Regional leaders elected to serve on the Commission and Pioneer in Partnership and Youth Leadership Awards presented at Annual Fall Meeting on October 3 

October 23, 2019 – 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, welcomedbusiness and community leaders from around Essex County to its Annual Fall Meeting on Thursday, October 3 at Glen Magna Farms in Danvers. 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 2019 Essex Heritage Pioneer in Partnership Awards and inaugural Youth Leadership Award.

New Trustees, and Commissioners Elected

Essex Heritage is governed by a 22-member Board of Trustees and supported by over 100 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, 2019-2022

·         Jason Consalvo with Salem Five Bank; lives in Beverly

·         Joseph Geller with Geller MicroAnalytical Laboratory; lives in Topsfield


New Commissioners, 2019-2022

·         Barbara Buls, Department of Conservation and Recreation

·         Mary Ann Clancy, Institution for Savings

·         Bethany Jay, Salem State University

·         John Mayer, Amesbury Carriage Museum

·         Carole McCauley, The Trustees, Crane Estate

·         Lauren McCormack, Marblehead Museum

·         Donna Seger, Salem State University


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.2019 Pioneer in Partnership Award Recipients:


1.      Andover Village Improvement Society: in recognition of 125 years of successfully protecting open space in Andover for the enjoyment of all. The Andover Village Improvement Society (AVIS) has been successfully protecting and maintaining over 1,100 acers in the town of Andover for 125 years. AVIS is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the country and was founded in 1894 by a group of local citizens. These citizens came together because of an ad placed in the Andover Townsman publication. The ad was seeking people interested in “the planting of shade trees, the protection of those already planted, and the reclaiming and care of unsightly spots”. Over the years, AVIS transformed their focus from beautification to land stewardship and today, the organization has over 800 members and maintains 30 miles of trails, boardwalks, and bridges that are open to the public. Each reservation that AVIS maintains is unique and spectacular in its own way.

2.      Sheila Cooke-Kayser: in recognition of her dedication to supporting heritage stewardship and youth engagement. Sheila Cooke-Kayser has spent more than 30 years working in historical interpretation for the National Park Service and in her role there, was instrumental in developing more educational initiatives and place-based learning opportunities at both Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works. She was also instrumental in several Essex Heritage initiatives that partnered with the park service, including America’s Best Idea which brought together new partners such as the Boys & Girls Club in Salem. She has supported the development of Danvers Historical Society’s education programs, partnering with the Danvers Public Schools for a third grade program that has students explore their town “then & now” through objects and maps. This 3rd grade program is entirely volunteer run and Sheila is their fearless leader, providing support and training to all the volunteers. Through all the work Sheila has done, she has continuously stewarded heritage within the county while promoting the importance of youth engagement with that heritage.

3.      Salem High School 2018-2019 Intermediate ESL Classes: in recognition of inspiring multicultural heritage appreciation and youth engagement. The Salem High School’s 2018-2019 Intermediate ESL Classes created ways to make more inclusive stories about recent immigration in Salem visible. This wonderful project was developed by 4 Salem High School teachers and over 60 students from different cultural backgrounds. To begin the project, community leaders led the students on tours of Salem’s Point neighborhood, traditionally a place where new arrivals to Salem have lived. Students were encouraged to think about places that they consider being integral to their community and its more recent history. Afterwards, students began creating audio tours that can be accessed online so that the public can become more aware of recent immigration, especially the history of immigrants from the Caribbean.  In this way, students are both serving their community while also becoming more connected to their city.


Youth Leadership Award

In recognition of 10 successful years of Essex Heritage and the National Park Service’s Future Leaders program, a Youth Leadership award was created to recognize a participant who has shown tremendous growth, commitment, and leadership during their employment in the youth jobs program. 2019 Inaugural Youth Leadership Award Recipient:


·         Alyssa Jackson: Alyssa Jackson joined the Future Leaders in 2012 at the age of 15, and proved to be an exemplary participant, working her way through the ranks. Showing her keen talent and self-motivation, Alyssa eventually gained the opportunity to work on her own in the off season, providing a necessary hand in preserving and maintaining the historic grounds and structures entrusted to her care at Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Alyssa eventually graduated from Salem High, and began attending Suffolk University in pursuit of the study of psychology, returning each summer and during breaks to continue her service to the site, and continuing after graduating. Since 2016 Alyssa has served as the site lead for Salem Maritime, taking on the responsibility of leading the main body of youth through the summer and overseeing project management and completion. Alyssa has been an invaluable asset to the Future Leaders program, providing years of institutional knowledge and support in helping the program to best serve its youth participants. Alyssa provides an extraordinary example of the values of the Future Leaders program.


About Essex Heritage and the Essex National Heritage Area

Essex Heritage is the non-profit organization that manages the Essex National Heritage Area by developing programs that enhance, preserve and encourage recreation, education, conservation and interpretation projects on Boston’s North Shore and the Lower Merrimack River Valley. The Essex National Heritage Area is comprised of the 34 cities and towns of Essex County, MA. For more information, visit or call (978) 740-0444.

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Note to Editor:

Photos of the 2019 Pioneer in Partnership Award Recipients and the Fall Annual Meeting are available upon request.


Media Contact:

Anya Wilczynski, Manager of Membership & Programs

(978) 740-0444