Coolidge Standing Committee members posed with cardboard cutout photos of Grace and Calvin Coolidge. Russell Carrier, Julie Bartlett Nelson, Cynthia Simison, Lisa Downing, JoEllen MacKenzie, Katy Wight and Bill Scher. Oil portraits of Calvin and Grace Coolidge by Howard Chandler Christy on the wall behind them.  

The Coolidge Standing Committee is a subcommittee of the Forbes Library Board of Trustees and charged with advising the Trustees on Coolidge Museum operations and collections.  There are 4 subcommittees: Nominating, Education & Programming, Marketing & Outreach, and Exhibits.  The standing committee meets 10 times per year and meetings and agendas are publicly posted in the library calendar and on the city website.  The public is welcome to observe in person or online and a public comment period is at the beginning of the meeting. 

Committee Members 

  • Julie Bartlett Nelson, Head of Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum 

    Julie Bartlett Nelson has been with Forbes Library since 2004 working with the Coolidge Museum and the Hampshire Room for local history and genealogy. She enjoys researching and sharing history with all ages.

  • J.R. Greene, President

    J.R. Greene is an ephemera dealer and collector specializing in local postcards, Calvin Coolidge and the Quabbin Reservoir. He has researched, written and lectured on Coolidge for over 30 years. His latest book is Calvin Coolidge in 100 Objects. 

  • William Scher, Vice President

    Chair of Programming and Education Committee
    Chair of the Nominating Committee
    Presidents Book Group moderator

    Bill Scher is a political analyst, commentator, writer and podcaster. He is a contributing editor to Politico magazine. He leads the Library’s Presidents Book Group sharing his passion for discussing presidents and politics.

  • Lisa Downing

    Lisa Downing is the Director of the museum’s parent institution, the Forbes Library. She is proud to serve on the committee for the only presidential library and museum within a public library and values its emphasis on public access and education.

  • Blaise Bisaillon

    Blaise Bisaillon served as Director of Forbes Library 1979-2004. He enjoys sharing the history of the Forbes Library, greater Northampton area and Calvin Coolidge with visitors.

  • Dylan Gaffney

    Dylan Gaffney is the Local History Specialist at Forbes Library. He has worked in Northampton public libraries for over 20 years. He currently serves on the Northampton Historical Commission and has served on the Northampton Charter Review Committee.

  • JoEllen MacKenzie

    JoEllen MacKenzie is a retired teacher and school administrator. She currently serves as the President of the Friends of Forbes Library.

  • Dr. Eli Porth

    Eli Porth is a retired ENT with a love for history. He is a member of the Friends of Forbes Library Board and a volunteer guide in the Coolidge Museum.

  • Cynthia Simison

    Cynthia Simison is editor emeritus of the Springfield Republican newspaper. She loves writing about and sharing Northampton history with newspaper readers. Her grandparents owned a tailor and furrier shop in downtown Northampton where Grace Coolidge was a frequent customer.

  • Leslie Skantz-Hodgson

    Herstory book group moderator

    Leslie Skantz-Hodgson is the librarian at Smith Vocational Agricultural High School.  She loves engaging teachers and students with history and civics resources.

  • Rich Szlosek

    Rich Szklosek is a retired attorney. He is an Amherst College alum and holds a Master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a Northampton native and his parents owned the Imperial Bakery. He is passionate about local history, his community and early 20th century history. He taught in the Learning in Retirement program and is currently a tour guide in the Coolidge Museum.

  • Rob Weir

    Book groups historian

    Robert “Rob” Weir, Ph.D. is a retired history professor who taught at UMass, Smith, and Bay Path. He is a former Fulbright scholar who is the author and/or editor of 9 books and numerous articles on American social and cultural history. He has a keen interest in local history.

  • Katy Wight, Ex-Officio

    Chair of Marketing & Outreach Committee

    Katy Wight is a member of the Board of Trustees of Forbes Library. She is the Sales & Marketing Manager at a local scholarly publisher.

  • Lorna Blake, Emeritus

    Lorna Blake is the retired Director of Admissions of Smith College. She volunteered at the Coolidge Museum 1990-2017.

  • Daria D’Arienzo, Emeritus

    Daria D’Arienzo was the archivist at Amherst College 1984 to 2007 and in that role became involved in the Coolidge Advisory Committee at Forbes in the early 1990s. She has been a trainer and teacher of archival practices on a national level as an active member of the Society of American Archivists since 1982 and became a SAA distinguished fellow in 2010. She has assisted at Forbes with training and expertise in archival policies, procedures, preservation and best practices. She received the Forbes Library Trustees Award in 2019.

  • Brian Tabor, Emeritus

    Brian Tabor retired in 2022 after 49 years of dedicated public service at Forbes Library where he continues as a genealogy volunteer.  Still an active researcher, he was a founder member of the Coolidge Advisory Committee

  • Russell Carrier, Ex-Officio

    Russell Carrier is the President of the Forbes Library Board of Trustees. He is a retired high school history teacher.

  • Beth Myers, Ex-Officio

    Consultant to Exhibits Subcommittee

    Beth Myers is the Director of Special Collections at Smith College. She brings experience and expertise in the archival. preservation and digital humanities fields to our staff and volunteers. Her background and interest in women’s history and women’s archives will add to our interpretation of First Lady Grace Coolidge.

In memoriam

  • Dr. George Snook (1925-2017)

    Dr. Snook was a devoted member of the Coolidge Advisory Committee for over 20 years, serving as Chair 2004-2015. He had a love for all things history and an infectious enthusiasm and passion for Northampton area history and Calvin Coolidge. In retirement from his medical and surgical practice, he dedicated thousands of hours to Forbes Library and Historic Northampton researching, promoting, advocating and sharing history. He posthumously received the Trustees Award in 2019.