2017-2019 AADAS Board

We give a hearty thanks to our retiring board member: Marten Rustenburg, former newsletter editor and long-time board member.

Herman De Vries, President (2019). Herman is Professor of Germanic Languages at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has been teaching since 1997. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati and his training has included study at the Universities of Hamburg and Utrecht. At Calvin, Herman holds the Frederik Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture. He teaches a range of Dutch language courses and also regularly leads students on study trips to the Netherlands and Belgium. Herman has been active in a variety of associations related to Dutch studies. He has served as newsletter editor for AADAS. He has also co-hosted a conference of the American Association for Netherlandic Studies (AANS) as well as edited a journal of its proceedings. Currently he is also the North-American representative to the board of the Internationale Vereniging voor Neerlandici.

Rhonda Pennings, Vice-President/In-Coming President (2021). is the Dean of Arts & Science/Business and Health at Northwest Iowa Community College. She has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern College with majors in art and English. She has a master’s degree in English and a doctorate in education from the University of South Dakota.

As a member of the American Association of University Women, she is interested in promoting education and equity for women. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Network for Women in Higher Education and on the planning council for the annual Way Up Conference for women in higher education.

Currently, she has been working on her family genealogy and enjoys reading Dutch history. Both of her grandmothers immigrated from the Netherlands to America with their families.  Her ancestors hid Jews during the Holocaust and the Pennings family name is on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous located in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Henk Aay, Past-President (2019). Henk is retired from the Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies Department at Calvin College where he was a faculty member for thirty years. He holds a PhD in geography from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Currently, Henk is a senior research fellow at the Van Raalte Institute at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands at age twelve. He held the Meijer Chair in Dutch Language and Culture at Calvin from 2006-2012. He regularly leads student and other groups on educational excursions to the Netherlands with a focus on geography and environment. His research and publications cover the geography of the Netherlands, Dutch American culture and relations, cultural geography, and the history of geographical thought.

David Zwart, Treasurer (2019). I grew up in Sioux County, Iowa and graduated from Dordt College in 1999. I went west to California to teach middle school social studies in Visalia, California. While in the Central Valley of California, I completed a M.A. in history at Fresno State and wrote about the Dutch community in Hanford, California. I then continued my education at Western Michigan University where I received my Ph.D. in 2012 with a dissertation on Dutch American commemorations. After teaching at Dordt College for four years, I am currently assistant professor in the history department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan where I mostly teach future history and social studies teachers how to get the next generation excited about studying the past.

Geoffrey Reynolds, Membership Secretary (2021). Geoffrey D. Reynolds has been The Mary Riepma Ross Director of The Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College since July 2001. Previous to that, he served as its collections archivist from January 1997 to July 2001.  He graduated from Wayne State University with a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) and an Archival Administration Certificate in 1995. He has worked at various times for Infoflo as a records management specialist, for the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, for General Motors Media Archives and for Little Caesar’s Enterprises on its Detroit Tiger baseball club archival materials. He currently serves as the treasurer of the Dutch-American Historical Commission, membership chairperson for the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies, and Executive Director of the Holland Area Historical Society. His research and writing interests include the American pleasure boat building industry and vintage boat racing history.

Mary Risseeuw, Newsletter (2019). Mary has researched 19th & 20th century Dutch immigration to Wisconsin for over 25 years.  She has lectured throughout the Midwest and the Netherlands on the subject. Some of her publications include: A Phoenix Sesquicentennial Tribute: 1847-1997 (1997); I end with my pen, but not with my heart: Dutch immigrant letters, memoirs and travel journals, Editor/Compiler, (2008).  She hosted the 2011 AADAS conference in Wisconsin.  She also organized and hosted the Dutch in Wisconsin Conference in 2008; the first Dutch studies conference to focus solely on Dutch immigration to Wisconsin. She is a past AADAS board member and previously was the Development Director at the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  She has a B.S. from UW-Madison and M.A. & M.F.A. degrees from Northern Illinois University.

