Directors and Officers

crpa-boardThe Board of Directors for the Center for Railroad Photography & Art at the offices of Kalmbach Publishing Company in Waukesha, Wisconsin, during the board’s annual meeting in 2015. From left to right: Scott Lothes, Kevin Keefe, Michael Schmidt, Norm Carlson, Michael Valentine, Richard Tower, John Gruber, Nona Hill, Al Louer, Bon French, Jeff Brouws, and David Kahler. Not pictured: Roger Grant.

T. Bondurant French, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Chairman
Bon French is the Executive Chairman 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, New York, Menlo Park, London, Singapore, Beijing, and Tokyo. Bon is a Trustee of Northwestern University and chairman emeritus 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.

H. Roger Grant, Clemson, South Carolina
H. Roger Grant, Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University, is an active writer of railroad history. Included in his publications are company histories of the Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, Erie Lackawanna, Georgia & Florida, and Wabash railroads. Some of Grant’s recent books are Visionary Railroader: Jervis Langdon, Jr. and the Transportation Revolution (Indiana, 2008), Twilight Rails: The Final Era of Railroad Building in the Midwest (Minnesota, 2010), Railroads and the America People (Indiana, 2012), and The Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Rail Road: Dreams of Linking North and South (Indiana, 2014). He is a native of Albia, Iowa, and taught at the University of Akron for 26 years before he joined the History Department at Clemson. Grant has had a lifelong interest in railroads, sparked in part by the trains of the Burlington, the Minneapolis & St. Louis, and the Wabash that served his hometown.

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 became 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.

Michael P. Schmidt, Owosso, Michigan, Secretary
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 Vice Chief of Staff, Chief of Surgery, and serves on the board of trustees of his hospital. He is Assistant Regional Clerkship Director for the Central Michigan University School of Medicine. 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.

Richard Tower, San Francisco, California
Richard Tower is President of the Candelaria Fund, a private family foundation making grants supporting self-help programs to combat poverty and community-based organizations that preserve local history and culture. His career includes management stints with Amtrak and Southern Pacific, an executive position with Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co., and rail consulting work. He has served as Vice-President and Treasurer of the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Management Corporation, and he has served on the boards of the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association and Western Railway Museum, Friends of the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad, BritRail Travel International, and the San Francisco Embarcadero YMCA.

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.