Our Mission

The purpose of Napa County Historical Society is to discover and keep history alive through exhibits, lectures, and events, as well as research, publications, and educational activities. As a membership and sponsorship-based archival and educational organization, the Society is dedicated to the discovery, preservation and presentation of the people and history of Napa County and its place in California history and the world.

Board of Directors

Brad Wagenknecht


Brad Wagenknecht has been a school teacher since 1977. During the first 10 years of his teaching career he taught emotionally disturbed adolescents. Since 1987 Brad has been teaching social studies at Redwood / Silverado Middle School in Napa. In recent years, he has taught part-time in Special Education and kindergarten. Brad graduated from a local high school in Napa and went on to graduate from the University of California-Santa Cruz with a degree in Political Science and Elementary Education. Brad has split his time teaching with public service since 1984, when he was elected to the Napa City Council. He has also served as Mayor to the City of Napa. In 1998 he was elected to the Napa County Board of Supervisors and began serving as the representative for District 1 in January 1999.

Brad grew up in the Browns Valley area of Napa and has three children: Gretchen, Fritz, and Max. Gretchen is a city planner and manages a retail clothing store in Petaluma. Fritz attends college in San Diego. Max is a full-time student at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Brad runs 300 days a year and plays basketball religiously. He spends his free time attending his kids’ sporting events and performances.

Danielle Barrecca

Vice President

Danielle was born and raised in Napa and is a Vintage High graduate. After high school Danielle attended California State University, Sacramento where she received her BA in History.
Danielle has leadership experience as a Past President of the Rotary Club of North Napa and a Leadership Napa Valley Class 29 Graduate. She currently serves on the Leadership Napa Valley Board of Directors. In 2016 Danielle completed her FEMA training to become a member of Napa’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and she enjoys continuing her education and training in Emergency Preparedness. In 2018, Danielle was appointed to the City of Napa’s 2040 General Plan Advisory Committee which will work on updating the City’s vision for land use, housing, transportation, parks and recreation, historic resources, and economic development.

Danielle is a local real estate Broker working with buyers and sellers throughout Napa County. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, reading and spending time with her family.

Sandy Re Sims

Secretary Treasurer

Sandy and her husband Gordon moved to Napa in 2016 from Green Valley though she has been working and volunteering in Napa since 2001. Growing up in San Rafael she attended Sir Francis Drake High School, then continued her studies at Sacramento State, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in US History and English Literature. Her aspirations were to be a High School History teacher, but found herself in banking for 44 years, retiring as Vice President of Bank of Napa. Sandy is very well known for her volunteer work and has been recognized for her leadership, notably with NEWS and  Aldea.  Additionally, she’s been a member and volunteer for NCHS. Sandy’s letter of interest to join the NCHS Board stated, “Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve on the Napa County Historical Society Board of Directors.  As you know, my degree is in History and my passion is Napa, so this position is the answer to my prayers!”

Liz Alessio

Liz Alessio


When Liz talks about her family’s deep connection to Napa, she can back it up with the fact they have lived in Napa Valley for over 140 years. Her great-great grandfather, Mathias Vandeleur, a master stone mason built several of Napa Valley’s most famous landmarks including the Stag’s Leap Home and Catholic Church in St. Helena. Her great Aunt Martha Vandeluer, the first female school Principal in Napa County, is remembered by a park located in the heart of Yountville.

Liz was introduced to the Napa County Historical Society in the 1980’s through her parents who both served on the Board. Her mother, Robin Hart, was the longest standing Board President and her father, Lee Hart, was a well-known local historian. Liz with the family passion for local history joined the Board in 2016 then became the interim Executive Director in June of 2019 to March of 2021. Liz is back on the Board and thrilled to be the Board President starting June 2021. Liz received her degree in Communications after raising her 3 children in Napa. She is well known around the community for her charity work and is currently a Napa City Councilmember.   

