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For Immediate Release

January 26, 2017

Paul M. Pressly Named Director Emeritus of the

Ossabaw Island Education Alliance

New Officers & Trustees announced for Ossabaw Island Foundation

Ossabaw Island, GA (January 26, 2017) Dr. Paul M. Pressly has been named Director Emeritus of the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance by the Ossabaw Island Foundation Board of Trustees. The appointment was announced on January 12 at the Ossabaw Island Foundation annual meeting.

Pressly has served as Director of the Alliance since 2005. He is an award-winning historian who has conducted extensive research on the colonial and post-revolutionary history of Georgia, with an emphasis on coastal Georgia and Ossabaw Island.

Under Pressly’s leadership, the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance led or collaborated on several key initiatives including:

Ossabest (2007 -2010). The Alliance led the installation of a wireless network on Ossabaw Island; collaborated with Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to create a network of data collecting sensors, monitors, and observatory web-cameras on Ossabaw; and worked with Armstrong State University to devise a $1.1 million grant-funded program for Savannah-Chatham County middle school students and teachers.

African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: 2008 symposium and 2010 book. Pressly and the Alliance coordinated this symposium, bringing ten leading historians in African American history together to present original research to an audience of 450 people over three days. Those papers were revised and expanded, and compiled into an award-winning book published by University of Georgia Press.

Teacher workshops on colonial and antebellum history from 2009 - 2013, focusing on Ossabaw and coastal Georgia, for Middle-school, High school, and university level teachers and professors.

Moon River District. Since 2013, Pressly has led a leadership team of seven historic and visitor sites in the southern portion of Chatham County to create the Moon River District, a promotional and marketing effort to focus attention on the interrelated educational and visitor opportunities in the area generally surrounding the Moon River.

Prior to serving as Director of the Education Alliance, Pressly was Headmaster of Savannah Country Day School from 1983 until 2004. He earned a BA in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard University, and a Ph. D. in History from Oxford University.

In his new role as Director Emeritus, Pressly’s focus will shift away from program development and leadership, and will concentrate on original historical research that reveals "the voices and mystery of Ossabaw Island" and Georgia's coast.

As Director Emeritus, Pressly’s first project will be the completion of Coastal Nature, Coastal Culture: Environmental Histories of the Georgia Coast, a book based on the symposium of the same name that was hosted by the Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance in 2016. Pressly served as director of the symposium and is co-editor of the book, which is scheduled for publication by University of Georgia Press in 2018.

The Education Alliance is a collaboration between the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Ossabaw Island Foundation to encourage and support use of Ossabaw Island by colleges, universities and researchers from across the state and around the world.

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Ossabaw Island Foundation welcomes new officers and trustees for 2017

At the Ossabaw Island Foundation’s annual meeting on January 12, Lisa White of Savannah was inducted for a two-year term as Chair of the Ossabaw Island Foundation Board of Trustees, succeeding outgoing chair William “Ted” Moore of Savannah, who continues on the board for one year as Past Chair.

Also announced was the election of Mike English of Savannah as Board of Trustees Treasurer for a two-year term, succeeding outgoing Treasurer Chris Kirkpatrick of Savannah. John Manly of Savannah continues as Secretary.

Newly elected first-term Trustees who began terms in January are: Clark Alexander, Savannah; Patricia Barmeyer, Atlanta; Bryan Schroeder, Atlanta; and Gail Smith, Pin Point. Trustees elected for a second term beginning in January are: Jenny Lynn Bradley, Savannah; and Ruth Knox, Macon.

Comprised of 19 members, the board paid special thanks to outgoing Trustees Steve Sanderson, Chris Kirkpatrick, Hanif Haynes, and Seth Goodman, all of Savannah.

ABOUT THE OSSABAW ISLAND EDUCATION ALLIANCE: The Ossabaw Island Education Alliance brings colleges and universities to study and learn from the rich heritage found on the 26,000 acres of Ossabaw Island. The Education Alliance fosters exceptional educational, cultural and scientific programs and resources for students, teachers, researchers in science, ecology, and history, and other educators engaged in active learning experiences. Its aim is to make Ossabaw Island a nationally recognized education program focusing on many disciplines. It is a partnership between the Ossabaw Island Foundation, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the Board of Regents.

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Armstrong History Professor Dr. Mark A. Finlay

Honored Posthumously as Ossabaw Fellow

SAVANNAH, Ga. (Jan. 14, 2014) – The Ossabaw Island Foundation recently honored the late Armstrong Atlantic State University History professor Dr. Mark A. Finlay as an Ossabaw Fellow at the non-profit organization’s annual meeting on Jan. 9, 2014 in Savannah, Ga.

