Nicklason’s associates share a wholehearted commitment to
historical research. We enjoy working with each other and
with our clients, and we maintain relationships with
consultants and contractors in a variety of fields so that we
can offer our clients additional capabilities if their projects
require them. This allows us to be both flexible and cost
effective in fulfilling our clients’ research and writing needs.

Our core team includes:

Mark Leutbecker, Director
Mark Leutbecker has been with Nicklason Research Associates
since 1973, serving as its director since 1997. Mark’s specialty
is Native American history. He has provided expert testimony
for Indian claims cases and has authored historical reports on
more than a dozen tribes and tribal organizations seeking
federal recognition. Mark also has extensive experience
managing historical research efforts for major environmental
investigation and cleanup projects, including those for
Superfund sites and military properties. Mark earned his
bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and his master’s in
American history from Louisiana State University.

Vicki Killian, Senior Associate:
Vicki Killian has been with Nicklason for more than 25 years,
performing in-depth research for Native American cases,
environmental projects, exhibits and books. Vicki served as
lead researcher in investigating historical activities on more
than 300 military sites for various Department of Defense
programs. She has particular expertise in the complex
holdings of the National Archives, and has strong working
relationships with numerous archivists. Her bachelor’s degree
is from Hampshire College and her master’s in Science,
Technology and Public Policy is from George Washington

Phyllis Goodnow, Associate:
Phyllis Goodnow brings both research and curatorial expertise
to Nicklason’s team. Before joining Nicklason in 2002, she was
a curatorial consultant for Dumbarton House, NIH’s Stetten
Museum and the American Music Therapy Association,
preparing exhibit scripts and labels, selecting artifacts and
images and overseeing print production and installation.
Phyllis is a strategic, efficient and versatile researcher, with
particular expertise in exhibits. She received her bachelor’s
degree from Hood College and has master’s degrees in both
museum studies and fine arts from George Washington

Cliff Callahan, Associate:

Cliff Callahan joined Nicklason from Paper Trails Historical
Research (PTHR) in 2012, bringing with him more than a
decade of experience of dedicated asbestos research. His in-
depth knowledge of records concerning asbestos exposure
acquired from U.S. Navy vessels, including the products,
companies and asbestos types involved in shipbuilding, has
proven instrumental in settling hundreds of exposure claims
and achieving successful outcomes for plaintiffs. Cliff’s
additional areas of expertise include World War II, Vietnam
War, State Department, FBI and presidential records. He has a
bachelor’s degree in history from Westmont College in Santa
Barbara, Calif.

Brian Malik, Freelance Associate:
Brian Malik also joined the Nicklason team in 2012 from PTHR,
where he researched complex asbestos litigation cases for
nearly a decade. He previously worked as a research project
manager for MIT Department of Economics and University of
Chicago's Center for Population Economics. Brian's
introduction to federal records research came in 2000, when
he worked at NARA while earning his bachelor’s degree in
history at the University of Maryland. He has particularly
strong knowledge of NARA’s military record collections and Civil
War service and pension files.

Orah Hurst, Consultant:
Orah Hurst founded Paper Trails Historical Research in 1994
and served as its full-time director until 2012. In that time,
PTHR researched nearly 2,000 asbestos cases for plaintiff
attorneys across the country, specializing in Navy, Maritime
and Coast Guard ships and shipyards. The research Orah and
her team conducted has led to millions of dollars in legal
awards to victims of mesothelioma and their families. In 2012,
Orah retired from full-time work, and now offers her
comprehensive knowledge and expertise in asbestos litigation
research as an active adviser and consultant to Nicklason,
which took on PTHR’s clients and casework. Orah attended
California Western University in San Diego and has a
professional degree in training management from the Institute
of Training and Development in the United Kingdom.

Janet Burkitt, Associate:
Janet Burkitt honed her research skills by working as a
reporter at the Seattle Times for six years. Her love of history
complemented her research and writing skills at the History
Factory, where she worked as a senior writer-editor producing
corporate history books and museum exhibits. Janet’s creative
skills have enhanced Nicklason’s content development
capabilities. As a researcher, she has shown particular
aptitude for tracking down difficult-to-find documents. Janet
received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan
and earned a master’s degree in journalism from the
University of Maryland.

“For the past 10 years   
Nicklason Research
Associates has been an
outstanding teaming
partner to Malcolm
Pirnie in the execution
of numerous
Department of Defense
Environmental Clean-up
program investigations.
Their knowledge of the
National Archives,
innovative research
process, and ability to
uncover relevant
documentation is

Mark Albe, project
manager, Malcolm Pirnie

Historical Research and Consulting Since 1972
Our Staff