William B. Crawley earned a BA in Latin from Hampden-Sydney College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a PhD in History from the University of Virginia, where he was a member of the Raven Society. During more than 45 years at the University of Mary Washington he has won multiple awards for excellence as a teacher. He has also been an innovator, largely responsible for founding the program in Historic Preservation, as well as the Great Lives program. He is the author of a biography titled Bill Tuck: A Political Life in Harry Byrd’s Virginia, published by the University Press of Virginia, and A Centennial History of the University of Mary Washington, published in 2008. In 2016, the Great Lives series was named in his honor.
New York Times best-selling biographer Brian Jay Jones spent nearly two decades as a public policy analyst and a speechwriter before turning to biography in 2007. Since then he has written acclaimed biographies of Washington Irving, Jim Henson, and George Lucas. He has discussed his works in various media, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Born in Kansas and reared in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Brian holds a degree in English from the University of New Mexico. He is the past president of Biographers International Organization and in 2016 was named Associate Director of the Crawley Great Lives Series. He lives with his wife in Stafford County, Virginia.
Ali Gauch Hieber returned to the University of Mary Washington in January 2016 as the Coordinator of Community Events. She manages the day-to-day operations of the Great Lives Series and coordinates commencement ceremonies for the University. Previously, Ali served as Associate Dean of Admissions at UMW and Dean of Enrollment Services at Germanna Community College. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master’s degree in Education at the University of South Carolina. Ali resides with her husband Mark, three children and a lively springer spaniel in Spotsylvania County.
Jack Bales is the longtime Reference and Humanities Librarian at UMW’s Simpson Library and serves as research consultant for the series and for the Great Lives class. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree in English from Illinois College and his master’s in library science from the University of Illinois. Although a librarian by vocation, he is a writer by avocation and is the author of a number of books and articles on his own “great lives,” including authors Horatio Alger, Kenneth Roberts, and Willie Morris. He has spent the last few years researching the history of the Chicago Cubs and has written articles on the team for Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture.
Kelly Reeder, Program Assistant for Great Lives, graduated from UMW in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Arts, and has been a part of the Great Lives team ever since. A History major, she was the Department of History and American Studies Almont Lindsey Award recipient for superior academic achievement and service to the department. When not helping Dr. Crawley with Great Lives Q&A, she supports the United States Army as an Analyst.
Courtney Kuzemchak, Student Assistant for Great Lives, is in her third year with the program. She is currently a senior at the University of Mary Washington studying Historic Preservation and Art History. A native of Pennsylvania, she looks to pursue a career in the museum field upon her graduation in May.
Megan Full, Program Assistant for Great Lives, joined Great Lives in 2016. She graduated from UMW in 2014, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In addition to assisting with Great Lives, she works for the United States Marine Corps as a Contract Specialist.