BALLSTON SPA — Seven members were added to the Saratoga County Historical Society’s Board of Trustees at its first meeting of 2020 on Jan. 21. These individuals came forward as part of the outpouring of support for the society and Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa after the announcement last October that the institution had run out of funds. To date, a campaign mounted to raise $100,000 by March 31, 2020, to provide the Society with funding as it reorganizes, has reached 85% of its goal.
The new members of the Saratoga County History Society Board of Trustees are:
Jere Blackwelder, a native of Georgia, the Director of Byran, TX’s Habitat for Humanity “Restore” Operation before retiring to the Town of Ballston in 2011. He has taken leadership positions in the Rotary and Ballston Spa Business and Profession Assn. His focus is public relations and communications, skills which he will bring to the forefront in his new role.
Mark Blech, a painter and sculptor, and the organizer of Ballston Spa’s annual Holiday Displays and Bird House competitions. In 2019, he designed the exterior chicken exhibit at Brookside Museum. Prior to relocating to Ballston Spa in 2014, he designed and fabricated props for the movie and ad industries in Los Angeles and Atlanta. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at Irvine and undergraduate degree in Ceramics from Alfred University. He hopes to make the arts and arts education integral to the mission of the Museum.
Isobel Connell, of Clifton Park, who earned her PhD in Theoretical Mechanics from the University of Nottingham, England and came to this country in 1986 and was an engineer at GE for over 25 years. She has been active in youth activities, a founder of the Sherwood Forest Civic Assoc., and a Brookside Museum volunteer.
John Cromie, the Historical Society’s first paid employee in the museum’s early days. He served as President of the Society’s board from 1982-83. A local attorney and historian, he has also holds a Master in Public Administration from the Maxwell School, and has been on numerous local and regional non-profit boards.
Michael Landis, who holds a PhD in History from George Washington University and has taught at colleges in Connecticut, Texas, and New York. Specializing in the Antebellum and Civil War periods, he is the author of Northern Men with Southern Loyalties, a Choice Magazine selection for Outstanding Academic Title. A resident of the Town of Milton, he hopes to tie Historical Society’s programs to college curricula.
Nora Osuchowski, the Executive Director of the Ballston Area Recreation Commission, where she works with parents to provide programs in athletics, education, and the arts for area youth. Prior to her position at BARC, she directed and coordinated services for individuals with disabilities.
Maureen Walsh, a Milton resident since 2000, is an Enrolled Agent and Associate Financial Advisor at Canty Financial Management, Inc. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in History/Geography from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She has more 30 years experience in the tax industry including 18 years in the Financial Services Industry focusing on Investment Advisory.
“The goal of the Board of Trustees is to reevaluate the operations of the Historical Society and integrate its resources with the needs of Saratoga County residents, as a way of assuring its future economic viability,” noted K. Michelle Arthur, Executive Director at the Brookside Museum. “I am looking forward to working with this expanded Board of Trustees to reach our immediate funding goal—and to launching new, exciting, and meaningful programs that serve our community.”
The Brookside Museum, located at 6 Charlton Street in Ballston Spa, has a mission to keep history alive through interactive educational programs and innovative exhibits that engage the community. Recent exhibits have highlighted unsung parts of the community, notably, last summer’s CHICKEN! exhibit, which drew a record number of families to the Museum, and told the story of Saratoga County poultry farms.