The board and staff of the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture

The Comstock Foundation Board of Directors is a five member board that includes independent, local representatives, as well as others who are share an interest in preserving the Landmark District. During the first two years of existence, the board met annually. Beginning in 2015, the board began quarterly meetings.The first Board of Directors convened July 24, 2013. Corrado De Gasperis was appointed Chair, Paul Yandre of Virginia City appointed Secretary, Pamela Abercrombie of Silver City appointed Treasurer, and Lee Halavais and John Winfield appointed Directors. Ron James served as the first Executive Director and was extremely instrumental establishing legal status and infrastructure for the organization, as well as launching several initiatives including the first preservation project – saving the Upper Yellow Jacket Hoist and Ore Chute.

In May of 2015, Pamela Abercrombie resigned from the Board of Directors and began transition to the Executive Director role. August 2015, Ron James resigned as Executive Director and Pamela assumed the role as Executive Director. At the August 18, 2015 Board of Directors meeting, two new Board Directors were approved: Joe Curtis of Virginia City and Johnye Saylor of Dayton. Joe was appointed Treasurer and Johnye Secretary. Corrado was reappointed the Chair. Lee Halavais and John Winfield remain on the Board and are substantial contributors to the organization. The new Board of Directors finalized Pamela’s position as Executive Director and designated Ron James as the Emeritus Director. Ron’s contributions of establishing the organization and to preservation and history in Nevada, especially the Comstock, warranted his continued involvement with the organization. The Foundation is honored to have his continued participation.

Corrado De Gasperis, Board Chair
          Comstock Mining, Inc. Chairman of the Board, Director, President & Chief Executive Officer
Mr. De Gasperis is currently the Comstock Mining, Inc. Chairman of the Board, Director, President & Chief Executive Officer. He brings over twenty seven years of manufacturing, metals and mining operational and financial management, project management, and capital markets experience. Previously, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Barzel Industries Inc. (formerly Novamerican Steel Inc.) from April 2006 through September 2009. Barzel operated a network of 15 manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities in the United States and Canada that offered a wide range of metal solutions to a variety of industries, including construction, infrastructure development and mining. From 2001 to 2005, he served as Chief Financial Officer of GrafTech International Ltd., a global manufacturer of industrial graphite and carbon-based materials, in addition to his duties as Vice President and Chief Information Officer, which he assumed in 2000. He served as Controller of GrafTech from 1998 to 2000. From 1987 to 1998, Mr. De Gasperis was a certified public accountant with KPMG LLP. As a Senior Assurance Manager in the Manufacturing, Retail and Distribution Practice, he served major clients like GE and Union Carbide Corporation. KPMG announced his admittance, as a Partner, effective July 1, 1998. He holds a BBA from the Ancell School of Business at Western Connecticut State University, with honors. Mr. De Gasperis was appointed as a Director to Comstock Mining Inc.’s Board in June 2011, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture, a qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organization and a current Director of NevadaWorks. He also served as a Director of GBS Gold International Inc., where he was Chairman of the Audit, and Governance Committee and the Compensation Committee and a member of the Nominations and Advisory Committees. Mr. De Gasperis is a Member of the NYSE Markets Advisory Committee, the Northern Nevada Development Authority and the Northern Nevada Network.

Joe Curtis, Board Treasurer
Joe spent his childhood in Carson City, and from his youth on he has been on the Comstock. He is Carson High School graduate, holds a LL.B Degree from LaSalle Extension University, a US Army Veteran, has two Associate Degrees in Science from Western Nevada College, and a is a graduate from the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy. He dedicated 25 years to law enforcement in Carson City, primarily investigations and assistant sheriff. He has been a leader for the Storey County Volunteer Fire Department for 43 years, with 21 years as Chief of the department. He and his wife of 50 years owned and operated the Mark Twain bookstore in Virginia City; a family owned and operated business since 1959. He is a self-taught historian and locally recognized Comstock history expert. He started the Comstock Fireman’s Museum and is still a volunteer and board member today. He also serves on over ten boards, including the Comstock Foundation. He owns and operates, ‘On the Side Graphics and Signs’, a graphics design business in Virginia City. He currently is the Storey County Emergency Manager.

