NHA News Release: September 28, 2016


Staffing Updates at the Nantucket Historical Association

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce a restructuring of its Collections and Resources department as well as new staff members joining the organization.

The NHA cares for extensive collections, including (by definition) its many properties. Be it baleen or buildings, these holdings provide the essential foundations for the island’s stories. The NHA is fortunate to have many dedicated staff members who assist in collecting, preserving, and preparing these stories in ways ranging from publications to talks; exhibits to programs.

The NHA maintenance staff cares for the historic buildings and grounds; the library staff safeguards our books, archives, and manuscripts; the Robyn and John Davis Chief Curator and collection staff, interns, and volunteers care for the extensive artifact collections; and the Obed Macy Research Chair is, in fact, the NHA historian. Together, and in concert with the Department of Visitor Experience, these resources provide the invaluable underpinning required to enable the organization to offer consistent, memorable, and transformative experiences. In order to consolidate these numerous “museum resources” the NHA is assembling some of its various units within one new department, the Department of Museum Resources.

Museum Resources will be under the leadership of Cathy Taylor, who brings twenty-eight years of museum experience to the task. An alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute, she has been Director of the California State Railroad Museum; Executive Director of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation; and District Superintendent, and then Division Chief for California State Parks. While in her last role, Taylor received the President’s Award from the California Preservation Foundation. She began her career at the NHA as the Director of Properties, and for the past year-and-a-half has demonstrated impressive skills in managing multiple projects; delivering complex projects on time and on budget; all while bringing to the table an ability to neatly align staff resources to NHA’s strategic intentions.

Taylor will oversee the following areas:

Uniting these areas within the Department of Museum Resources will ensure more long-term and effective planning, increasingly prudent use of resources, and the timely delivery of outcomes.

Within this new department, Sarah Oswald (formerly Helm) has been promoted from Special Collections Librarian to Library and Archives Manager. Oswald grew up in southeast Michigan, and after graduating from high school and attending Kellogg Community College, she moved to Tampa, Florida, and attended the University of South Florida (USF). It was at USF that she developed a love of history, studying Ancient Roman coinage, and launched her interest in primary sources. At USF, she obtained a B.A. in Religious Studies, a B.A. in History, with a minor in Classics, and then moved on to study for a Master’s in Museum Studies at New York University (NYU). Throughout her time at NYU, Sarah had various internships in collections departments. From NYU, she moved back to Michigan to attend the University of Michigan’s School of Information. During her time there, Oswald specialized in Preservation of Information and Archives and Records Management, obtaining a master’s in Information Science in May 2013.

Edwin Rudd has also been promoted from Maintenance & Grounds Assistant to Maintenance Program Manager. Born in Kentucky and growing up in Connecticut, he was raised in an antique New England home where, from an early age, he developed an appreciation for historic architecture. Rudd worked at various construction and heavy equipment jobs while also pursuing fine-arts studies in Connecticut, Florida, and Nantucket. After meeting his future wife on Nantucket in 1992, they lived for eleven years in New Zealand, where he balanced a position in property management with self-employment as a watercolor artist and teacher. In 2004, Rudd and his family returned to Nantucket, where he has worked as a maintenance engineer for Nantucket Cottage Hospital and as a property manager for the Egan Maritime Institute. He is an accomplished artist, painting and exhibiting his works in galleries on Nantucket, Boston, and New York.

“Museums, like ships, are continually adjusting their courses according to environment, intentions (i.e. strategic plans); and the abilities and promise of their team,” says Bill Tramposch, NHA Gosnell Executive Director. “These recent changes reflect how we at the NHA are invested in continuous improvement, all for the benefit of the community we serve. We are very excited about the formation of this new consolidated department and those who have been picked to lead it.”

In addition to these recent changes, the NHA’s Department of Visitor Experience has hired two new full-time staff members: Elizabeth “Libby” Clark in the role of Visitor Operations Coordinator and Evan Schwanfelder as Manager of Education.

Elizabeth “Libby” Clark was born and raised in Saranac Lake, a small mountain town in upstate New York. She attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Religious Studies. While at HWS, Clark studied in Vietnam where, through various museum experiences, she began to consider museums and their role in bringing history to life for the public. It was also then that she began considering a career in the museum field. After graduation, she returned to Saranac Lake to intern, and later worked at the Saranac Laboratory Museum, where her love of history thrived. A year later she embarked on another journey via AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps FEMA-Corps. Libby was responsible for leading nine individuals across the country to various sites affected by natural disasters. It was through this experience that Clark found herself being drawn back into the history field. In 2014, she began her studies at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, working toward a master’s in History with a concentration in Museum Studies. Through her master’s program, Clark found herself in Nantucket as an NHA Public Programs intern during the summer of 2015. She loved her time working with the NHA and living on the island so much that after her graduation from UNCG in May 2016 she accepted an offer to return to the NHA as Lead Educator for summer 2016. Now, as the NHA’s new Visitor Operations Coordinator, Clark combines her love of history and service to bring history to the public in accessible and exciting ways.

Evan Schwanfelder grew up on the shoreline of Connecticut where he developed an early love for history, the outdoors, and the sea. Throughout high school, Schwanfelder gravitated toward the humanities and especially toward subjects that were immersive and hands-on. Maritime history always fascinated him, along with the stories of the early fur traders and explorers of the American West. He also developed a love of the arts, particularly sculpture and music, and he continues to pursue those passions today. Schwanfelder studied history at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Here he focused on the history of natural-resource management in the American West and received a B.A. in History. After college, he moved to Jackson, Wyoming, for many years where he worked as a full-time fly-fishing guide and manager of a local fly-fishing outfitter. It was in this capacity of working with the public and connecting to people from all walks of life that Schwanfelder found a love for teaching. He moved back to Connecticut and received his Master of Arts in Teaching with a certification in Secondary History/Social Studies from Quinnipiac University in 2011. Since then, he has worked as a seventh grade history teacher and as an elementary school librarian in the Connecticut public school system. Nantucket has always held a special place in his heart since he first vacationed here as a child. After spending this past summer working with the NHA as a Museum Educator and Historic Site Interpreter, Schwanfelder quickly realized that the island would be a wonderful place to call home. He is thrilled to accept the full-time position as Manager of Education at the NHA, and continue to explore all the wonderful learning opportunities that the NHA can offer the community.