About Us

Our services provided at the DeKalb County History Center are possible due to the dedicated teamwork among 

staff, volunteers, and board members.

Meet Our Leadership

Michelle Donahoe headshot

Michelle Donahoe is the Executive Director of the DeKalb County History Center and appointed DeKalb County Historian in 2020. She played a key role in the initial discussions of a county museum to the official creation of the DeKalb County History Center in 2018, as well as completing the $1.6 million “History Matters” Capital Campaign to fund a new 7,600 building.

Previously, Donahoe served as Executive Director of the Sycamore History Museum for 13 years, (until it transitioned to the History Center). Her prior work experiences include research assistant, volunteer coordinator, archivist, and educator, with employment at large institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago and Newberry Library as well as local historical societies in Wheaton and Geneva.

Actively involved in the local nonprofit community, Donahoe is Chair of the Steering Committee for the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History as well as a Master’s in Public History, with concentration in museum education from Loyola University in Chicago. In 2019, she was elected to the Illinois Association of Museums board of directors.

In looking to the future, Donahoe’s vision for the History Center’s is strongly connected to the mission, “Inspiring curiosity in DeKalb County’s history.” She sees the potential for significant impact due to the creativity and commitment of the board, members, volunteers, and community supporters. Even during these unique and historical times, she believes that building upon the History Center’s solid foundation will provide many opportunities for collaboration, partnerships, and inspiration.

Board Members

John Boies, Sycamore
Kevin Bunge, Clare
Steve Faivre, Sycamore
Dave Finney, Sycamore
Bill Lenschow, Sycamore
Tom Matya, DeKalb
Carol Meeks, Sycamore
Orrin Merrit, Genoa

Bob Pritchard, Hinckley
Anna Schelkopf, Sycamore
Jill Tritt, Sycamore
Jamie Walter, DeKalb

Ex Officio
City of Sycamore
DeKalb County

Mission

DeKalb County History Center inspires curiosity in DeKalb County’s history by gathering, exploring, and inspiring people.

Vision

DeKalb County History Center will explore the diverse stories that are part of our county’s history; gather people together through exhibits, programs, and research; and inspire people to apply this knowledge to enlighten the decisions of tomorrow.

DeKalb County History Center is also committed to building the capacity of local organizations by providing resources and opportunities for collaboration.

Our Goals:

Collection

The collection would reflect the significant stories of DeKalb County through artifacts and archival materials.
 

Education

Engage and inspire visitors through programming and exhibits based in solid research.
 

Preservation

Caring for artifacts and archival materials in ways that meet best practices.
 

Research

Share historical resources in person and on-line with researchers locally, nationally, and internationally.
 

Partnerships

Build strategic collaborations with local history organizations to promote, enhance, and expand upon concepts connected to DeKalb County history.
 

Funding

Secure resources county wide for a sustainable future.

Our Campus:

The DeKalb County History Center segued from Sycamore History Museum in 2018 and provides a county-wide emphasis with its mission and vision. The new building is situated on the Engh Farm property.

 

Joiner History Room is resident in the new DeKalb County History Center building and continues in the mission to provide county-wide preservation and historical research support.

 

Sycamore Fire Preservation Company houses their 1923 Stuz Fire Truck in the garage previously used for programming by the Sycamore History Museum.