July 2014 Newsletter

Meet the 2014-2016 Executive Committee

The Conference of California Historical Societies proudly installed the new Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting held June 19 - 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  Congratulations to the Executive Committee!

John Lenau, President

Andrea Blachman, First Vice President

Michael Otten, Vice President

Barbara Kimball, Secretary

John Shea, Treasurer

President's Message

As your new president of the Conference for 2014-2016, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. My wife (social secretary, financial advisor and soul mate) Allene and I will have been married for 52 years in August. We are raising our two teenage grandchildren and live in Wrightwood (WW), CA. I am the president of the WW Historical Society and have been since 1999. I was a union construction electrician in the Los Angeles area for over 40 years. During that time I was on many committees and understand the workings of business type meetings.

As president of the CCHS, I would like to make Executive Committee, Board and general membership meetings as transparent as possible. The more that you know as a member about the workings of the CCHS, the better we can make it. I want to hear from you about your ideas and concerns.

Our new 1st Vice President, Andrea Blachman and our new 2nd Vice President, Michael Otten are working with me to fill the 18 vacancies that now exist in our list of 40 possible Regional Vice Presidents (RVP) throughout the state. If you have any suggestions of potential new RVPs, please contact Andrea as she is now the coordinator of the RVPs.

We had a great time at the Annual Conference in San Pedro on June 19-21. We toured the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Space Shuttle Endeavor, plus had wonderful meals near the harbor at the 22nd St. Landing and the Ports-O’ Call restaurants. We also had workshops and a history fair plus our awards luncheon at the hotel.

Our next conference will be held in the Fort Ross area on October 23-25. This will be an outstanding event:  you don't want to miss it!  Please remind all of the members of your historical societies about this conference. I would personally like to meet all of you, so please attend.

John Lenau
President, Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(760) 249-4650


First Vice President's Message

I was honored to be installed as 1st Vice President for the Conference of California Historical Societies at the 60th Anniversary Dinner and Installation of Officers held in San Pedro in June.  My association with the Conference began in 2009 when I was asked to organize an Annual Meeting in Martinez, CA.  It proved to be a truly interesting and satisfying experience.  I found the Conference to be an organization of stimulating and congenial people committed to preserving and sharing California history by focusing and advocating on behalf of the particular and unique history of specific areas.  I was hooked!

I currently live in Martinez, CA, and for the past 12 years have served as the Volunteer Director of the Martinez Museum, a small museum dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing Martinez history.  I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Contra County Historical Society.  Both of these associations have put me in touch with other like-minded people interested and committed to preserving local, county and state-wide history. 

As 1st Vice President, I will serve as the Chair of the Regional Vice President Council and as coordinator of the Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs).  Current RVPs will be hearing from me regularly about the activities, successes, issues and challenges of their particular region. I will also be contacting the historical societies in the 18 regions that have RVP vacancies with the intent of recruiting RVPs for those areas.  In my experience, organizations are greater than the sum of their parts: collaboration and partnerships create a dynamic synergy that is stimulating and productive.  We can learn from each other, and by networking and sharing information and experiences, no one organization needs to re-create the wheel.  

Please contact me if you have questions and/or suggestions about how we can help each other, especially if you are interested in becoming an active part of the CCHS Regional Vice Presidents' Council.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Andrea Blachman
1st Vice President, Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(925) 387-5385

Second Vice President's Message

Greetings and a call for help from the new kid on the executive team and as a Regional Vice President (Region 8: Sierra Gateway, comprising Placer, Nevada, Sierra, Sutter and Yuba Counties).

I was elected and installed at the 60th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles (San Pedro) in June. I appreciate the opportunity to serve and to continue with the revitalization of this important and much needed organization. I am joining John Lenau and Andrea Blachman to make sure the CCHS's current 40 regions are represented. To make the task easier, we have agreed to do our best to find Vice Presidents for 18 regions that are not currently represented or need a replacement.

My task is to find an RVP for:

  • No. 2 Mendo-Lake (Mendocino and Lake Counties)
  • No. 3 Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity Counties
  • No. 4 Range and River (Butte, Colusa, Glenn and Tehama Counties)
  • No. 5 Northeast Corner (Lassen, Modoc and Plumas Counties)
  • No. 6 Sonoma and Marin Counties
  • No. 9 San Francisco County

The Regional Vice Presidents are an important part of our mission to preserve California history by unifying and strengthening historical organizations throughout the state.

It is my belief that by building the RVP structure, we will also build membership. Please contact me to see how you can help.

Now the personal stuff: I have more than 40 years of wide-ranging, award-winning journalism experience, most of it at The Sacramento Union, where I last served as Capitol Bureau Chief. I regularly wrote columns on politics and on recreational running (1957-1992). I also worked with the Bakersfield Californian and was a freelance journalist for Reuters news service, United Press International, Associated Press, Spectrum Newspapers, Andrews Publications, Beverage Bulletin, Beverage Industry News, BrewPub Magazine, Capitol Morning Report and others.

I was also professionally active, serving as president of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Central California Chapter as well as its Freedom of Information chairman, assisting in putting out a guide to state open meeting and public record laws and putting on journalism conferences. I was also President of the Sacramento and Central California Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO) and chaired Page 1 Ball at Tuesday Club. I was a longtime board member of the Sacramento Press Club and the Capitol Correspondents Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors.

From journalism, I eased into a full time adventure as a volunteer, primarily in the realm of doing free tax returns in the AARP Tax Aide program, libraries and history.

Other details: I am a 3rd generation Placer County and California resident, married with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I have been the president of Placer County Historical Society since 2005, longtime runner.

Memberships: Placer County Library Advisory Board (past chairman), Placer County Visitors Bureau Board (California Welcome Center), California Historical Society, Placer County Historical Organizations Committee, Sacramento County Historical Society and several other history groups, Book Club of California, Washington Lodge No. 20, F. & A.M., Sierra Club, Friends of Auburn Library (past president and life member), California State Parks Association, Tahoe Rim Trail Association, Pacific Crest Trail Association, California Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Nature Conservancy, Auburn Chamber Forum, and Sacramento Crime Alert (former board member).

Michael Otten
2nd Vice President, Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(530) 888-7837

Russian and Alaskans and Kashaya, Oh My! 

Exploring Fort Ross

Fort Ross, located on California’s Sonoma County Coast, has a fascinating history as a multicultural, multiethnic community, consisting of Russians, Siberians, Native Alaskans and Kashaya and Miwok tribes.  Learn more about why Fort Ross is so special, both when it was founded in 1812 as well as today.  Watch the video below to learn more:


2014 Fall Symposium Hotel Announced!

Hotel Accommodations:
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot
1101 Gravenstein Hwy S.
Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 829-2618

Standard King: $147/night + tax
Standard Queen (2): $157/night + tax
Hotel rates include complimentary breakfast and parking!

Reservation deadline: September 23, 2014
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Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.