Eola Lewis Dance has served as a public historian for more than 20 years with the National Park Service and in the nonprofit world. As Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument, a 565-acre cultural landscape, she guided research, operations, programming, maintenance, and economic sustainability. She identified, developed, and supported state and local entities in applying for grants; served as federal lead in the planning and implementation of philanthropic partnerships; and developed and managed agreements, reporting, and coordination with the National Park Foundation in planning for major gifts and prospective donors. Most recently, she was the executive director of Black Lunch Table. Responsible for its fiscal management and strategic vision, she organized literal and metaphorical lunch tables, bringing together artists and communities in dialogue around issues of race in recent history and legacies of the past.
Her career work demonstrates a commitment to the preservation of historic buildings, cultural landscapes, and key stories in telling the history of the making of America. A recognized leader in descendant community engagement, she has led global, national, and Virginia initiatives exploring topics of freedom, race, gender, and class through research, preservation, and storytelling. Dance has also served as an interpreter, resource manager, and ethnographer, supporting other distinguished sites, including the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Park Ranger) and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (Site Manager).
Dance received a BA in History from Southern University, an MA in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a graduate certificate in Environmental Policy from The George Washington University. She is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University in US History with a minor in African Diaspora and Public History. Her research focuses on constructs of race in Colonial America, the evolution of racialized slavery, the legacy of 1619, and opportunities for healing and reconciliation within and across communities.