Stephen Staggs, at-large (2019). Stephen Staggs received a BA from Calvin College in 1994 and went on to teach European, American, and World History at the middle and high school level. In 2002 he earned a MA from Western Michigan University and in 2014 defended his PhD dissertation. He specializes in the religious and socio-cultural history of the Dutch Republic and Northeastern North America to about 1750. His research focuses on Native–European relations in general, and on the history, culture, and interaction of the Dutch with their Native and European neighbors. His research has been supported by several grants, including the “New York 400” Fulbright Grant, which allowed him to conduct dissertation research in various archives throughout the Netherlands during the 2010–2011 academic year. Currently he is an adjunct history professor at Calvin College, part-time instructor at Western Michigan University, and an editor for H-Net Low Countries whose purpose is to develop an international network for discussion and collaboration on issues and ideas relevant to the study of the Low Countries.

Michael Swanson, at-large (2021). Originally from Fulton, Illinois, I attended and graduated from Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. I then continued my schooling at The University of Iowa, obtaining a M.S. degree in chemistry. The next eighteen years were spent working as a biochemist, mainly with The Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. During this time, I became familiar with the assorted records preserved in the Netherlands and used these to research my Dutch roots in Groningen. This experience eventually led to related projects to learn more about the Dutch who settled in Whiteside County, Illinois.

Partly because of these interests, I returned to graduate school, obtaining a Master’s of Science in Information from the University of Michigan in 2007. After working for a time at the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor, I accepted my current position of Assistant Archivist at the University of North Dakota in 2008. One of my responsibilities is managing the Arne G. Brekke Bygdebok Collection, an extensive collection of local history books from Norway that are useful to people researching their Norwegian ancestry.

Michael Douma, at-large (2021).  Michael is an Assistant Research Professor and Director of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He earned a B.A. from Hope College (2004) and a M.A. and Ph.D. in history from Florida State (2011). During his undergraduate years, he worked for the Joint Archives of Holland, studied abroad in Leiden (2002-2003), and wrote a short architectural history book called Veneklasen Brick.  Before graduate school, he spent one full year working for the Van Raalte Institute, to which he returned for many summers as a research assistant to Robert Swierenga. He wrote a dissertation about Dutch American identities while living in Amsterdam on a Fulbright grant. In addition to studying the history of Dutch Americans in the Midwest, he has published articles on slavery in the Dutch world, the Dutch translation of the U.S. Constitution, and the rise of capitalism in the Netherlands. He intends on developing more research on New Netherland and building bridges between New York and the Midwest.

Janet Sheeres, at-large (2021). Janet is an independent scholar, genealogist, and freelance author who researches and writes on the subject of family, church, and Dutch emigration/immigration history. She has served as president of the Zeeland, Michigan, Historical Society, AADAS (Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies), and has served as Chairperson of the Christian Reformed Church Historical Committee.  Since she began writing about thirty years ago she has published over 75 articles in various national and international historical and genealogical journals. Her biography titled Son of Secession: Douwe J. Vander Werp, was published by Eerdmans in 2006, her book, The Not-So Promised Paradise: The Dutch Colony in Amelia, Virginia 1868-1880 was published by Eerdmans in 2013, and The 1857 to 1880 Synodical Minutes of the Christian Reformed Church, which she edited and annotated was published in 2014.  Her latest book on the wives of early CRC pastors is in the final publishing stage.  She recently became the editor of Origins, the journal of the Calvin College Heritage Hall Archives.

Janet was born in the Netherlands, speaks fluent Dutch, and has visited many of the major Dutch genealogical libraries and archives.  She has visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City over a dozen times and has taught genealogy courses for C.A.L.L. (Calvin Academy for Livelong Learning).  She spends every Monday in the Calvin College Heritage Hall translating early Christian Reformed Church council minutes from Dutch to English. She recently completed keying all the births, marriages, anniversaries, and obituaries printed in the Calvinist Contact, a Dutch-Canadian weekly, founded in 1946 by Dutch immigrants to Canada.