At the time of his death in October of 2013, Dr. Finlay was completing research for a book on the environmental history of coastal Georgia, with emphasis on Ossabaw Island, Ga. As part of that research, he interviewed members of Ossabaw Island’s first Genesis Project at a 40-year reunion in 2010. Just a month before he died, he traveled to Plains, Ga. to interview former President Jimmy Carter as part of his Ossabaw research.

“What made Mark so exceptional is that he brought a brilliant mind for research, an excellent writing ability and a remarkable gift for telling an engaging story,” said Paul Pressly, director of The Ossabaw Island Educational Alliance. “He was able to make the past real and meaningful to everyone -- scholars and schoolchildren, academics and amateurs -- and to make us all feel a little bit more connected to our history and to each other.”

Dr. Finlay’s work will serve as the centerpiece for an environmental history symposium being organized by the Ossabaw Island Education Alliance, scheduled for 2016. Dr. Finlay was enthusiastic about the upcoming symposium and served as co-chair of its planning committee at the time of his death.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Finlay earned respect as an exceptional scholar and gifted professor,” said Armstrong president Dr. Linda M. Bleicken, who also serves on the board of directors for The Ossabaw Island Foundation. “It’s important to honor his remarkable legacy and his invaluable contribution to our understanding of Ossabaw Island’s unique place in environmental history.”

In 2008, The Ossabaw Island Foundation established the Ossabaw Fellow academic prize, which is awarded to a scholar who has completed a significant body of work relating to, and inspired by, Ossabaw Island. Since its inception, two other Ossabaw Fellows have been designated: Dr. Allison Dorsey, for her research on the post-civil war reconstruction period on Ossabaw Island, and Dr. Stephen Darcy for The Marshes of Glynn.


Media Advisory

Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance

Annual Meeting and 100th Birthday Celebration of Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey West

What: The Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance host their Annual Meeting and a celebration of the 100th birthday of Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey West. A highlight of the meeting will be “Live from Ossabaw Island: A Video Conversation with Sandy West.” Other presenters: Hanif Haynes on the Pin Point Heritage Museum, and Mark Finlay on Ossabaw and Georgia’s Environmental Movement, 1960 – 1978.

When: Thursday, January 10, 2013 6:00p.m. Reception. 7:00p.m. Annual Meeting. 8:00p.m. Adjourn for birthday cake.

Program Details: At the annual meeting, The Ossabaw Island Foundation (TOIF) will thank departing board members and officers, and welcome newly elected board members and officers.

- Hanif Haynes, a TOIF board member now associated with the Pin Point Heritage Museum, will discuss the newly opened museum at the site of the former Varn’s Oyster Factory.

- Dr. Mark Finlay, a history professor at Armstrong, will discuss his upcoming book about the 20th century environmental movement in coastal Georgia, and Ossabaw’s role in that movement.

- The meeting will end with a live video conference/conversation with Sandy West, the longest resident of Ossabaw Island, who turns 100 on January 17, 2013. In the 1970s Sandy spearheaded her family’s sale of Ossabaw Island to the state of Georgia, and the island’s establishment as Georgia’s first State Heritage Preserve. Her vision of Ossabaw Island as a place where unspoiled nature can be experienced, studied, and interpreted, continues today in the work of the State of Georgia and the Ossabaw Island Foundation and Education Alliance. Sandy will “Skype” in from her home on Ossabaw Island.

- After the meeting, birthday cake in honor of Sandy will be served.

Where: The Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm Street, Savannah, GA 31401

For Immediate Release


“Unmasking My Gullah Heritage: A Sense of Self and Place”

A presentation by Emory Campbell

Decatur Book Festival

Saturday, September 4, 2010

3:00 – 3:45 p.m.

Decatur City Hall Stage

Decatur, Georgia

FREE Admission

Emory Campbell, chairman of the Gullah Geechee Corridor Commission and a board member of the Ossabaw Island Foundation, will present “Unmasking My Gullah Heritage: A Sense of Self and Place” at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 4 at the Decatur City Hall, as part of the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia.

Billed as the largest independent book festival in the U.S., the Decatur Book Festival features more than 300 authors and draws an estimated 80,000 people to free lectures and book events at venues throughout downtown Decatur each Labor Day weekend.

Campbell is one of eleven contributors to the UGA Press book African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: The Atlantic World and the Gullah Geechee, published in early 2010 and produced with the support of The Ossabaw Island Education Alliance. He is also the author of Gullah Cultural Legacies. His Decatur Book Festival comments will draw on his essay in the UGA Press book. Both books will be available for purchase, and Campbell will sign books after his lecture.

News Release/For Immediate Release,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ossabaw Island’s Boarding House Receives Statewide Preservation Award

from Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

ATLANTA, Ossabaw Island’s Boarding House received an award for Excellence in Restoration from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation at its 33rd annual Preservation Awards ceremony held April 9 in Rome, Georgia.

