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.

Candace James
Director of Interpretation & Education


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.  

Gwen Cheek Spann

Retail Manager


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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