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Faculty and Staff

For Women Making Change, we have compiled a dynamic team of scholars and staff to work alongside participants next August.

penni martorellProject Director: Penni Martorell
Curator and City Historian, Wistariahurst/City of Holyoke

Professional archivist and curator of collections at Wistariahurst Museum, Martorell has been Holyoke’s City Historian since 2010. She is an Oral History Trainer, Vice President of The Pioneer Valley History Network and served on the Massachusetts State Historic Records Advisory Board. She earned her B.A. in art history from Mount Holyoke College, and her MLS from Simmons College.

Her work at Wistariahurst includes organizing history exhibits and lecture series; presenting local history lectures to various community organizations and schools; and managing the collections at Wistariahurst Museum. She leads genealogy and research workshops; conducts information literacy classes; presents on heirloom and textile preservation and exhibition techniques; and consults on archival best practices. She lectures on Holyoke’s industrial history, the textile and paper industry history, and the Skinner Family.

sara englishInstitute Support Staff:  Sara English
Enterprise Coordinator at Wistariahurst

Sara English is the Enterprise Coordinator at Wistariahurst. She graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Hospitality and Marketing. Following college, Sara joined Four Seasons Hotels and worked at their properties in both Boston and London as Director of Catering and Group Sales Manager.  Her passion is weddings and she thoroughly enjoys planning and executing all types of events in the beautiful spaces at Wistariahurst. Sara and her husband live in Holyoke with their three children. When she is not transporting children to activities, she enjoys serving on the Boards of local non profit and service organizations.

JonGalanisEducation Coordinator:  Jon Galanis, M.Ed
History Teacher, Springfield Renaissance School

Jon Galanis is a passionate public school teacher at the Springfield Renaissance School, where he is currently teaching 11th grade United States History. He began his migration from the Boston area as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he studied history and political science. He continued his education in the 180 Days in Springfield graduate program, graduating with an M.Ed in 2007. Since then, Galanis has spent his career working in Springfield Public Schools, teaching United States History and Ancient Civilizations to 7th, 8th, and 11th graders. The primary motivations that drive his practice as an educator in a diverse, urban school include feminism and social justice. He lives in South Hadley with his wife, daughter, and dachshund, and enjoys running and cycling throughout western Massachusetts.


Wistariahurst Staff:

Photo of Kate Preissler, directorKate Preissler
Wistariahurst Director

Kate Preissler has been the director of Wistariahurst since 2015. She holds a B.A. in English and History from Bates College, and an M.A. in History and Certificate in Public History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her fields of historical specialization include 20th Century social movements; landscape and memory; and cultural landscape preservation. She holds training certificates from Origins: Developmental Design
for Middle School, the Center for Whole Communities, and the United Way.

Preissler has spent over a decade designing public and educational programs for cultural, historical and ecological sites across Massachusetts as well as working directly with schools to develop field trips, clubs, extended day, summer and after-school enrichment programming. Some reflections on her work can been view on History @ Work, the official blog of the National Council on Public History, whose pieces focus on public engagement and education at historic sites and museums. She has presented on such subjects as Tackling Tough Topics as Public Historians, Measuring our Impact: Creative Evaluation Strategies for Museum Educators, Landscape, Memory and Oral History: Case Studies Challenging Dominant Narratives of Community History, and Bridging the Divide Between Activists and Academics at conferences around the country.

Cheryl O’Connell
Wistariahurst Program Coordinator

Cheryl O’Connell is the Program Coordinator at Wistariahurst. She lives in Holyoke and attended Holyoke Community College before transferring to Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins scholar. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Critical Social Thought. She is interested in analyzing history through a lens of critical theory and centering marginalized narratives, both in Holyoke and across the globe. In addition to Wistariahurst, she is a co-founder of Biblioteca 451, a free library in Holyoke and Springfield that places bookshelves in businesses and community spaces, and also works as an Instructor at Holyoke Community College’s Gateway to College program.

Brianne Zulkiewiczbrianne_photo
Wistariahurst Office Assistant

Brianne Zulkiewicz is the Office Assistant at Wistariahurst. She is a graduate of Hampshire College where she studied Film, Media, & American Studies. Her current research interests and projects focus on American material culture, vernacular culture, and architectural history. Born and raised in Western Massachusetts, Zulkiewicz is passionate about local history and community engagement and serves as Co-Chair of Valley Free Radio in Florence, MA.


Visiting Faculty:

Dr. EileeEileen Crosbyn Crosby
Holyoke History Room Archivist, City of Holyoke

Eileen M. Crosby is the archivist at the Holyoke History Room, Holyoke Public Library, and manages a diverse collection of historical materials dating back to the founding of the city.  After graduating from Smith College with an A.B. in history, she obtained her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2004.  Her focus was on early modern European social, cultural, and religious history and on the history of women in early modern and modern Europe.  Her dissertation  investigated how men and women used the early modern German courts to pursue petty claims for damage to honor.  She completed an M.S.L.S degree from Simmons College in 2010 and worked at Amherst College Archives and Special Collections and the Springfield College Archives before coming to Holyoke in 2012. 

