Nordic American Churches Project Team


A. Robert Jaeger
President, Partners for Sacred Places

Bob conceptualized the Nordic American Churches Project, conducted site visits, and co-led the New Dollars/New Partners training sessions for participating churches. Bob co-founded Partners for Sacred Places in 1989. Previously, Bob worked with the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation as Senior Vice President for the Historic Religious Properties Program. He is the co-author of Sacred Places at Risk(1998) and Strategies for Stewardship and Active Use of Older and Historic Religious Properties(1996), author of Sacred Places in Transition (1994), and editor (from 1985 to 1989) of Inspired, a bi-monthly magazine with news and technical articles on religious property preservation. Bob holds a master’s degree in preservation planning from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.


Joshua Castaño
Director, Community Engagement Services, Partners for Sacred Places

Joshua conducted site visits, co-led the New Dollars/New Partners training sessions for participating churches, and co-managed the grants for church restoration and repair. Joshua brings to Partners his professional experience as a historic preservation specialist in one of the nation’s most densely and diversely populated communities of Paterson, NJ. There, he helped build partnerships between historic congregations and public institutions, with a particular focus on heritage tourism initiatives that benefited many of the dynamic congregations successfully serving the city’s economically challenged neighborhoods. Joshua also developed a variety of heritage-based public education programs and participated, through research and legislative assistance, in the local landmark designation of historic congregations in addition to formal advocacy on behalf of threatened historic sites. In addition to his work at Partners, Joshua provides consulting assistance and leadership for regional denominational committees and boards within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultural institutions in the New York metropolitan region. Joshua earned a BA in Art History from Oberlin College where he curated an exhibition on the landmark Robert Venturi-designed addition to the Allen Memorial Art Museum, originally designed by Cass Gilbert.


Allison King
Grants and Program Manager, Partners for Sacred Places

Allison designed the Nordic American Churches Project website and began interning with Partners in the fall of 2018 working on several grant funded projects such as the Playing and Preserving pipe organ survey. She joined the Partners team full time once she finished her Masters in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania in 2019. She currently brings her passion for material culture, the arts, and social heritage to her work with the National Fund for Sacred Places, as well as other grant funded Partners initiatives like the Arts in Sacred Places Program.


Timothy C. Prizer
Consultant and Nordic Churches Project Research Associate

Tim worked primarily on the Nordic American Churches Project database, including research and data entry. Tim is a folklorist and anthropologist who has nearly 20 years of both educational and practical experience in the fields of folklore, ethnography, material culture, and heritage studies. He received his Master of Arts degree in Folklore from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. Tim’s interest and expertise focuses on exploring and documenting the efforts of communities and individuals to preserve and to commemorate the vernacular culture that matter most to them. He previously consulted with the Georgia Council for the Arts, the Southern Arts Federation, the South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University, and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Of particular interest are individual- and community-based efforts at commemoration in situations of industrial decline and the role of digital technology in cultural preservation initiatives.


Emily Sajdak
Project Manager, Partners for Sacred Places

Emily conducted site visits, assisted with the New Dollars/New Partners training for participating churches, oversaw the project video, and co-managed the grants for church restoration and repair in Phase 1 and is managing Phase 2. Prior to joining Partners in early 2017, Emily assisted with the donor database and collaborated on published materials for the Development Office at Calvin Theological Seminary. She previously held internships with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, where she worked on public policy projects, and with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, where she worked as a site interpreter and developed interpretation materials. Emily holds a Master’s degree in Public History: Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University, as well as a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Theology in Old Testament from Calvin Theological Seminary.


Laurie Kay Sommers
Consultant and Nordic Churches Project Manager Phase 1

The granddaughter of Norwegian immigrants, Laurie identified potential applicants to the Nordic American Churches Project, served as primary liaison with the project advisory group, conducted site visits, conceptualized the database, and developed the website’s initial content. Laurie is an independent folklore and historic preservation consultant based in Okemos, Michigan. She holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University and has more than three decades of experience in the fields of public folklore, ethnomusicology, and historic preservation. Her work has included community documentation projects, traveling exhibitions, folklife festivals, historic preservation surveys, documentary radio and websites, folk arts in education materials, National Register nominations, and publications. She is editor of “The Place of Folklore in Historic Preservation,” a special issue of the Journal of American Folklore (2019). She currently co-chairs the American Folklore Society’s Working Group on Folklore and Historic Preservation Policy where she has taken an active role in identifying model projects that combine folklore and historic preservation methodology for a richer sense of place.


Website and Database technical support provided by:


David Pruitt. Certified FileMaker Developer, The Moyer Group

Gregory Tarallo, Software Application Project Manager, netStride