Libby O’Connell

Co-Chair, Civics, History, & America's Future

Libby O’Connell is a cultural historian and the author of The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. She is the Chief Historian Emeritus at History Channel and former Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at A&E Television Networks. As part of her responsibilities at History Channel, Dr. O’Connell produced or co-produced over sixty on-site films for organizations such as the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty, and Gettysburg. Her work in education and television received four EMMYS, including three Governors’ Awards.

Dr. O’Connell’s multi-year outreach program, Save Our History, committed to historic preservation and history education, was recognized by the White House, the American Historical Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She appears as a commentator on television and public radio on a variety of historical topics, such as History Channel’s series, Food That Built America and the Drive By History series on PBS. Before joining A&E Networks in 1993, she taught history at Long Island University and worked in historic preservation.

Dr. O’Connell has served on several boards including the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and National History Day. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed her to the US World War I Centennial Commission, where she chaired the education committee until 2020. As Commissioner, she designed educational outreach resources that included pod casts, videos, and a selection of primary sources for teachers and students across the United States and internationally as well. This work helped attract funding from the Andrew J. Mellon Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other foundations that enabled the United States World War I Commission to share a truly inclusive history of the “Great War” to a wide audience.

Recently, Dr. O’Connell has returned to her original occupations, teaching adults at Long Island University and working locally in historic preservation, along with researching the history of food and foodways .

Dr. O’Connell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia after graduating from Tufts University magna cum laude. She and Matt O’Connell, her husband of 44 years, live on Long Island.