James M. Clark

Executive Director


Jim graduated with a master’s degree in Public Policy from New York University, and a BS in Urban Studies from the University of Southern California. He has more than thirty years’ experience in nonprofit management, having been the Executive Director of the Public Art Fund in New York City, the President & CEO of CultureWorks in Dayton, Ohio, and at LexArts here in Lexington, Kentucky. In 2014, he was honored with the Michael Newton Award from Americans for the Arts for innovation in forging arts and business partnerships, and Outstanding Individual of the Year from the Downtown Lexington Corporation. Under his leadership, the Foundation received the Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence (2020) from the Kentucky Historical Society. Jim serves on the Board of Directors of the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance and was appointed by LFUCG Mayor Jim Gray to the Public Art Commission.

Eric Brooks

Eric has a BA in Anthropology from Miami University and an MA in Museum Science from Texas Tech University. He has worked for the National Park Service as a Ranger on the National Mall and as a Curatorial Technician at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. He was Curator and Assistant Director at Liberty Hall Historic Site and has been Curator and Site Manager at Ashland since 2002. Eric is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, Southeastern Museums Conference, and the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance. He was President of the Board of Directors of the Historical Confederation of Kentucky and later the Kentucky Museum and Heritage Alliance.

Paul Bartels
Tours & Education Manager x205

Paul earned his BA in history from the University of Portland and an MA concentrated in early American history from Villanova University.  He began his career in academic publishing, working with historical primary source collections, as well as overseeing revision of college-level American government textbooks.  He earned his MAT in secondary education from the University of Portland and taught social studies, grades 7-12, in rural Oregon.  Since leaving the secondary classroom, Paul mentored student teachers and taught a variety of education courses at The University of Iowa and Cornell College.  His areas of particular interest include inquiry-based pedagogy, citizenship education, content area literacy, and historical thinking. Paul serves on the Executive Committee of the Kentucky Civic Education Coalition, an arm of the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies

Carey Murphy

Operations Manager


Carey graduated with a Ph. D. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; MA from the University of Alabama; and BA from St. Olaf College. As a career academic with a focus in 19th century American literature, his present role as Operations Manager represents a significant professional transition. Seeking new challenges, he left academia in August 2021. With interests in literature, historic preservation, and architectural history, he recognized a valuable opportunity to work at Ashland. Though classroom management and nonprofit management differ, he uses the experiences of the former to guide the latter. With further responsibility for event rentals and photography permits, he wants Ashland’s visitors to have positive experiences with, and lasting memories of, the living history of the estate.  

Phil Janes

Manager of Visitor Services


Phil graduated from the University of Louisville with a double major in Sociology and Advertising (BAS).  He pursued continuing education at the University of Tennessee and Purdue University.  He was Visitor Services and Retail Manager with the Kentucky Historical Society.  He was the Training Store Manager with specialty retailer, the Museum Company, in Indianapolis and Louisville.  At the Indiana Historical Society, he was Retail Operations Manager and co-manager of Indiana’s largest book fair, the annual Indiana Author Fair.  Phil also served on the Indiana Artisans Board, helping to select new members of the guild.  He has been a member of the Museum Store Association for fifteen years, serving three years on the Midwest MSA Board. 

Jon Nicholson
Program & Research Associate

Jon graduated from Tusculum University with a BA in History with a focus on late 18th and early 19th century material culture and Museum Studies.  While there he worked with other students to research and design the award-winning Tusculum 225 exhibit at the Andrew Johnson Museum and Library.  After college Jon worked as an independent researcher for historic property owners, as a Museum Assistant at the Doak House Museum in Greeneville, TN, and as a musician giving lessons in old time and folk music.  He moved to Lexington in July 2021 to work at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate.

Joel Damron

Grounds Manager

Joel grew up in Elkhorn City, Kentucky, where he was active in 4H as a student and a camp counselor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Technology from Eastern Kentucky University and worked for many years in automotive engineering, designing machines for factory automation.

He has been a soccer coach, a competitive sailor with the Cave Run Sailing Association, volunteer leader and Sawyer with the Red River Gorge Trail Crew, an ISA Certified Arborist, and member of the Woodford County Community Emergency Response Team & Medical Reserve Corps.

Joel enjoys camping, long-distance hiking, woodworking, homebrewing, and general tinkering. He believes that every day presents an opportunity to learn and he thrives on creating innovative solutions to unique problems.  Joel is pleased and honored to be (back) at Ashland and believes that they will be good for one another for years to come.  He welcomes and enjoys the people and pets whose feet find their way here to stroll the grounds.

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