Dr. Mara DodgeDr. Mara Dodge
Professor, History Department, Westfield State University

Dr. Mara Dodge teaches courses in Labor and Economic History, U.S. Women’s History, Civil Rights Movements, The Minority Experience, and Historical Research and Analysis at Westfield State University.  Dr. Dodge’s areas of research and writing include labor history, women’s history, legal and constitutional history, and the history of crime and punishment. Currently her research focuses on the life of a Holyoke textile union leader, Anna B. Sullivan. Dodge received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. For many years she coordinated the History Education program at WSU training middle and high school history teachers. She has taught at all grade levels from 3rd grade to high school, including teaching history classes within the Illinois prison system. Her book, “Whores and Thieves of the Worst Kind”: Women, Crime, and Prisons, 1835-2000, received an outstanding book award and was republished in 2006.

Jennifer Hall-WittDr. Jennifer Hall-Witt
Independent Scholar and Lecturer in History and Women’s Studies, Smith College

Jennifer Hall-Witt earned her B.A. in history at Northwestern University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in history at Yale University.  She taught at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and at Denison University before coming to Smith College in 2001.  She teaches courses in European and American women’s history and women’s studies and especially enjoys offering courses that utilize the incredible manuscript collections in women’s history at the Smith College Archives.  Her course on Women and Higher Education in America engages students in research on the first three generations of students at Smith College using their letters and scrapbooks, and her research seminar on Women and WWI gets students working with the papers of the Smith College Relief Unit, a group of Smith alumnae who engaged in relief and reconstruction work in France during WWI.  Building on her interest in the value of local women’s history, Hall-Witt started a summer program for high school students in 2011 aimed at exposing them to college teaching and materials from local archives and museums.  Now called “Hidden Lives: Discovering Women’s History,” it attracts students from across the country to Smith for two weeks in July.  Her book, Fashionable Acts: Opera and Elite Culture in London, 1780-1880 (University of New Hampshire Press, 2007), combines cultural history with gender history and was named as one of the most promising first monographs in The Times Literary Supplement’s “Book of the Year” issue in 2007.  She is currently starting a project on the Smith College Relief Unit.


ECT Sojourner TruthEnchanted Circle Theater

Enchanted Circle Theater (ECT) is a non-profit, multi-service arts organization that engages, enhances, and inspires learning through the arts. Founded in1976, Enchanted Circle is the regional leader in the field of arts integration, using theater arts as a dynamic teaching tool in the classroom, on the stage, and throughout the community. Their work bridges arts, education, and human services. Enchanted Circle works closely with school districts throughout Western Massachusetts, in classrooms from PreK-12, integrating theater arts into virtually all aspects of learning – math, science, social studies, and English language arts – improving academic outcomes and social emotional competencies. ECT collaborates with over 60 community partners including museums, theaters, historic homes, social service agencies, and universities creating and performing original plays as a social justice platform that explores historical, cultural, and socially relevant themes.

SarahKilborne_byJaneO'Connor copySarah S. Kilborne
Independent Scholar, Author, Equal Rights Activist and Performer

Sarah S. Kilborne is an author, equal rights activist and performer. Her most recent book, American Phoenix (Simon & Schuster, 2012), was the biography of silk industrialist William Skinner, her great-great grandfather, and the father of Belle and Katharine Skinner. She writes for several online publications including Slate, The Huffington Post, Curve Magazine and the Advocate. She is also the writer and creator of The Lavender Blues, a new musical theater piece which tells the story of queer music before World War II and which she currently performs around the country. 


Kathleen Banks NutterDr. Kathleen Banks Nutter
Accessioning Archivist, Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History, Smith College

Kathleen Banks Nutter is the Accessioning Archivist for the Sophia Smith Collection (SSC), Smith College, where she also provides on-site student instruction, answers long-distance reference requests, and sits on the advisory committee for the Archives Concentration.  Since earning her M.A. and Ph.D. in women’s labor history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Nutter has taught at Smith and other area colleges and held an appointment as Lecturer in the History Department at Stony Brook University from 2004 to 2011. She is the author of The Necessity of Organization: Mary Kenney O’Sullivan and Trade Unionism for Women, 1892-1912 (Garland Publishing, 2000) and several articles, including “Women Reformers and the Limitations of Labor Politics, 1874-1912,” Historical Journal of Massachusetts Vol. 42, No. 1 (Winter 2014: 80-104).

The Women Making Change Teachers Institute has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed on this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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