The 4,000 square-foot Boarding House was built on Ossabaw Island in 1918 during an era when the island was used as a hunting retreat by its owners, the partners of Savannah’s Strachan Shipping Company.

In 2004, the Ossabaw Island Foundation embarked on the restoration of the Boarding House after it suffered more than 20 years of neglect and deterioration.

With the conclusion of the restoration project in October 2009, the Boarding House now offers an upstairs apartment for an on-island coordinator in addition to four semi-private rooms for researchers, teachers, artists, students and others working on Ossabaw.

For more than 30 years, the Trust has recognized preservation projects and individuals in the state who have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented on the basis of the contributions of the person or project to the community and/or state and on compliance to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

Awards in the Excellence in Restoration category recognize exemplary restoration of historic structures. An accurate restoration project depicts the form, features and character of a historic building as it appeared at a particular period of time. Restoration requires sensitive upgrading of mechanical systems and other code-required work to make the building functional. This year the Trust presented five Excellence in Restoration awards.

Founded in 1973, The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust is committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia’s communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all.

To learn more about The Georgia Trust and the Preservation Awards, visit

News Release/For Immediate Release

Wednesday March 31, 2010

Ossabaw a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant Winner!

WASHINGTON, DC- The Ossabaw Island Foundation and the Education Alliance has been awarded a $40,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the interpretation of the North End Plantation site on Ossabaw Island. This very competitive process includes peer review, specialist review and deliberation by the National Council on the Humanities and the Office of the Chairman.

Continuity & Change: African American Life and Culture of the Barrier Island of GA: 1760-1900 has been designated a National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” project. The goal of the “We the People” initiative is to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture through the support of projects that explore significant events and themes in our nation’s history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.

News Release/For Immediate Release,

Savannah, GA – March 9, 2010.

Interpreting the Gullah/Geechee Heritage in the 21st Century

How do you share an island and a culture without destroying it? This is the problem facing the lowcountry's unique Gullah/Geechee culture and coastal treasures like Ossabaw Island. As part of an ongoing effort to tell the story of the richly unique environment and cultures of the coastal area, the Georgia Historical Society and the Ossabaw Island Foundation, with support from the City of Savannah, present Interpreting the Gullah/Geechee Heritage in the 21st Century at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, March 18, 2010, at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum Annex (460 Martin Luther King Blvd.), Savannah. The event is free and open to the public.

The event features a presentation by Emory Campbell, Chairman of the national Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission and one of eleven contributors to African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: The Atlantic World and the Gullah Geechee, a new book from the University of Georgia Press, which will debut at this event. The book is an outgrowth of the 2008 symposium hosted by the Ossabaw Education Alliance, The Ossabaw Island Foundation, Georgia Historical Society and other partners that focused on African-American history in coastal Georgia. The papers presented at that Savannah conference make up most of the chapters in the new book. Emory Campbell’s presentation will be followed by a moderated question-and-answer discussion with Jeanne Cyriaque and Jamal Touré, members of the Corridor Commission. The program will focus on the influence of Gullah Geechee culture on Coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry, and the preservation of that culture through education.

Emory Campbell is a native of Hilton Head Island. Campbell’s essay, “A Sense of Self and Place: Unmasking My Gullah Cultural Heritage” is the book’s final chapter. Here he maintains that, “today’s challenge for Gullah-Geechee people is not the deliberate masking of cultural qualities…, but preserving these cultural assets in the face of natural acculturation…. The question is whether we will continue to embrace primarily our Gullah culture or whether we will abandon ours and embrace that of the outsider. I am hoping for the merging of the two worlds, distinguishable, yet whole and unmasked with a sense of self and place.”

The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor was designated by Congress in 2006 and extends from Wilmington, N.C. in the north to Jacksonville, Fl. in the south. It is home to one of America's most unique cultures, a tradition first shaped by captive Africans brought to the southern United States from West Africa and continued in later generations by their descendents. The Corridor Commission is a body made up of 15 members and 10 alternates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Administered by the National Park Service, the commission is legislated to preserve and interpret the community’s pride in its history and traditions and to provide educational and inspirational opportunities that invite the public and residents to visit and learn about an important aspect of American culture.

News Release/For Immediate Release

March 15, 2010

Interiors Conservation of the Torrey West House

OSSABAW ISLAND, The Torrey West house on Ossabaw Island, built in 1926, has remained almost unchanged in the 51 years since Nell and Henry Torrey built and furnished it. Like the unspoiled island surrounding it, the house’s mostly untouched condition presents unique opportunities for studying furnishings and interiors of nearly 100 years ago. Yet, the fragility of the home’s contents also presents challenges for their preservation and maintenance.

