Sarah Pharaon

NHD 1991, 1992, 1994

Where do you currently live?
South Orange, NJ

What is your current occupation?
Senior Director, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience

What school did you attend while participating in NHD?
Wyoming Valley West Middle School (Kingston, PA); Wyoming Valley West High School (Plymouth, PA)

What college did you attend?
BA American Studies, Franklin and Marshall College; MA History Museum Studies, Cooperstown Graduate Program (SUNY Oneonta)

Who were your teachers?
Art Valli; Mary Jean Tarrantini

What years and in what category did you participate in NHD?
93-94 (Group Project); 91-92 (Individual Project); 90-91 (Individual Project)

What are a few of your favorite or defining moments from your NHD experience?
Digging through records at our local Historical Society; coming up with creative visual presentations; my brother helping me draw March of Dimes posters for my Salk vaccine exhibit; exchanging pins at nationals; awaiting results; and walking into the Smithsonian for the first time

How did NHD help you after high school?
NHD taught me research and presentation skills and began my love of local history. It was the first time that I thought critically about how to relay historical information visually – all vital to my current career.

What recognition did you receive for participating in NHD?
I placed in the top two in our region; and top two in PA advancing to national competition in D.C. twice (93-94; 91-92)

Did you do anything with your NHD project or research after the contest year?
I’m pretty sure I presented to local Rotary Clubs, but goodness it was a long time ago at this point!

What has kept you busy since your days as an NHD student? Any particular challenges, stories, or achievements?
“At the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, I direct work on issues of race, education equity and incarceration including From Brown v Board to Ferguson, a three-year collaboration between ten historic sites and their community partners to create dynamic youth public engagement programs that foster much-needed community dialogue on race, education equity and incarceration in the context of civil rights history. From 2010 – 2014, I led twenty five U.S. museums in the National Dialogues on Immigration project, an IMLS and NEH-funded initiative which linked sites across the country in hosting dialogues on contemporary immigration issues affecting their communities (

Prior to this, I worked as Director of Education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and was the founding curator of the Arab American National Museum (AANM.) I am a consulting trainer on dialogue and community engagement for the National Park Service and serve on the Leadership Council for the American Association for State and Local History.”