An interview with Maryellen Burke, Executive Director, Portsmouth Historical Society

Maryellen-BurkeLeadership Seacoast’s inaugural Grad school, a three-session interactive experiential program available only to Leadership Seacoast alumni, will launch its opening session November 6, 2014

This exciting first session will feature topic expert from the area, including Maryellen Burke, executive director of the Portsmouth Historical Society, which operates the John Paul Jones House and Discover Portsmouth in downtown Portsmouth. Discover Portsmouth is a new cultural visitor center that promotes theatres, galleries, museums, and historic houses in Portsmouth

Read our recent Q&A with Maryellen for a sneak peek into her Grad School discussion.

What is a typical day in the office at the Portsmouth Historical Society, which runs Discover Portsmouth and the John Paul Jones House museum?

It often starts with email, responding to messages from donors and nonprofit partners. Someone amazing often then will walk through the door, and I’ll go downstairs and talk to them about all of the wonderful things Portsmouth has to offer.

I spend a good deal of time working with corporate supporters, and fundraising is a big part of my role, but there are also space rentals to coordinate, a gift shop to keep stocked with local wares, exhibits and talks to coordinate, and so much more.

A lot has happened since Leadership Seacoast was founded 25 years ago. What developments in the area have surprised you the most?

I think Portsmouth has figured out that its historic past is the key to its urgency as a vibrant place for the future.

Over the last 25 years, people have realized that the past makes Portsmouth unlike anyplace else. And that the city’s historic houses and cultural organizations benefit and are thriving from this historic backdrop.

People now recognize the connection between building an understanding of the past and how it contributes to the richness of how we live today.

What should people be concerned with as we head into the future?

Welcoming the city’s visitors, Burke says, because they are needed. There is no way the local residents of Portsmouth can support the cultural organizations and cultural activities that we all love and keep the taxes down, unless we embrace visitors and share all that we have to offer here with them.

To learn more about topics such as arts and culture, criminal justice and environment in New Hampshire and your community, attend the Leadership Seacoast Grad School.

The November 6 program begins promptly at 8:00am and will be held at Seacoast Media Group 111 New Hampshire Avenue, Portsmouth. Following the program, attendees will have an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Seacoast Media Group from Executive Editor Howard Altschiller. Cost to attend is $25. Register today!