By David J. Kent
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Today I became President of the Lincoln Group of DC. Most Lincoln Group members probably already know me given I have been the Vice President of Outreach and Education for several years, and did a stint as Vice President of Programs. I also write the book review column for the quarterly Lincolnian newsletter and am a regular contributor to the blog on our new website, Lincolnian.org. I've also been responsible for sharing much of the content on the Lincoln Group's Facebook and Twitter pages.
As for my background, you could say I've led two parallel lives. Growing up on the New England seacoast naturally led me to a career as a marine biologist for several years (until an arsonist burned down my laboratory - long story). I earned my college and advanced degrees in biology and environmental science, and then worked for over thirty years in various environmental and regulatory consulting firms, much of it here in Washington, DC. On the side, I was an Abraham Lincoln nut. While working in science during the day, I studied Lincoln at night (okay, and sometimes also during the day, and definitely on the weekends). Somewhere along the way I acquired an obsession for books about Lincoln, and now have close to 1,500 on bookcases strategically placed around the house. If you've seen me in Zoom meetings, you've seen a small part of my Lincoln library in the background.
The first book I wrote came out in 2013. My previous writing was mostly technical stuff, but I wanted to reach a broader public audience. A well-timed book on Nikola Tesla (just as the car company named after him was taking off) gave me a jumpstart on a new career as a writer. Shortly after its release I left the science job (and salary) behind. A few years later I wrote a book on Thomas Edison. Two specialty e-books soon followed and transitioned me over to my Lincoln side, leading to a book on my old friend Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America has allowed me to reach thousands of people who have never picked up an academic book on Lincoln.
I became a member of the Lincoln Group of DC in January 2012. Having just returned from working three years in Brussels, Belgium, I wanted to put more energy into my Lincoln side. Now back in DC, I discovered a dynamic group with monthly dinner lectures, occasional symposia, and in the midst of staging sesquicentennial commemorations of key events during Lincoln's presidency, including his two inaugural speeches. In my very first dinner meeting I met John Elliff, whose humor and Lincoln knowledge inspired me to become active within the group. By 2014 I was on the Board as Vice President of Outreach and Education, which I have repeated for the last three years after a term as Vice President of Programs. And now I get to follow in the footsteps of Karen Needles, John Elliff, and John O'Brien as President.
These are big shoes to fill, but I'm confident that the fantastic Board we have assembled and the energy and enthusiasm of the membership will keep us moving in the direction my predecessors have placed us. There will be a lot to do. At some point this year we hope to return to our in-person dinner meetings, but at the same time continue with the virtual programs that have allowed us to reach members now spread around the country. Next year is the centennial of the Lincoln Memorial and we hope to play a significant role in planning and presentation at any commemoration. And we literally have a long list of other activities planned, which I'll talk more about in the future.
Look for me on my author website at http://www.davidjkent-writer.com/