Join us in welcoming new Marketing and Communications Manager, Rebecca Kilborne, to the President Lincoln’s Cottage team! Executive Administrator and Editor Zach Klitzman sat down with her in their joint office (which made the interview convenient) where they touched on Irish literature, parlor games, and Lincoln’s empathy.
What is your new role here at the Cottage?
I’m the Marketing and Communications Manager. I’m in charge of communicating with the press, handling our social media, promoting our programs, and overseeing our external communications. Lincoln was such a complicated character, and there are so many interesting things that are done at the Cottage that the challenge is going to be synthesizing our messaging.
Tell me a bit about your professional experience and background?
I have spent a long time in real estate marketing historic houses, which has prepared me for this role, since this is a really cool piece of real estate, am I right? I also taught for a while.
Where did you teach?
I taught 2nd grade in a school in New York where I also developed an after school creative writing program for Middle School which I loved. I also taught English as a foreign language in Prague, and worked with teenagers in London for the British government. I’m excited about the educational aspect of the Cottage since I’ve worked with all age groups.
Wow that is quite a diverse background. What made you interested in working at a historic site like the Cottage?
One thing I didn’t say was I worked out of ABC News researching Presidential decision making with George Stephanopoulos right after college. We worked on a chapter on Lincoln, and he was my favorite president to research. I also wrote my Senior College thesis on Lincoln’s Second Inaugural as a rhetoric major at Bates College in Maine. I was first introduced to Lincoln’s Cottage when I moved back from New York City last year to DC. I had been volunteering with the Historic House Museum Consortium of DC doing their marketing and spent my free time visiting local house museums. I attended the 2018 Lincoln Ideas Forum here at the Cottage and was blown away. When I saw an open position at the Cottage, I knew I had to apply.
I see you call our fair city “DC.” You must be a local?
Yup, I’m a local. I’m happy to be back home.
So besides the Cottage, what is your favorite DC house museum?
The Frederick Douglass House in Anacostia. They really use the house to bring you into Douglass’s psychological state of mind. Frederick Douglass is often seen as a symbol, and he crafted that image deliberately. The tour guides at the Frederick Douglass house do a great job of showing you the man behind the symbol, and giving you a sense of how difficult it must have been to be Frederick Douglass. And I think the Cottage does something very similar for Lincoln.
Switching gears here, any hobbies? What are you doing on an average weekend?
I have a one year old, so I don’t have so much free time these days. But when I do, I like to play games a lot. I like word games, parlor games, board games, bar games, crossword puzzles, you name it. I also like to travel and read fiction.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Normal People by Sally Rooney after loving Conversations with Friends. They are annoyingly good considering she’s not even 30 yet. Sigh.
As our social media guru, what’s your favorite hashtag?
Oh man I don’t know. #TravelTuesday gives me lots of FOMO so that’s kind of aspirational. I’m excited to come up with some Lincoln hashtags. So far, I’ve just got #AbeLinkinbio for when we link an article to our Instagram bio. Get it?
Haha very funny. What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I went to grad school for Irish literature and wrote my thesis on Samuel Beckett. People don’t necessarily know how dark I am haha.
What’s your favorite thing about Lincoln?
His empathy. He made a huge effort to think of things from the perspective of other people, including his opponents. I also like that he was a work-in-progress and was always learning from his mistakes. And I like that he was a talented storyteller who made everyone laugh. Hard to choose with Lincoln!
What’s your pitch for why someone should visit President Lincoln’s Cottage?
The Cottage captures this monumental moment in American history when Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. Being able to put yourself in that moment is incredibly powerful.