Directors and Officers

Scott Lothes, Madison, Wisconsin, President and Executive Director
Scott Lothes became the Center’s full-time executive director in 2011, after serving on its staff part-time since 2008. In 2013 he succeeded John Gruber as president and editor of the Center’s journal, Railroad Heritage. Fascinated by railroads from birth, Lothes grew up watching coal trains in West Virginia. He took up photography while attending college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and to date over 300 of his photographs have appeared in print, along with 40 bylined articles. He won the Trains and Canon photography contest in 2003, tied for first place in the Center’s 2006 Creative Photography Awards Program, and in 2008 staff at Trains magazine selected one of his photos for inclusion in its “100 Greatest Railroad Photos” special issue. In addition to West Virginia and Ohio, he has lived in Oregon and Hokkaido, Japan, and traveled extensively in Vietnam and China.

T. Bondurant French, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Chairman
Bon French is the CEO of Adams Street Partners, one of the largest and oldest managers of private equity investment in the world. Begun in 1972, Adams Street has offices in Chicago, Menlo Park, London and Singapore. Bon is a Trustee of Northwestern University and chair of the Chicago History Museum. He is a member of the CFA Institute and a former director of the National Venture Capital Association. A life long rail enthusiast and photographer, Bon has photographed over 650 railroads and shortlines, principally in the United States and Canada. Bon worked as a brakeman for the Soo Line Railroad during the summers while earning an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Jeff Brouws, Stanfordville, New York
Jeff Brouws, born in San Francisco in 1955, has pursued photography since age 13. Over the ensuing 40 years, Brouws has compiled a visual survey of America’s cultural landscape. Besides being instrumental in helping organize our yearly conference, Brouws brings knowledge of 20th century photography and a broad background in publishing—his seven books include monographs on the works of Richard Steinheimer and Jim Shaughnessy, as well as Approaching Nowhere (2006), a compilation of his own imagery of America’s evolving suburban and urban landscapes. His photographs can be found in numerous collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and Harvard’s Fogg Museum.

Norman Carlson, Lake Forest, Illinois
Norm Carlson spent 34 years with Arthur Andersen, the last ten as the worldwide managing partner of the transportation industry practice; he began his second career as an independent consultant following his first retirement in 2000. Among his assignments was being chairman of the board of RailWorks and being a railroad trustee on two occasions during the regulatory review period. He is president of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society and managing editor of its publication First & Fastest; moderator of the Sandhouse Group, the monthly railroad discussion group of the Transportation Center at Northwestern University; and the immediate past president of the East Troy Railroad Museum. He has number of publication credits and his photographic work has been published. Norm served in the First Infantry Division in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois.

John Gruber, Madison, Wisconsin, Founder and Past President
John Gruber is founder of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and previously served as president and editor of its journal, Railroad Heritage. He has been a free-lance railroad photographer since 1960, and received a railroad history award from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in 1994 for lifetime achievement in photography. He is contributing editor toClassic Trains, author of Classic Steam (2009), and co-author of Caboose (2001), Travel by Train, the American Railroad Poster (2002), Railway Photography (2003), and Milwaukee Road’s Hiawathas (2006). He edited Vintage Rails magazine from 1995 to 1999.

Nona Hill, Madison, Wisconsin, Treasurer
Nona Hill has been a rail enthusiast her entire life, having grown up next to the Milwaukee-Watertown-Madison line in Wisconsin. She and Clark Johnson, her husband, operate High Iron Travel, operator of the Caritas, the most widely traveled private car in America. Clark is on the board of directors of Iowa Pacific Holdings, which operates several short lines in the west, and the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners. He is a former science adviser to the science committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Nona is treasurer of Pro-Rail, a Madison-based passenger advocacy group, and vice-president of WISARP, the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Railroad Passengers.

David Kahler, Pittsboro, North Carolina, Vice President
David Kahler has practiced architecture for more than 30 years and has been recognized by his peers as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. After serving as the president of Kahler Slater Architects, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for nearly three decades, Mr. Kahler founded DK Consulting in 2001 and serves as president and design adviser. Many projects for which he has been the design principal have won awards, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin State Capitol Restoration, the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, and the Pettit National Ice Center. The Milwaukee Landmark Lighting project received a national urban design award from the American Institute of Architects.

Kevin P. Keefe, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Kevin P. Keefe was born in Chicago in 1951 and graduated from Michigan State University’s School of Journalism in 1973. At MSU, he was a key figure in the effort to restore Pere Marquette steam locomotive 1225. He has worked for daily newspapers in Michigan and Wisconsin, and as an associate editor and editor-in-chief (1992-2000) ofTrains. He because associate publisher in 2000, and, since 2005 he has been vice-president-editorial and publisher for Trains’ parent, Kalmbach Publishing Co., Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Albert O. Louer, Williamsburg, Virginia
A native of Highland Park, Illinois, the Chicago & North Western nurtured Louer’s interest in transportation and railroads. He was graduated from Lake Forest Academy and the College of William and Mary with a concentration in history. He started at Colonial Williamsburg in 1968, moving to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He returned to Colonial Williamsburg in 1982 as Director of Public Relations. In 1991, he moved into fundraising, first as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and now as Senior Director for Major Gifts. His interests and collections are in how the railroads developed marketing techniques and advanced the art and science of promotion.

Arthur H. Miller, Lake Forest, Illinois, Secretary
Miller has been archivist and librarian for special collections at the Donnelley and Lee Library, Lake Forest College, in Illinois, since 1994. Before coming to Lake Forest in 1972, he worked at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Miller is the author of the article on “Railroad” in American Icons: An Encyclopedia of the People Places, and things that Have Shaped Our Culture, ed. Dennis R. Hall and Susan Grove Hall (Greenwood, 2006), volume three, and he prepared chapter 18, “Trains and Railroading,” in volume three of the Handbook of American Popular Culture (1988 and subsequent eds). His other publications include Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest, Architectural and Landscape Design, 1856-1940 by Kim Coventry, Daniel Meyer, and Arthur H. Miller (W. W. Norton, 2003) and three articles on Lake Forest estates in David Adler, Architect, the Elements of Style ed. Martha Thorne (Yale University Press and the Art Institute of Chicago, 2002).

Michael P. Schmidt, Owosso, Michigan
Schmidt—a collector of railroad photographs and paintings–is an orthopedic surgeon. In 1984 he moved to Michigan to complete his training in orthopedic surgery and has been in private practice in Owosso almost continuously since 1990. He is Chief of Staff at his hospital, serves on the hospital board and on the advisory board of his medical school. His interest in the images of railroading dates back to his days in Los Angeles where he and his brother rode bicycles the 20 miles to LAUPT to wander the platforms and get what pictures they could. Schmidt continues to photograph, draw, and paint railroad subjects. He collects railroad photographs, especially by photographers in the transitional period of the 1940s through the 1960s, and has started to acquire commissioned and noncommissioned paintings.

Michael Ross Valentine, Ferndale, Michigan
Michael Ross Valentine is Vice-President and Co-Principal Valentine Robotics Inc. of Sterling Heights, Michigan. He also serves as adjunct faculty for robotics at several local colleges, and serves on the academic advisory board for Macomb Community College’s M-TEC education facility. Valentine Robotics was founded in 1996, and specializes in robotics and automation system programming, training and integration. He previously worked for the BNSF Railway and UPS. Valentine lived and studied at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and is an avid photographer in the U.S. and abroad. He has written articles and had photos published in Trains, CTC Board, and foreign publications. He lives in the Detroit area with his wife Agnes from Austria, and their adopted daughter Maya Xia Shen Valentine from China.