Expert Resources

Autry leaders, curators, educators, and other staff are available to speak on a variety of topics related to the American West.

W. Richard West, Jr. (Cheyenne)

President and CEO

Expertise: Museum leadership and vision, culture and heritage of American Indians living in the United States, American history from a Native American perspective, Native American law

Rick West assumed leadership of the Autry in December 2012. He was the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), where he guided the successful opening of the three facilities that comprise the NMAI. He oversaw the creation of the George Gustav Heye Center (New York, 1994); supervised planning for the Cultural Resources Center (Suitland, MD, 1999), housing 800,000 objects; and provided critical vision for the Mall museum (Washington, D.C., 2004). He most recently served as the interim director of the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. Before his museum career, West practiced law at the Indian-owned Albuquerque, New Mexico law firm of Gover, Stetson, Williams & West, P.C. and was an associate attorney, then partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. He was counsel to American Indian tribes, communities, and organizations, representing clients before federal, state, and tribal courts, federal agencies, and the U.S. Congress. He holds a bachelor’s degree in American history magna cum laude from the University of Redlands, a master’s degree in American history from Harvard University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University, where he served as an editor and note editor of the Stanford Law Review. West is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nation of Oklahoma and a Peace Chief of the Southern Cheyenne.

Stephen Aron, PhD

Western History Chair

Expertise: North American frontiers and borderlands, U.S. West, colonial and early national North America, world history

Stephen Aron is history professor and vice chair for academic personnel in the History Department at UCLA. Dr. Aron is the founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the American West and is currently its Western History Chair. Before joining the UCLA faculty, Dr. Aron taught at Princeton University. He is the author of How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky From Daniel Boone to Henry Clay (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) andAmerican Confluence: The Missouri Frontier From Borderland to Border State(Indiana University Press, 2005); co-editor of Trading Cultures: The Worlds of Western Merchants (Brepols, 2001); and coauthor of Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World from the Beginnings of Humankind to the Present(WW Norton, first edition, 2002). He is currently completing American Wests: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press and working on a book with the tentative title Can We All Get Along: An Alternative History of American Wests.He holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his master’s and doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Carolyn Brucken, PhD

Curator of Western Women’s History

Expertise: Western women’s history, historic clothing and fashion, the American West and the Civil War, nineteenth-century Westward expansion and history, California Gold Rush

Carolyn Brucken interprets and researches Autry exhibitions, as well as develops its collections with a focus on women in the West. Her exhibitions at the Autry include California Style: Art and Fashion From the California Historical Society(2007), Home Lands: How Women Made the West (2010), California’s Designing Women (2012), Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic (2013) and Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West (2015). During a decade-long career, she has served as the interim vice president of curatorial and exhibitions (2012) and the deputy director of the Institute for the Study of American West (2007–2008). Before joining the Autry, Brucken worked at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles (1999–2003) and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. (1994–1996). She taught American studies at Miami University and California State University–Fullerton. She is coauthor of Home Lands: How Women Made the West(University of California Press, 2010). Brucken holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Miami University, a master’s degree from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in early American culture, and a doctorate in American civilization from George Washington University.

Maren Dougherty

Director of Communications and Marketing

Expertise: Museum marketing, social media, search engine marketing, mobile engagement, museum applications of emerging technologies, technology-focused collaboration

Maren Dougherty oversees the Autry’s marketing and communications initiatives, with an emphasis on institutional positioning and audience development. Prior to joining the Autry, Dougherty was the director of external affairs for the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC), a groundbreaking museum technology project serving more than twenty cultural institutions in San Diego’s Balboa Park. In 2011, Dougherty was one of two BPOC staff to live in Balboa Park for 26.2 days for “Museum Marathon,” a social media campaign to showcase everything happening at the park and its cultural institutions. Before joining BPOC in 2010, she was the public affairs director for Survivors of Torture, International, a nonprofit organization serving refugees and asylum seekers. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Dougherty has written for publications including Fodor’s San Diego, National Geographic Adventure, New York Magazine, San Diego Magazine, and UT San Diego. She has presented at national conferences that include Museum Computer Network, Museums and the Web, and the Yeongwol International Museum Forum (Korea). She also served on the program committee for the 2012 IMLS WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital Age.

Joshua Garrett-Davis

Assistant Gamble Curator of Western History, Pop Culture, & Firearms

Expertise: History, literature, film, and music of the American West; American Indian history

Josh Garrett-Davis has researched and published on the American West since 2001. His writing has appeared in such publications as the New York Times, High Country News, South Dakota History, California History, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. He is currently a PhD candidate in U.S. history at Princeton University, researching Native American engagements with audio technology from 1890 to 1970. He has been awarded fellowships from the Huntington Library and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. His previous museum experience includes working in the communications department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and as an intern at the South Dakota State Historical Society. He is the author of the regional meditation Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains (Little, Brown, 2012), and a member of the Colorado-based art collective M12. He earned a master’s degree in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Amherst College.

Erik Greenberg, PhD

Director of Education and Visitor Engagement

Expertise: American Jewish history, U.S. history (Progressive era, Cold War), ethnic history, immigration history, the history of American consumerism, U.S. cultural and intellectual history, public history, history education

Erik Greenberg has spent more than a decade teaching historical subjects, ranging from the history of the American West to the American Jewish experience, to students from Kindergarten through college and beyond. Greenberg is a frequent contributor to a number of academic journals and has received numerous awards and honors, includingthe Whitsett Fellowship for the Study of California and the American West (CSUN), the American Jewish Archives’ Lowenstein-Wiener Research Fellowship, and LAUSD Title VII’s Person of the Year recognition award in 2012. He holds a doctorate in history from UCLA and a master’s in the same subject from UCLA and California State University–Northridge.

