By Jody Blankenship, CHS Executive Director
On behalf of the Connecticut Historical Society’s board and staff, I want to thank three individuals who will be leaving or taking a new position on the Board of Trustees, Lynn Szwaja, Chief Charles Teale and Paul Beach.
Lynn Szwaja is completing her second term as a CHS trustee. A graduate of Yale and a resident of Norwalk, Lynn is a published author and expert in the museum field. She has provided the CHS wise counsel for 9 of the last 10 years. We will miss the encouragement, which often emanated through a crackly phone speaker.
Chief Teale has been a member of the CHS board for many years, serving as vice president, president, and now finishing his term as immediate past president. Mention Chief Teale at the CHS and you’re likely to hear a story about his meticulous research into the Hartford Fire Department, which he conducted in the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center. Or, staff will tell you how he helped the CHS secure the beautiful fire engine on display at the Old State House in the CHS’s “History is All Around Us” exhibit. People will tell you he sure can “cut a rug.” And, everyone will warmly talk about his passion for history.
Last but not least, Paul Beach will be completing his term as president of our board to take the position of immediate past president. Paul has been with the CHS for a decade, serving in various roles leading the Governance Committee, a vice president, president, and chair of the committee that hired me as executive director. One of the requests I made when I was hired was that Paul, then in his second year as President, would agree to be nominated for a third term. (Typically the CHS’s board presidents serve two, consecutive one-year terms.) Anyone who has been the director knows that one of your most important relationships is with the president of the board. Starting out at the CHS with a guy like Paul on the team put us at a big advantage. Paul is one of those people who understand the power of history, and he cares deeply about how the discipline can be used to make our communities stronger. While he will no longer be our president, I’m glad he will continue to serve on the board and be involved in the CHS.
Its people like Lynn, Chief Teale and Paul that make the CHS such a great place. Thank you all for your service.
Jody Blankenship believes that history provides a framework and context for understanding and thriving in our ever-changing world. As executive director of the Connecticut Historical Society, he understands that Connecticut’s unique narrative encompasses a broad swath of the American experience that gives us perspective about who we are and where we are going.
Before joining CHS in 2013, Jody served as education director at the Kentucky Historical Society and outreach and field services manager at the Ohio Historical Society. He is a graduate of the American Association of State and Local History’s Seminar for Historical Administration. He received an MA in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York at Oneonta, and a BA in History and Education from Ohio Northern University.
Under Jody’s leadership, the Connecticut Historical Society is collaborating with the numerous historical organizations across the state that are collecting, interpreting and sharing Connecticut’s story. He continually seeks opportunities where history can be applied for the advancement of the public good, supporting the creativity, passion and courage of our state’s residents to act on the critical challenges of our time.