Scott Sedgley

Board Member

Raised in Napa, Scott Sedgley graduated from Napa High School in 1970. He completed a four year apprenticeship in carpentry, spending 13 years working as a union carpenter. His next opportunity was working for the Napa Fire Department. Starting as a Reserve Firefighter, Scott worked 32 years with the department, retiring as a Truck Captain in 2011.

Scott’s community involvement includes 25 years as a docent at Bale Grist Mill State Historical Site, four years on Napa’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and serving nine years as a board member with the Napa Valley Unified School District. He currently serves on the boards of the Napa County Historical Society and the Foundation for Napa Recreation. Scott is a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, Napa Elks Lodge, Land Trust of Napa County and the Sierra Club. Even after retirement, Scott continues to serve his city as an elected member of Napa’s City Council. Scott and his wife Linda were married in 1975 at Napa’s First United Methodist Church

Don Winter

Don Winter

Board Member

Don Winter has served as a nationally recognized Hotel & Restaurant Consultant for the past 40 years, primarily specializing in Dispute Resolution. His first economic research assignment in Napa County Lodging began in 1973 and he continues to assist local hotels and restaurants to this day. A graduate of Cornell University, Don has served as President and/or Board Member of numerous charitable and professional organizations throughout the Bay Area. His dark side is sated through his secondary career as a professional humorist and M.C. for events throughout the United Sates.

He and his wife Katherine moved to Napa full-time in 2000 and are enthusiastic world travelers. They are members of the Native Plant Society and Land Trust of Napa County and spend many weekends hiking the unlimited back trails of this wondrous and blessed County.

Hanna Housley

Board Member

Hannah Housley is an experienced Activities Director with a demonstrated history of working in the primary/secondary education industry. She is skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Coaching, Classroom Management, Curriculum Development, and Public Speaking. Strong administrative professional with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), History focused in History from Norco High School and Pepperdine University. Currently, Hannah is in a graduate program for Organizational Leadership. In the past, Hannah has worked with Napa Valley Unified School District, Vintage High School, Vintage Elementary School, and Napa High School. 

Gordon Huether

Board Member

Gordon Huether specializes in the creation of public and privately commissioned artwork, and also creates fine art. Huether’s large-scale and privately commissioned work is always site-specific. During his conceptual phase, Huether conducts expansive research in order to deliver an artwork design that is unique to the specific location and connects to historical, geographical, social, economic, ethical, religious etc. characteristics. He founded his professional business and art studio in 1987.

Gordon Huether has been the permanent artist in residence at Artesa Vineyards & Winery since 1997. One of the first pieces Huether completed was a series of sculptures made from a composite of resin, fiberglass and powdered aluminum for the fountain at the vineyard’s entrance. Artesa Vineyards & Winery features a rotating exhibit of Gordon Huether’s sculptural and fine art work. A selection of Gordon Huether’s fine art work is on display in St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery’s gallery space since Fall 2014.

Margaret Wong

Board Member

Margaret is both a state and local entrepreneur, dedicated to building U.S.-China relations. Her company McWong International has established numerous companies and businesses including her restaurant Empress M, in Napa. Currently, Margaret sits on the Board of the California Chamber of Commerce and is a member of Committee 100. Her passion for economics and finance, as well as trade connections and philanthropy, have garnered her many accolades from the Governor on down. Margaret divides her time between Napa, Sacramento, and China.
Margaret brings to the NCHS Board regional and international connections as well as a keen understanding of finance and philosophy.

Laura Orozco

Board Member

Laura Orozco grew up in the heart of Napa Valley, surrounded by grapes. Her father literally broke his back working in the vineyards so she wanted nothing to do with agriculture, she wanted a better quality of life. Laura — the first in her family to graduate from college — had plans to join the medical profession. After graduating from The University of California at Santa Cruz with a Molecular Biology degree, she returned to Napa to prepare for the MCAT. While staying focused on her studies, she obtained a harvest-season lab assistant position at Franciscan Estate Winery. She was immediately intrigued by the complexity of winemaking. After harvest, Laura’s seasonal position turned into a full-time job. That promotion marked the end of her medical school path and the beginning of her wine career.

