September 9, 2021 – 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, September 9 at the Barn at Bradstreet Farm in Rowley. The business portion of the session focused the achievements of the organization over the last 25 years and all the partnerships, programs, and networks that have been formed during this time. The Commission also announced its newly elected trustees and commissioners, and presented its 2021 Essex Heritage Pioneer in Partnership Awards and Special Recognition Awards. You can view the recording of the meeting HERE.



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, 2021-2024


  • Angela Warren Ippolito – Swampscott Planning Board member and active community member




  • Laura Swanson – Executive Director of the Enterprise Center at Salem State University




  • Nate Bryant – Vice President of Student Success at Salem State University




  • Steven Immerman – Past President of Montserrat College of Art





New Commissioners, 2021-2024


  • Betsy Goodrich, Merrimack Valley Planning Commission




  • Julie Tarmy, Nahant Historical Society




  • Susan Lippman, former CFO of Essex Heritage




  • Dr. Kurt Steinberg, President of Montserrat College




  • Dr. William Heineman, President of North Shore Community College





Special Recognition Awards


As leaders of heritage organizations and supporters of the Essex National Heritage Area change roles or retire, Essex Heritage honors those who have made a professional or personal commitment to the heritage work in this region and thanks them for their service. 2021 Special Recognition Award Recipients:




  • Jim Beauchane for his years of service in the Essex National Heritage Area – Born and raised in Lawrence, Jim Beauchane has always been a part of Lawrence’s heritage tapestry. With his background in political science and law, Jim continued his graduate studies at Northeastern University, where he earned an M.A. in Public History, focusing on Lawrence’s French Canadian community. For his thesis, he conducted a dozen oral history interviews that are now preserved in the Lawrence History Center archival collection. Over the years, Jim has chaired the Bread and Roses Heritage Committee, served as a board member of the Lawrence History Center, and was active on the 1912 Bread and Roses Centennial helping the city commemorate the anniversary. Jim has crafted a career that not only preserves the stories of the Lawrence community, but also finds ways to help visitors and residents alike connect with the heritage of the area. He has been an integral partner for many of our programs, like Trails & Sails, A Park for Every Classroom, and our Teaching Hidden Histories forum. Although we will miss his leadership and guidance in the Lawrence Heritage community, we wish him well in his retirement and recognize him for all he has done for Lawrence, Merrimack Valley, and the Essex National Heritage Area.





  • Mayor Donna Holaday for her years of service in the Essex National Heritage Area – Mayor Holaday grew up in Marblehead and fell in love with Newburyport. She has lived in Newburyport for over 30 years and is currently finishing her third term as Mayor. She has placed a major focus on addressing long overdue infrastructure and capital projects in the city and her administration has generated more than $100 million in funding for the City, including two school projects, a new senior/community center, central waterfront bulkhead, roundabout, harbormaster boater facility and High School stadium project. With regards to our heritage activities, Mayor Holaday has been incredibly supportive of projects we have brought into the Newburyport community. In particular, the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway road sign and kiosk projects were successful in the northern region of Essex County in part from Mayor Holaday’s leadership and support. We thank Mayor Holaday for her decade of public service and all she had done with her leadership to support the Essex National Heritage Area





Pioneer in Partnership Awards


Each year, Essex Heritage presents 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. 2021 Pioneer in Partnership Award Recipients:




  • Heather Behrens and Salem Sound Coastwatch for their engaging place-based water quality and climate change mitigation projects completed through the Park for Every Classroom program – Under the guidance of teacher Heather Behrens, 8th grade science students at Peabody’s Higgins Middle School worked with Salem Sound Coastwatch to develop two years of engaging place-based project work centered around water quality and climate change mitigation in their community through Essex Heritage’s Park for Every Classroom teacher professional development program. Students monitored and analyzed water quality in Peabody ponds throughout both years, detailing seasonal changes, looking at macro-invertebrates that indicate water health, and testing for other changes in PH, salinity and turbidity. The students collaborated with a 5th grade class to share results and compare research. They also looked at the city’s industrial history to better understand how this might contribute to water quality challenges. When Covid-19 shut down in-person learning, Heather continued to gather specimens for students to analyze and they were able to put together a digital brochure about their findings. As Heather moved into a second year of challenges with Covid-imposed restrictions, she did not let this deter her from providing engaging project experiences, this time with a focus on local climate change disruptions and mitigations with support from Salem Sound Coastwatch. She had students meet over Zoom with the Middle School’s landscape designer to understand the design of culverts, rain runoff systems, and gardens all designed to mitigate the effects of water contamination and flooding associated with climate change.  Students took close note of these designs outdoors and tested these systems’ efficacy. When it was safe to do so, they had a celebration of this work at their school and invited partners to join in a clean-up. This project work truly exemplifies the stewardship ethic and collaborative learning in the Heritage Area that the Pioneer in Partnership Award celebrates.





  • Brian Sheehy for his leadership at North Andover High School and beyond and his commitment to incorporating all historical narratives in the classroom – North Andover High School’s history coordinator, Brian Sheehy, was contacted by his students via an email titled “action needed” in the summer of 2020. His students were demanding changes in the curriculum to better equip them to understand the roots of racial and social inequities they were noticing, and they wanted humanities classes to be more inclusive of diverse stories. In response- even though it was a year of unprecedented challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic- Brian initiated a vision for a comprehensive teacher professional development program aimed at supporting teachers in integrating local histories of traditionally marginalized communities into curriculum development. With funding from the National Park Foundation, Brian worked with Essex Heritage and many community partners, scholars, museum professionals, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other educators to create a series of three online workshops exploring Irish and Latinx immigration in Greater Lawrence, Black history in 19th century Essex County, and Indigenous people’s experience in the area. These workshops involved extensive primary source research, much of which Brian conducted himself, and led to the development of websites to house scholars’ presentations, panel discussions, pedagogy resources, and student responses to curricular ideas based on these “hidden histories.” The program drew more than 160 educator participants and 40 curricular activities were developed. It also provided a space for educators to collaborate and support each other in addressing these challenging topics with students, helping them find ways to make relevant connections to today’s society. Response from educators was overwhelmingly positive. One teacher commented, “This series of workshops has been invaluable, and I thank each and every one of you. I plan on spending the summer gathering as many resources as possible, so that I can make the necessary changes in the way we approach and teach history and other subject areas.”