Essex Heritage Announces New Leadership and Presents Partnership Awards

Regional leaders elected to serve on the Commission and Pioneer in Partnership Awards presented at Annual Fall Meeting on October 20

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 20 at the Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts in Lynn.  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 2016 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, 2016-2018

  • Jennifer Close, Peabody Essex Museum
  • James Muse, formerly of North Shore Bank
  • Susan Plutsky, Photographer
  • Sean Ward, Peirce Farm at Witch Hill
  • Frederic Winthrop, formerly of The Trustees of Reservations

New Commissioners, 2016-2019

  • John Andrews, Creative Salem
  • Gary Barrett, Crimson Hill Associates
  • Grace Harrington, Pierce, Pierce, & Napolitano
  • Mary Hillery, Bakers Island Light Station Volunteer
  • Bruce MacDonald, Boston Globe Media Partners
  • Rashaun Martin, Haverhill Public Schools
  • Ingrid Miles, Keller Williams Realty
  • Linn Parisi, Over the Bridge Tours of Cape Ann
  • Steven Richard, Lynnfield Historical Society
  • Leanne Schild, The Plummer Home
  • Rebecca Oldfield Smith, Wenham Museum
  • Margaret Somer, Massachusetts Small Business Development Centers
  • Keith Spencer, North of Boston Magazine
  • Terri Stephens, Ipswich Museum
  • Aileen Valenta, Constant Contact
  • Jared Ward, Eastern Bank
  • Jan Williams, Buttonwoods Museum

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.

2016 Pioneer in Partnership Award Recipients:

  1. Ronda Faloon, Cape Ann Museum: in recognition of her leadership and stewardship of the region’s cultural heritage.  During the past decade under Ronda’s leadership the Cape Ann Museum has strengthened its presence in the greater Cape Ann community, significantly enhanced the caliber of its exhibitions and programs, and successfully completed numerous preservation projects that benefit the entire region. Working with the full support of the museum’s board of directors, Ronda has successfully accomplished engaging new audiences by expanding the museum’s professional staff and increasing the museum’s hours of operation; spearheading a capital campaign which allowed much needed improvements to be made to the museum’s facilities located in central Gloucester; facilitated the nationally important "Fitz Henry Lane On-Line" project spotlighting one of the most important American artists of the 19th century; and instituted numerous collaborations with other cultural organization in the area including the Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library, the Gloucester Writers’ Center, Rockport Music, Historic New England, Maritime Gloucester and many others.  She has also strengthened the Cape Ann Museum’s educational staff and outreach efforts forging a vitally important relationship with area schools.  Under Ronda’s leadership, the museum looks forward to playing a significant role in the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Gloucester and Cape Ann in 2023.
  2. Maudslay Arts Center, Newburyport: in recognition of its leadership and promotion of the region’s cultural heritage.  Often likened to a “mini-Tanglewood,” the Maudslay Arts Center in Newburyport has long epitomized a successful working partnership. Shortly after the state’s 1985 land-saving purchase of the threatened Moseley estate, an amazing 500-acre tract of forest, gardens, and trails spread out along the Merrimack River, three visionaries, including former State Senator Nicholas Costello of Amesbury, pooled their ideas, planning expertise, and capital to create a performing arts center in the heart of the Commonwealth’s new gem: Maudslay State Park.  In April 1993, the state's Department of Environmental Management granted a special permit to their nonprofit group to pursue the creation of Maudslay Arts Center, Inc.  From the rubble and decay of an area known as "the farmyard," the partners designed and built a 1600 square-foot performance stage with seating for 400 in the midst of a natural bowl and adjoining hillside, all of which is shaded by the center’s magnificent trees.  Today, the all-volunteer organization produces a full season of live performances as well as offering a perfect setting for children's outdoor theatre, weddings, memorial services, picnics, and just plain enjoyment of nature’s glory.  Always encouraging the arts for youngsters, the Maudslay Arts Center offers free seating to children under 12 and provides space for a special needs camp in July where children can enjoy an outdoor experience.  Working in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the center funds the continually restoration and maintenance of the farm’s historic buildings as well as the operation of then center itself – all without public money.  Next year, the center will celebrate its 25th anniversary of providing summer concerts for the residents of Essex County and beyond. 
  3. Saugus River Watershed Council: in recognition of it leadership and stewardship of the region’s natural heritage. The Saugus River Watershed Council brings the nature of the Saugus River to life for urban and suburban people, and brings partners together to help protect that precious corridor of nature as it snakes its way through four communities to Lynn Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean.  In all, the 47-square mile Saugus River Watershed includes all of Saugus and portions of 10 other towns.  Founded in 1991, the Council and their many partners have taken on numerous roles over the years: they are advocates for a clean Saugus River, writing letters and testifying at hearings to promote smart growth, enhance ecological benefits, and prevent pollution; as scientists the Council is finishing a four-year study of water quality throughout the watershed that will help assess upgrades to water systems and identify problem areas; as educators, the Council has worked with teachers to help students understand and explore their watershed, and they also award an annual scholarship to a graduating high school environmental leader; and as planners, the Council is working with communities to develop climate change adaptation strategies.  All in all, the Council’s critically important partnerships make the Saugus River watershed a refuge for biodiversity, a learning laboratory for students, and place for everyone to enjoy nature.
  4. Mary LeBlanc & Annie Madden, Village School, Marblehead: in recognition of their leadership and promotion of heritage education.  Sometimes thinking outside the box means thinking outside the classroom.  That is exactly what Marblehead fourth grade teachers Mary LeBlanc and Annie Madden did when they partnered with the town and the local trust to offer their students place-based experiential learning opportunities at the Robinson Farm.  Situated right next to the Village School, the former 200-year old dairy farm is now a 3.5-acre conservation property is owned by the Town and maintained by the Marblehead Conservancy.  Using the farm as a new outdoor classroom, Annie and Mary tied the student’s project work to cross-disciplinary aspects of the curriculum, having them explore the farm in different seasons and conducting in-depth research on the animals that live there now.  The students intuitively perceived the need to raise greater community awareness of the special place.  To that end, the students spoke with Robinson family members, connected with the local conservancy, and went before the Board of Selectmen to receive permission to use the farm as an extension of their classrooms.  The students captured and shared their findings about the farm by creating an online presentation, a day of public tours which they developed and conducted for members of the community, and an exhibit of their work at the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center in Salem.  Through its design and execution, this innovative project exemplifies the power of partnership in education.