After 6 years at Franciscan Estate, Laura moved on to become an enologist at V. Sattui Winery and was ultimately promoted to winemaker. Over the course of her career, Laura has gained deep experience across 15 plus varietals and genuinely loves the varied dynamics of winemaking. In 2015, Laura joined the team at Chimney Rock Winery as Assistant Winemaker. Today, Laura works alongside General Manager and Winemaker Elizabeth Vianna crafting the winery’s signature Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Laura fell in love with Chimney Rock 10 years earlier – her husband was a cellar worker at the winery. When the opportunity came to join the team, she immediately jumped in. Coming full circle, Laura’s original dislike of agriculture is now one of the elements she most enjoys. Working in the vineyard has become a pleasure and an honor.

Tom Fuller

Board Member

Tom Fuller brings over 30 years of experience to the wine country public relations arena, and has worked on a broad spectrum of projects, while remaining primarily within the food, beverage and hospitality arenas. Tom brings a unique combination of local expertise and national/international media savvy to any project he undertakes.

Tom has been responsible for regional, national and international media efforts for such wine county entities including wineries Shafer Vineyards, Far Niente, Dolce, Nickel & Nickel, Cardinale, Lokoya, and many others. In projects related to the overall branding of the Napa Valley, Tom has represented Oxbow Public Market since its opening, provided media relations for BottleRock Napa Valley since its inception, and also works with Blue Note Napa and the Town of Yountville.

A strong force in his portfolio is a commitment to much needed non-profit charities. Tom worked with the Land Trust of Napa County, promoting their efforts in the acquisition of the Wildlake Ranch, over 3000 acres of pristine ridge land in the upper Napa Valley, ensuring this land will remain unspoiled for generations to come. Tom managed the Napa Valley Academy Awards Benefit for local HIV services for eight years, was on the Napa Humane Board of Directors for 12 years and has been a board member of Hands Across the Valley for over 20 years, supporting Napa’s safety-net food programs.

Tom Fuller sipping a glass of wine.

Monica Hunter

Board Member

Kelly Wallace

Board Member

Kelly Wallace
Kim Hester Williams

Kim Hester Williams

Board Member

Kim teaches English and American Multicultural Studies at Sonoma State University. Her passion for literature makes her courses extremely popular, especially her American Gothic and Horror Film class. Dr. Williams is also known for her published work on race and environmentalism, Race Ecologies. Kim serves on the Executive Editorial Team for Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers.
Kim lives in American Canyon with her two daughters and together the family is involved in the local music and theater.

Kim brings to the NCHS Board both diversity of Napa Valley representation and breadth of experience at the collegiate level.

Emeritus Board

Robin Hart

Jim Treadway

Tom Spaulding


Sheli Smith

Executive Director

Sheli was born and raised in Napa and graduated from Justin-Siena High School. She went on to study Anthropology at the University of Arizona, eventually specializing in Maritime Archaeology she received her Masters from Texas A&M University and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.  Sheli worked in maritime museums doing research and curation, returning to California to work with California State Parks in the study and preservation of the state’s maritime heritage. 

In 2000, Sheli joined the PAST Foundation, a non-profit focused on developing new and engaging educational models in response to changing workforce needs around the world. After twenty years of developing programs and professional development, Sheli has returned home to the Valley.

Sheli actively participates in a number endeavors that reflect her passion for Education, the Arts, and Anthropology including California’s State Parks Diving Advisory, Ohio’s Shadowbox Live Educational Advisory, and the international Advisory Council for Underwater Archaeology.

Kelly O’Connor

Research Librarian

Kelly was raised in Petaluma and has always been interested in history. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies at CSU Monterey Bay, and earned a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University in 2019. She feels honored to be a new member of NCHS’s Goodman Fellowship program as she works towards her Arrangement & Description certificate through the SAA.