Board Member Profiles
JESSIE LITTLE DOE BAIRD She is a linguist known for her efforts to revive the Wampanoag language. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010. She has a master's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to Wampanoag prophecy, a Wampanoag woman would leave her home to bring back the language, and "the children of those who had had a hand in breaking the language cycle would help heal it.” Jesse is featured in the MH-funded PBS documentary, We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân, by Anne Makepeace. She was appointed to the board by Governor Patrick in 2013.
ELLEN FELS BERKMAN has been a lawyer in the Office of the General Counsel at Harvard University since 2004. Ellen's current practice includes litigation, faculty and student affairs, research and regulatory issues, and collections issues for the museums and libraries. Prior to joining Harvard, she was a partner at two firms in Washington, DC, Baker Botts, LLP and Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, LLP, and a law clerk to the Honorable Joyce Hens Green. While in private practice, Ellen handled complex civil cases and criminal defense matters. Ellen received her AB from Harvard College in Fine Arts and her JD from Columbia University School of Law. She has served on numerous committees and task forces for Harvard College and lives in Brookline with her husband and two children. She was elected to the board in 2012.
BEN BIRNBAUM has worked at Boston College in marketing, communications, public relations, and strategic planning since 1978. His current titles are: Special Assistant to the President; Executive Director, Office of Marketing Communications; Editor, Boston College Magazine; Executive Director, Boston College Front Row; Executive Producer, @BC; and Editorial Director, Linden Lane Press at Boston College. Ben is also a writer of fiction and essays in publications that include Penthouse, Tri-Quarterly Review, Midstream, Boston Globe, Atlantic, Harvard Divinity Review, Image, Moment, Nextbook. He is the editor of a collection of essays, Take Heart: Catholic Writers on Hope in Our Time (Crossroad, 2007). His honors include Simon Rockower Award from American Jewish Journalists Association (2006); Best Spiritual Writing (HarperCollins, 2001); Best American Essays (Houghton Mifflin, 2001); God Is Love (Augsburg, 2002); forthcoming Best Spiritual Writing, 2008. Ben earned a B.S. at Ner Israel Rabbinical College; a BA at Queens College; and an M.Ed. at the University of Vermont. He is an elected and appointed official in the Town of Brookline, including Town Meeting Member (1996). Ben was elected to the board in 2008 and currently serves as Chair.
ELLIOT BOSTWICK DAVIS is John Moors Cabot Chair of the Art of the Americas Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). She came to the MFA from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In her position as Chair of the MFA's Art of the Americas Department, Davis oversees the Museum's extensive collection of art from North, Central, and South America, including one of the world's pre-eminent collections of American paintings, decorative arts, and sculpture. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Elliot was responsible for American, British and contemporary art in the Department of Drawings and Prints from 1992 through 1999, curating numerous exhibitions ranging from Winslow Homer and Mary Cassatt to W.P.A. Color Prints and the installations of baseball cards from the Burdick Collection. In 1999, Elliot joined the American Paintings and Sculpture Department to complete work on Art and the Empire City: New York, 1825-1861, the Metropolitan's landmark exhibition of American Art from the Age of Jackson through the Civil War. The accompanying catalogue, of which she was a co-author, was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the twenty-five most important books published in the year 2000. Elliot is a Trustee of the North Bennet Street School in Boston and a Councilor for the American Antiquarian Society. She received her M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. in art history and archaeology from Columbia University, completing her generals in European painting before choosing a dissertation topic in American Art. Before attending Columbia, she earned a Masters of Art in liberal studies from New York University and is a cum laude graduate of Princeton University. Elliot was elected to the Mass Humanities board in 2011.
AL GRIGGS attended Phillips Andover Academy and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1963. He served as a Naval Aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963 to 1968. He received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1970. He is a former Coca-Cola Bottler. Al is a member of several boards of directors including the Beveridge Family Foundation, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and a member of the Steering Committee of Leadership Pioneer Valley. He is an Emeritus Trustee and former President of the Williston Northampton School Board and an Emeritus Trustee and former Chairman of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and former Chairman the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts. Al and his wife, Sally, live in Northampton. Al was elected to the board in 2012.
ANDREW HELENE is a Vice President in the Private Equity Banking Group at RBS Citizens, N.A. in Boston. Drew received his BA in history and economics from Williams College, MBA in finance from Columbia University, and Masters in International Public Policy from the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Drew is a former board member of the Cape Cod Technology Council and resides in Brewster. Prior to moving to the Cape in 2004, Drew worked in Washington at the Center for Education Reform and edited A Tough Act to Follow? The Telecommunications Act of 1996, by Harold Furchgott-Roth, for the American Enterprise Institute. He also worked for ABN AMRO Bank N.V., syndicating loans for clients on the West Coast and in Canada after beginning his career at the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York where he covered Dallas and New Orleans. Drew was elected to the Mass Humanities board in 2013.
RONALD B. HERTEL is Managing Director-Investments of the Hertel & Konish Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. Ron is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional since 1984 and received his Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation sponsored by the Investment Management Consultants Association in conjunction with the Wharton School of Business in 2001. Ron's career spans four decades and his business focuses on individual family wealth management services, corporate 401k plans and not-for-profit organizations. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Ron was inducted into UVM's Athletic Hall of Fame, served as co-chair on the Alumni Fund 2002-2003, and was awarded the UVM distinguished Service Award in 2004. He is a past president of the Friends of the Winchester Public Library and the Winchester Jaycees. He was elected to the Mass Humanities board in 2011.
