a consultant on other interpretive projects at various museums and historic sites.
Christian looks forward to the challenge of building something new and exciting at the First Amendment Museum, hopes he can continue to broaden the historical narrative, amplify voices that haven’t been heard, and inspire people to understand and utilize our most important natural rights.
Jamie O’Brien, Chief Development Officer
Jamie O’Brien joined the First Amendment Museum in July 2021 bringing 20 years of experience in museums, development, and journalism. Coming most recently from the Colby College Museum of Art where she served as Interim Director of Museum Development and Museum Development Officer, where efforts resulted in record-breaking museum annual fund giving and major gifts towards Colby’s Dare Northward Campaign.
She understands the importance of the First Amendment having worked as a journalist earlier in her career at Time, Inc.’s Entertainment Weekly in New York, as Editor-in-Chief of Where Magazine, Boston, and as the founding Director of Content for AltaVista Entertainment in Boston. Jamie received a BS in Journalism and Speech Communications from Ball State University.
Jamie looks forward to helping establish a new concept museum that will educate and inform the public about how to utilize their First Amendment rights every day, and how it can impact social justice in this important time in our history.
Maxwell Nosbisch, Manager of Visitor Experiences
Maxwell Nosbisch has always had a passion for museum interpretation, community engagement, and the American experience. Originally from North Carolina, Maxwell studied Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC. Maxwell then received his Master’s in Historic Preservation along with certificates in Museum Studies and Cultural Landscape Conservation from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. Along the way, Maxwell has worked at a variety of museums and cultural institutions giving tours, developing programs, mounting exhibits, and more. These experiences, coupled with a passion for civic engagement and our First Amendment rights, led Maxwell to the First Amendment Museum. Maxwell is excited for the First Amendment Museum’s future and is only an email or phone call away.
Meghan Sylvester, Manager of Communications and Digital Engagement
Meghan Sylvester is a public historian from south Louisiana. She joins the First Amendment Museum with five years of experience as the director and curator of a local history museum in Louisiana, where she worked to create new exhibits, educational programming, and digital content that increased the overall engagement with the museum. Meghan studied history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, eventually earning a Master of Arts in History with a concentration in public history and historical interpretation. But her passion for art and digital history led her to pursue opportunities in graphic design and video editing.
Meghan is most excited about the opportunity to develop interactive online resources that encourage viewers to learn more about their First Amendment rights, as she firmly believes activism is a central part of museum work.
Bernadette Stolt, Museum Assistant
Bernadette Stolt has been with the First Amendment Museum since March of 2019. She uses her multi-tasking and organizational skills to maintain a welcoming and efficient office environment. Bernadette received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Husson College where she lettered in Women’s Basketball and Softball, and was a member of Delta Sigma Delta. Bernadette is a lifelong Mainer and proud to be from the Mt. Katahdin area. The mountain was named Katahdin by the Penobscot Native Americans, which means “The Greatest Mountain”.
Whitney Durgin, Intern
Whitney Durgin is a recent graduate from The University of Maine, Farmington with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. She grew up in Maine, and is passionate about many topics including social justice issues, art, running, music, fashion and theater. She is excited to intern at The First Amendment Museum, and hopes to build a career in exhibit design and curatorial work over the next few years.
Sophia Lingar, Intern
Sophia Lingar is entering her senior year at Thomas College. In the spring of 2023, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy. Sophia is originally from New Hampshire and was homeschooled until college. This background established a love of history, politics, and philosophy. In the last few years, she has been able to work as a dance teacher, administrative assistant, tutor, and TA. One of her favorite parts about college so far has been being a member of Student Senate and, most recently, being elected president. The opportunity to be captain of the cross country and track teams has been another highlight. Sophia is excited to join the First Amendment Museum as one of their 2022 summer interns.
Colin Marquis-Boutin, Intern
Colin Marquis-Boutin is a Mechanic Falls, Maine native and now a rising junior at Bates College in Lewiston, double majoring in Politics and Chinese Language. At Bates, Colin is also a member of the college’s jazz band and has played the saxophone for ten years. After taking two classes in constitutional law this past year, Colin discovered a new interest and passion for our Constitution, its history, and its impact on the lives of Americans. As an intern at the First Amendment Museum, Colin is excited to expand his knowledge of the First Amendment while also communicating to the public the importance of the rights the First Amendment grants and protects.