The Essex National Heritage Commission (Essex Heritage), a non-profit that manages and provides numerous programs preserving and enhancing Essex County’s historic, natural and cultural places, welcomed business and community leaders from around Essex County to its Annual Fall Meeting on Thursday, October 4 at the Flint Public Library in Middleton. The business portion of the session focused on the importance of sustaining the region through youth engagement, partnership projects and regional awareness. The Commission also announced its newly elected trustees and commissioners, and presented its 2017 Essex Heritage Pioneer in Partnership Awards.

New Trustees, and Commissioners Elected

Essex Heritage is governed by a 25-member Board of Trustees and supported by 150 Commissioners who live and/or work within Essex County and who serve as representatives of the communities, businesses, community organizations, educational institutions and historic, cultural and natural resources of the region. “Our Trustees and Commissioners serve an important role as ambassadors and advocates for this region,” said CEO Annie C. Harris. “Essex Heritage is pleased to welcome the new Trustees and Commissioners, and we’re grateful for their leadership and support in promoting regional cooperation in Essex County.” 

The following individuals were elected to serve the Essex National Heritage Commission:

New Trustees, 2017-2020

  • Bernadette Butterfield, Groom Construction
  • Grace Harrington, Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano
  • Rebecca Oldfield Smith, Wenham Museum
  • Peter Webber, Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce

New Commissioners, 2017-2020

  • Alyssa G. A. Conary, Salem Historical Society 
  • Susan Grabski, Lawrence History Center
  • Jacqueline Laubner, General Israel Putnam Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
  • Kim Smith, Kim Smith Designs
  • William Steelman, formerly of Essex Heritage
  • Arthur H. Veasey, Whittier Birthplace
  • Paul Wright, Boston Architectural College

Pioneer in Partnership Awards

Each year, Essex Heritage and the National Park Service present the Pioneer in Partnership Awards to individuals and organizations who exemplify the commission’s spirit of collaboration. The award recognizes those who build partnerships and celebrate the nationally significant places that form the Essex National Heritage Area.

2017 Pioneer in Partnership Award Recipients:

John Andrews, Creative Salem:  in recognition of his leadership and commitment to the region’s Creative Culture. John Andrews is the founder and owner of Creative Salem, an organization aimed at promoting and facilitating collaboration within the local arts community, while providing creative professionals with tools for connecting with new audiences. John is, among other things, an entrepreneur, social media expert and visual story teller who is passionate about culture, diversity, and creativity.  He works tirelessly to promote the North Shore as a center for creativity and the arts, connecting local artists with opportunities and local businesses with new audiences. Through Creative Salem, John has also been able to engage the public in these initiatives by organizing popular community events. It is his comprehensive understanding of not only what artists need to create, but also what they need to thrive, which make him such an asset to the region. John puts his heart and soul into supporting the arts and the joy of creativity, and he is seemingly everywhere at once capturing it all beautifully with his lens.

Germaine Koomen, Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill: in recognition of her leadership and commitment to Heritage Education. Germain is teacher at the Hill View Montessori Charter Public School in Haverhill, and exemplifies what it means to bring students and their communities together for inspired learning.  For two years, Germain participated in “Park for Every Classroom”, an Essex Heritage program which exposes teachers to various techniques for utilizing community resources in their classrooms.  From her experience, Germain was moved to develop new, innovative ways to give her elementary students “real field work” experiences. She has created partnerships with community organizations, and through these partnerships, her students learned how apply math, science, history, and language skills in order to create awareness about precious natural resources.

Catherine Ryan, Arts Advisor & Writer, Gloucester: in recognition of her leadership and commitment to the region’s Cultural Heritage. With more than 30 years of experience working in the art world, Catherine has taken on many roles within the Gloucester arts community. She has worked as an independent arts advisor, a curator, a public arts consultant, an arts writer as well as a contributor to Good Morning Gloucester.  Volunteering her skills and experience, Catherine is actively engaged in and around the City of Gloucester and has served on Gloucester’s Committee of the Arts since 2012, as well as the Gloucester tourism commission. She was also instrumental in the formation of Gloucester’s Downtown Cultural District. Her work has included Gloucester’s wonderful Harborwalk, and Cape Ann Reads, and the restoration of the magnificent WPA murals at Gloucester City hall, and her yearly cleaning and maintenance of the “Step on Fish Net” mural in the downtown, a site which annually participates in Essex Heritage’s Trails & Sails event.. Catherine works quietly – usually behind the scenes but with great drive and passion to ensure that the culture and history of the city she loves is conserved for present and future generations. She is an integral member of the community, a “team player”, who is dedicated to the promotion and expansion of art-centered initiatives on Cape Ann.

Woman Owned Businesses along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway: in recognition of their leadership and promotion of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. Last spring, 10 women retailers from Gloucester, Essex, Ipswich and Rowley began working collaboratively on a project aimed at marketing their local businesses while establishing a connection between their neighboring communities. The result was the development of the “Women Owned Businesses along the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway” brochure, which uses the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway as a means to encourage community engagement and the importance of supporting small businesses along this beautiful route.  This entrepreneurial initiative helps to foster economic success hand in hand with the preservation of the landscapes and communities which make this area so unique.

Ghlee E. Woodworth, Author & Historian, Newburyport: in recognition of her leadership and stewardship of the region’s Cultural Heritage. As Newburyport’s Mayor Donna Holaday recently said about Ghlee, “She has made a tremendous impact on telling the story of Newburyport from … the Clipper Heritage Trail, (her) numerous presentations to (visiting) groups … and informal meetings with family, friends and tourists who are seeking information …  Ghlee  is invaluable to our city!” One of Ghlee’s many accomplishments includes her creation and design of the award winning Clipper Heritage Trail in 2010, an online series of self-guided history tours. She is also the author of the award winning book Tiptoe Through the Tombstones, Oak Hill Cemetery which discusses the lives of past residents of Newburyport and their contributions to the city. She has also been involved in several gravestone restoration projects including Old Hill Burying Ground and Oak Hill Cemetery, resulting in the restoration of 1,400 historic gravestones, as well as Hampton Falls and Salisbury resulting in the restoration of over 200 gravestones.  She has guided countless cemetery tours that now include Old Hill Burying Ground, Highland Cemetery, African American History, and the Abolitionist Movement. As a trustee for Oak Hill Cemetery, Ghlee helped raise over $100,000 for tree restoration and the ongoing restoration of the historic Brown Chapel.