In January, 2010 undergrads, grad students and professionals in furniture conservation and historic preservation spent twelve days on Ossabaw. This “Preventative Conservation Workshop” was a credited short course sponsored by the Art Conservation Masters Degree Program, at the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, one of only four such programs in the U.S.

Led by David Bayne, Genesis Project alumnus and a conservator for the State of New York, the students conducted an assessment of the furnishings of the Torrey West House, established “Best Practices” for care and maintenance of the furnishings, and deep cleaned the Living Room, the Sun Room, and the Dining Room using those Best Practices.

Additional instruction was provided by an architectural conservator, Matt Webster and a textiles specialist, Patricia Silence from Colonial Williamsburg.

Bayne hopes that this Preventative Conservation Workshop will be held annually on Ossabaw Island. Check out the workshop blog by Rose Daly, a participant in this inaugural workshop. Rose Daly Blog

News Release/For Immediate Release

January 29, 2010

Dr. Steven Darsey Announced as

2010 Ossabaw Fellow Award Recipient:

Composer of The Marshes of Glynn Oratorio

SAVANNAH, GA Dr. Steven Darsey of Atlanta has been selected by The Ossabaw Island Foundation as the 2010 recipient of the Eleanor “Sandy” West Ossabaw Fellowship.

The Ossabaw Fellowship recognizes professionals in any creative or academic discipline whose endeavors relate to, or are inspired by, Ossabaw Island.

Darsey is a conductor and a composer of over 100 musical works for various combinations of voices and instruments. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Yale School of Music. Since 1986 Darsey has served as Director of Music for Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he leads a comprehensive parish music program. He also serves as Artistic Director for Meridian Herald, a nonprofit organization supporting worship and culture.

His most recent composition is The Marshes of Glynn, an oratorio for symphonic orchestra, soloists and large chorus, based on the seminal poem by 19th century Georgia poet Sidney Lanier. Darsey, a Georgia native, has researched and worked on this composition for over twenty years. In his musical setting, Darsey explores the profound cultural and theological insights Lanier drew from Georgia’s marshes and coastal environs.

In 2006 and 2009, Darsey spent time on Ossabaw Island as an artist in residence researching and composing The Marshes of Glynn. A performance reading of an earlier version was given at Glenn Church, March 2, 2008 with the Glenn Chancel Choir, the Meridian Chorale, soloists, piano and organ. In 2009 he completed the orchestration for the oratorio, and is exploring various opportunities for its orchestral premier.

As the 2010 Ossabaw Fellow, Darsey receives an honorarium and a one-week guest residency on Ossabaw Island.

The Eleanor “Sandy” West Ossabaw Fellowship was established in 2008 by the Ossabaw Island Foundation, to honor Ossabaw Island’s longest known resident and supporter. Eleanor “Sandy” West, established and operated the Ossabaw Island Project and the Genesis Project on Ossabaw Island in the 1970’s and 1980’s. She was instrumental in her family’s decision to make a bargain sale of Ossabaw Island to the State of Georgia in 1978 for use as the state’s first Heritage Preserve. West, 97, has lived on the island full time since 1986.


News Release/For Immediate Release

January 29, 2009

Allison Dorsey Announced as

First Ossabaw Fellow Award Recipient

(Savannah) Dr. Allison Dorsey has been selected by The Ossabaw Island Foundation as the first recipient of the Eleanor “Sandy” West Ossabaw Fellowship. Dorsey is an Associate Professor of History, and Coordinator of Black Studies, at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Dorsey’s most recent paper “‘The great cry of our people is Land!’: Black Settlement and Community Development on Ossabaw Island, 1865-1900” discusses her research on the lives of African American freedmen on Ossabaw Island and in coastal Georgia in the decades after emancipation.

As the Ossabaw Fellow, Dorsey will receive an honorarium and a one-week residency on Ossabaw Island.

The Eleanor “Sandy” West Ossabaw Fellowship was established in 2008 to honor Ossabaw Island’s longest known resident and supporter. West established and operated the Ossabaw Island Project and the Genesis Project on Ossabaw Island and was instrumental in her family’s decision to make a bargain sale of Ossabaw Island to the State of Georgia in 1978 for use as the state’s first Heritage Preserve. West, 96, has lived on the island full time since 1986.

West encouraged innovative efforts in the sciences, arts, culture, and education, and provided opportunities for a diverse spectrum of people to draw inspiration and knowledge from Ossabaw Island. The Ossabaw Fellowship is intended to honor Sandy West by recognizing creative endeavors of a person working in any field, whose endeavor relates to or is inspired by Ossabaw Island.


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