Stacy Lieberman

Executive Vice President and Deputy Director

Expertise: Strategic communications, museum marketing, publishing, strategic communications, institutional visioning

Stacy Lieberman leads day-to-day operations and oversees programmatic content, guiding the implementation of a visitor-centered strategic plan. Prior to assuming this role, Lieberman was the Vice President of Communications and Visitor Experience, responsible for galvanizing the Autry's communications, marketing, membership, public programs, government relations, education, and visitor services functions to improve visitor engagement and develop new audiences. Previously, Lieberman served as associate vice president of marketing and communications at California State University–Northridge, leading the effort to promote the mission, vision, reputation, and brand of CSUN. Lieberman was director of external affairs at the Skirball Cultural Center from 2001 to 2011. During her tenure, she directed the award-winning campaign to open Noah’s Ark at the Skirball. She has also held marketing/publicity positions at the Getty, Wayne State University (Detroit), St. Martin’s Press (New York), and Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston). She was recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal among Southern California “Women Making a Difference,” and her work has received awards from the American Alliance of Museums, Independent Publisher, BizBash, and the Los Angeles chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Lieberman received a bachelor’s degree cum laude in English and French from Tufts University and a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from Wayne State University.

Nancy Marie Mithlo, PhD

Chair of American Indian Studies

Expertise: Native American art, cultural anthropology, art history, visual arts

Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache) is an associate professor of art history and visual arts at Occidental College. She earned her PhD in cultural anthropology from Stanford University writing on the role of Native American artists. Mithlo’s extensive relationship with the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, includes directing the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and editing the 2011 publication Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism.She was awarded fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center. Mithlo’s curatorial work has resulted in seven exhibits at the Venice Biennale. A lifelong educator, Mithlo has taught at the University of New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Santa Fe Community College, Smith College, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Laura Purdy

Senior Media Producer

Since joining the Autry in 2011, Laura Purdy has created multimedia installations for more than thirteen exhibitions, including California Continued (2016), Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West (2015), Route 66: The Road and the Romance (2014), and Floral Journey: Native North American Beadwork (2014). The interactive media productions she created for Floral Journey garnered the 2014 Silver Medal MUSE award for Video, Film, and Computer Animation. In 2008 she served as the executive producer of interactive design, video, and application for the Center for Empowered Living and Learning. Her museum experience started in 1999 as the postproduction supervisor and assistant Avid editor at the Museum of Tolerance’s Academy Award-winning documentary film division, Moriah Films. Her personal films have screened in the U.S. and internationally at festivals and museums such as the Getty, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and Otis Gallery. Her short film π was nominated for a Student Academy Award and received a Certificate of Merit at the Chicago International Film Festival. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Indiana University and a master’s of fine arts degree in cinema production from San Francisco State University. 

Virginia Scharff

Chair of Western Women’s History

Expertise: American women’s history, gender studies, women in the West, American Civil War, history of automobiles, twentieth-century American history

Virginia Scharff is Chair of Western Women’s History at the Autry, where she served as co-curator Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West (2015)and Home Lands: How Women Made the West (2010). She is also the Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. She has published numerous books, including Taking the Wheel: Women and the Coming of the Motor Age (1991); Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the West (2003); two textbooks, Present Tense: The United States Since 1945 (1996) and Coming of Age: America in the Twentieth Century (1998); Home Lands: How Women Made the West (coauthored with Carolyn Brucken, 2010); and the edited volume Seeing Nature Through Gender (2003). In her most recent book, The Women Jefferson Loved (HarperCollins, 2010)—named a New York TimesEditor’s Choice—Scharff puts Jefferson’s free and slave families into the same story, and reveals how Jefferson’s love for women shaped his ideas, achievements, and legacies. Scharff was previously a Beinecke Research Fellow in the Lamar Center for Frontiers and Borders at Yale University from 2008 to 2009, in addition to serving as president of the Western History Association in 2008. She is also a Fellow and Executive Board Member of the Society of American Historians. Scharff has authored four mystery suspense novels, written under the name of Virginia Swift: Brown-Eyed Girl (2000), Bad Company (2002),Bye, Bye, Love (2004), and Hello, Stranger (2006). 

Amy Scott, PhD

Chief Curator
Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts

Expertise: History of the art of the American West; women in Western art; Yosemite; landscape painting

Amy Scott develops and interprets exhibitions, publications, and gallery installations with a focus on art of the American West. Her exhibitions at the Autry have included Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America’s First National Park (2004), Yosemite: Art of an American Icon (2006), Maverick Art (2008), Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe (2009), Karen Kitchel: Seasonal Overture (2012), Art of the West (2013), and New Acquisitions Featuring the Kaufman Collection (2015). Prior to joining the Autry, Scott was curatorial assistant at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City and a curator at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe. She has published several books and articles, including Yosemite: Art of an American Icon (University of California Press, 2006); Len Chmiel: An Authentic Nature (RFA Publishing, 2011); and Twenty-Nine Palms: Landscapes and Nudes by Patrick Alt (Patrick Alt Publishing, 2013). Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in art history from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in visual studies from UC–Irvine. She was awarded the Regents Fellowship at UC–Irvine in 2006 and was a Huntington Library Research Fellow in 2010.

Sarah Wilson

Education Manager

Sarah Wilson joined the Autry in 2013 and has held positions in both the curatorial and education departments. She has worked on the California Continued galleries and ethnobotanical garden; Revolutionary Vision: Group f/64 and Richard Misrach, Photographs From the Bank of America Collection (2016); and New Acquisitions Featuring the Kaufman Collection (2015). Her previous museum experience includes an internship with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and positions at the Bates College Museum of Art and Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. She holds a master’s degree in art history from Stony Brook University–SUNY, a master’s degree in arts management from American University, and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Bates College.