About: Staff


Laurie Block, Executive Director

Co-founder and Executive Director of Straight Ahead Pictures, Block oversees all the organization's projects including the Disability History Museum. Her work in disability history includes the four hour NPR radio series, Beyond Affliction: the Disability History Project, winner of the 1999 Robert Kennedy Radio Journalism Award, produced with Jay Allison; and currently a project for the American Masters TV series called Becoming Helen Keller. Her award-winning film, FIT: Episodes in The History of The Body, was broadcast on PBS. Block was a founding board member of the Disability History Association. She also served as an adviser to the Vermont based Community Genetics and Ethics Project. She is the parent, with John Crowley, of a child with a disability.

John Crowley, Writer and Editor

Co-founder of Straight Ahead Pictures, Crowley provides writing and editing services and a critical ear to projects developed at the Disability History Museum. He is a novelist and teaches fiction and screenwriting at Yale University. Crowley’s latest fiction novel Four Freedoms, 2009, follows Prosper Olander whose experiences in a defense industry plant in 1943-45 are inspired by documents found in the Disability History Museum’s Library.

Graham Warder, Director, Education Materials Development

Warder has worked with the Disability History Museum project since 2002. He began as its Library Cataloger and Acquisitions Director, and is now responsible for developing education curricula. As a member of the History Department at Keene State College in New Hampshire, Warder teaches disability history among other topics. Other research interests include temperance and commercial culture in antebellum America. Warder received a Ph.D in History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2000.

William Kuracina, Education Content Developer

Kuracina has worked cataloguing and selecting documents and artifacts for the Disability History Museum's Becoming Helen Keller curriculum. Kuracina is proficient in American sign language, and has extensive teaching and grant writing experience. Kuracina is a member of the History Department at Texas A&M University, Commerce. He received a Ph.D. in History from Syracuse University in May 2008.

Mary Irwin, Marketing and Development Coordinator

Irwin provides marketing and development support. She has worked in corporate marketing and non-profit development in Europe and in North America. She received a B.A. from the National University of Ireland, and pursued graduate work at New York University. She is actively involved in local history projects and brings a great calm and sense of humor to any day.

Erik Haugsjaa, Technical Director

Haugsjaa is the steady technical center of the project, the individual who develops the 'backend', and manages the web application -- the database and content management system. Haugsjaa began working with SAP staff in the late 1990's when they were making the Beyond Affliction: Disability History Project's NPR website. As the millennium turned, he helped dream into being a virtual museum. With an MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Haugsjaa is an independent software engineering consultant.

Former staff members and interns who have made important contributions are: Julia Sandy-Bailey, Erin Fahy, KC Forcier, Amanda Geno, Zach Ianazzi, Susan Levene, Sarah Rose and Kate Winans.