LINDSEY KIANG is a retired attorney and now an independent scholar and historian. His previous legal career included corporate practice in the software industry, specializing in intellectual property law, and an appointment as general counsel of Yale University. Lindsey is a past chair of the board of trustees of the Massachusetts College of Art and served on the Governor's Commission on the Future of the State Colleges, the board of trustees of the USS Constitution Museum, and the board of overseers of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. He also retired as a reserve officer in the Marine Corps, and after publication of his first book on combat art in Vietnam in 2006, his research interests are now focused on the air war over North Vietnam from 1965-72. Lindsey is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, and he and his wife reside in Chestnut Hill. He was elected to the Mass Humanities board in 2013.
LEILA W. KINNEY is Executive Director of Arts Initiatives at MIT in the Office of the Provost. She works with the List Visual Arts Center, the MIT Museum, the Creative Arts Council and the Council for the Arts to advance the arts agenda at MIT in the areas of strategic planning, communications, resource development, and cross-school collaborations, particularly with the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the School of Architecture and Planning. She serves on the Advisory Committees of the List Visual Arts Center, the MIT Museum and the Catalyst Collaborative at MIT. Leila is an art historian and first joined the faculty at MIT in the History, Theory, and Criticism section of the Department of Architecture, where she specialized in nineteenth and twentieth century French Art with an emphasis on media in transition, arts institutions, and artists engaged with modernism and mass culture. She also taught in the Program in Women's Studies and Comparative Media Studies (CMS). Leila received a BA from Agnes Scott College in English Literature and Art History and an MA from Yale University in History of Art. She was elected to the foundation board in 2011.
ROBERT L. PURA is President of Greenfield Community College. In addition to 33 years' experience as a teacher and administrator in the Massachusetts Community College System, he is also a proud graduate of a community college. As the first in his family to attend college and the child of an immigrant, he understands what a community college education can mean to students. “Opening the doors to higher education to all who aspire to a better life for themselves and their families while at the same time maintaining high academic standards is the noblest mission in higher education.” His passion for the community college mission was enhanced by his academic pursuits at The University of Texas at Austin where he earned his Ph.D. He has made presentations for the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, the League for Innovation in Community Colleges, Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University among others. He is on the Boards of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and WFCR. Bob is also a heavily fined Rotarian. He was elected to the board in 2012.
THOMAS PUTNAM is Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. He has overall responsibility for the Library's core function of collecting, preserving and making available to the public the documents, audiovisual material and memorabilia of President Kennedy and his administration. He first joined the Kennedy Presidential Library in 1999 as Director of Education. In 2003, Tom was appointed Deputy Director and in 2007 was name Library Director. A graduate of Bowdoin College and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Tom's career has bridged the fields of education and government. Before coming to the Library he directed a federally funded Upward Bound program that helped low income high school students to be the first in their families to attend college. Tom was elected to the board in 2012.
BIANCA SIGH is a young professional with unique insight into the Boston art community. After working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, (MFA) raising corporate funds for the institution she went on to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) to work with emerging artists where her passion for relationship building grew. She currently works as a Paralegal at the firm of Nystrom Beckman & Paris LLP in Boston's Fan Pier and serves on the PAC Board at Mass Equality. Bianca graduated from Bowdoin College in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in Art History. She currently resides in Beacon Hill with her boyfriend, John.
LISA SIMMONS is the founder and president of The Color of Film Collaborative, Inc., an organization of actors, producers, directors and others with an interest in creating and supporting positive images of people of color in film, theater, and other media. The Color of Film Collaborative co-produces the Roxbury International Film Festival and is a co-publisher of the Kay Bourne Arts Report, a multicultural arts newsletter. For the past six years, Lisa has Serendipity Productions—an independent film company that focuses on historic and contemporary multicultural video production—and has produced work for the Roxbury Cultural Network, Shirley Eustis House, Verna Meyers Consulting Group and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. She also serves as the Director of PR and Communications for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Lisa has received an Image Award from New England Film and Video Foundation, a Diversity Award from Our Place Theater Project and a Leadership Award from the Urban League Guild of Boston. She is an active member of the League of Women in Community Services and the LINKS organization and lives in Roxbury. Lisa was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2011.
JOHN STAUFFER is Chair of the History of American Civilization Program and Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Among the leading scholars of the Civil War era, antislavery in particular, John is the author or editor of eight books and more than 50 articles. His most recent books are The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize; GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), which was a Boston Globe and Amazon.com bestseller, a History Book Club featured selection, and the winner of the Iowa Writers Award and a Boston Book Club prize; and The State of Jones (Doubleday, 2009), co-authored with Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, which was a New York Times bestseller and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and on The Huffington Post. He is currently an advisor for The American Experience at WGBH, which is working on a documentary film on abolitionism that features Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. He was elected in 2010.
KATHLEEN C. STONE is a lawyer focusing on business and commercial litigation. Formerly a partner in a large law firm and in-house counsel in a bank subsidiary, she now maintains a solo practice. She has taught courses on American law in several countries – Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic – with the goal of fostering respect for the rule of law in all societies and increasing foreign understanding of the American system. She is a hearing officer for the Board of Bar Overseers, the regulatory body for Massachusetts lawyers. Elected to the Mass Humanities board in 2011, Kathleen also serves as a trustee of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, a private two-year college in Boston. She is the immediate past president of The Boston Club, a member organization devoted to advancing women's leadership, and previously was elected to the Council of the Boston Bar Association where she also co-chaired the Solo and Small Firm Section. Kathleen earned her BA at Oberlin College, with a major in art history, and her JD at Boston University. She was elected in 2011.