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Meet the JHS 2018 Executive Director

The Jacksonville Historical Society announced on Wednesday that Dr. Alan Bliss is the organization’s new Executive Director. Dr. Bliss has been serving as JHS’s Interim Executive Director since January 2018, succeeding Emily Retherford Lisska upon her retirement. He will begin the new position immediately.

“Through a very rigorous process, led by search committee chair Jeff Graf, Alan emerged as the clear choice to lead JHS at this important time” said Board President Pat Andrews.

“The position of executive director of the Jacksonville Historical Society is a good fit for me,” Bliss observed. “Our 2016 Strategic Plan shows that Jacksonville is positioned to significantly raise its game in terms of how it presents local history to its people and visitors. That excites me. It aligns with my experience and credentials, and with my fascination with Jacksonville and its history. Other Florida cities, such as Tampa, Orlando and St. Petersburg have set high standards in the field of local and regional history. An appetite exists across this city to, in our own way, do as those communities have done. I am eager to advance that project.”

The search committee for the new Executive Director included:

• Jeffrey Graf, Chair and Immediate Past President of the JHS
• David Chauncey, Esq.
• Michael Fackler, Esq.
• Frederick Kent III, Esq.
• Honorable Harry Reagan
• Charisse Thornton

Bliss holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. His research on modern Florida has won professional awards. In 2015 Bliss was elected to the board of the Jacksonville Historical Society. He chaired or co-chaired JHS committees for Strategic Planning, Programs, and Property Management.

Beginning in 2006, Alan Bliss taught at the University of North Florida, where his popular U.S. history courses include urban history, maritime history, and a seminar on public history—all emphasizing Jacksonville. He is also experienced in historic resource consulting, and is a sought-after public speaker.

In addition to the JHS, Bliss is a member of Jacksonville’s Downtown Vision Alliance, the Urban Land Institute (North Florida Chapter), the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association, and the Naval Order of the United States. He is an active member of Riverside Presbyterian Church, where he chairs its Property & Maintenance Committee. He also serves on the board of Fonkoze, USA, an anti-poverty and microfinance nonprofit serving Haiti. Prior to returning to higher education, he had a successful career in the real estate industry.

An experienced offshore sailor, he enjoys boating on the St. Johns River and surrounding waters.

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