Johyne Saylor, Board Member
Johnye was born in Grass Valley California and raised in Hong Kong. After leaving Hong Kong for college in the United States, she married and returned to Hong Kong. She later resided in Japan and Laos. Upon returning to the states she resided in Carmel, owning an Inn. She then moved to NorthStar at Truckee where she had businesses in Truckee, Tahoe and Reno. In 1987 she met her present husband and moved to Dayton Nevada in the same year. She immediately became immersed in the community and working with her husband in several businesses one of which is an art gallery showing her husband’s art. Much of the art depicts Nevada and its western heritage. Much of the art has entailed historical research which has become of great interest to her. At present she and her husband reside in the oldest home on the Comstock in Dayton built in 1856. They have a small ranch where they care for about 100 rescued animals. In 2009, Johnye and her husband were recognized by The American Red Cross and the U.S. Congress for their efforts with animal rescue. Recently they wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the animals on the ranch. Johnye has served on various boards over the years: CASA for 9 years, Northstar water Board for 3 years, Northstar Fire Department for 12 years, Carmel Innkeepers Association for 3 years, Soroptimist International for 7 years, and the Foundation for American Western Art for 3 years. She has been serving on the Comstock Foundation board for a year, now.

P. Lee Halavais, Director
Lee Halavais became a part of the Carlin Gold strike when, over thirty years ago she joint ventured with two of the largest companies in the world (Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining) to put into production the Leeville mine and associated claims that have produced some of the most productive precious metal mines in the world. These mines are still generating high volumes of precious metals today and have created hundreds of mining jobs in Carlin that likely will continue for the next fifty years. Lee remains active in the mining community as an investor and shareholder in mining stocks. She is a living legacy to the rich Nevada mining history and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about the industry, its colorful past and bright future. Lee donates her time and has been a generous financial benefactor to the Foundation and its charitable activities in Virginia City and surrounding Northern Nevada communities.

John Winfield, Director
Mr. Winfield, age 70, is a CFHC board director and one of the Foundation’s major donors. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, President and Chief Executive Officer of The InterGroup Corporation (“InterGroup”), and has held these positions since 1987. Mr. Winfield is an avid protector of nature and has been awarded by the National Humane Society in his efforts toward the protection of animals. He is a naturalist, an environmentalist and has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor, as well as managerial and leadership experience derived from serving as a chief executive officer and director of public companies.  

Ron James, Emeritus Director
Ron James retired as the Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer in 2012, having administered his agency for thirty years. In 2013, he helped organize the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture to assist with the preservation of the Virginia City National Historic Landmark. Ron retired from the position of Executive Director of that non-profit organization in 2015. He served on the National Park System Advisory Board and as the Chairman of the National Historic Landmarks Committee. Ron is the author or co-author of thirteen books including The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode, and his roughly three dozen articles have appeared in six countries and dealing with history, folklore, archaeology, and architectural history. He is a historian and folklorist, with degrees in both fields from the University of Nevada, Reno, where he lectured for over three decades. Ron was the nation’s I.T.T. Fellow to Ireland in 1981-1982, studying folklore at the national archives. In 2014, he was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. In 2015, the Mining History Association awarded Ron the Rodman Paul Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mining History. Ron was instrumental in the development of the idea for the Comstock Foundation, developing the Foundation, and leading the organization through its first two years of existence.

Pamela Abercrombie, Executive Director
Pamela developed a career in the nonprofit field the past 14 years, serving youth and families. She began as a program coordinator for a youth-serving organization in Dayton, transitioned to the Education Director for the Yerington Paiute Tribe where she became a self-taught administrator, and then after earning a Master’s in Public Administration fell in love with Virginia City and tourism. With an undergrad in history from the University of Nevada, Reno and a passion for history, becoming the director for the Foundation is a perfect fit. She has a strong background in organizational development, programming, volunteer recruitment and retention, business management, nonprofit management, and experience with grant writing and management. She was born and raised in Carson City, Nevada and spent much of her youth on the Comstock. Now, she serves a vibrant organization and has many opportunties to grow the Comstock Foundation through collaboration, volunteers, programs and projects.


The Comstock Foundation | PO Box 61 • 1669 Main Street • Virginia City • Nevada 89440
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