New England Historic Genealogical Society Staff

D. Brenton Simons
President and CEO
D. Brenton Simons
For more than a decade, Brenton Simons has led the New England Historic Genealogical Society ― the founding genealogical organization in America and the most respected organization of its kind in the world ― in unprecedented growth and to its pivotal role in the widespread popular interest in genealogy today.

An award-winning historian, Mr. Simons is the author of Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views, Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775 (recipient of the 2006 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History), and The Langhornes of Langhorne Park. He is the co-editor with Peter Benes of The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England. His articles have appeared in numerous journals and he was the founding editor of American Ancestors magazine.

During his tenure as President and CEO, the New England Historic Genealogical Society ( has greatly expanded its national scope and scholarly reach, successfully completed a $57 million capital campaign, increased its constituency to more than 150,000 individuals and millions of online visitors, added more than a billion records to its website, and received numerous awards for the excellence of its publications. In addition, it serves as the anchor location of the PBS television series, “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.”

Mr. Simons is a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a life member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, a member of the American Antiquarian Society, the Club of Odd Volumes, and the Somerset Club, a proprietor of The Boston Athenæum, and a member of the board of The New England Quarterly.
Ryan J. Woods
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Ryan Woods
A nine-year veteran of key management positions at NEHGS, Ryan J. Woods was promoted to Vice President and COO of our organization in 2013. In this role, he oversees all our day-to-day operations, including content and collection development, web services, publishing activities, research services, educational programming, financial operations, facilities management, and marketing strategies. Working closely with Brenton Simons to articulate the long-range goals for the institution and manage current business, our performance has blossomed in his tenure with substantial increases in earned revenue centers and massive growth in our total constituency. He has played a pivotal role developing and managing collaborations with commercial and nonprofit partners, including overseeing the recruitment of more than 1 billion searchable records to Earlier roles here included developing and leading research tours and education programs, spearheading a business and technology initiative, and modernizing the services and scope of our research library.

Raised along Lake Champlain in Vermont, Ryan earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston University with concentrations in history education and program management. He has served in several key capacities at other Boston cultural and historical institutions, including the National Archives and Records Administration at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. While at the Kennedy Library he was recognized by members of Congress and by the Archivist of the United States with a special commendation for outstanding achievement in public service. A licensed educator, he is the author of several education and genealogical articles and a frequent speaker at national conferences. Ryan serves on several nonprofit boards and committees, including as Chairman of the Committee on Heraldry, as a Director of the Seven and Eight Park Street Foundation, as a member of the Committee on Pretensions of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, as Secretary of the Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as Assistant Genealogist of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem–Priory of St. David of Wales, as a Governor of the Union Club of Boston, and immediate past-President of the Boston University School of Education Alumni Association. Ryan and his wife, Karen, are members of Plimoth Plantation and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He can be reached at or by phone at 617-226-1205.
Ted MacMahon
Vice President of Development and Member Services
Ted MacMahon
Since joining NEHGS in 2008, Ted MacMahon has helped implement philanthropic strategies that have resulted in historic fundraising gains for our organization. Utilizing twenty-five years of experience as a professional fundraiser and non-profit leader, he helped to develop and expand a culture that provides compelling opportunities for constituents to invest in NEHGS. In 2012, he was promoted to his present executive role, including providing direction to our Member Services and Constituent Relations team, a unit central to unprecedented growth in our constituency. Since the commencement of our “Connecting Families, Advancing History” Capital Campaign, over 25,000 donations totaling over $58.5 million have been contributed to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a tenfold increase over earlier efforts. During this period, gift commitments were made to more than double our endowment, to redevelop and launch, acquire 97 Newbury Street, greatly expand collections and online databases, build a new garden/entranceway, construct a conservation laboratory, launch the Jewish Heritage Center, and quadruple annual giving.

Originally from Lincoln, Massachusetts, Ted attended the Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Massachusetts, before earning a Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University and Masters of Science in Fundraising Management and Institutional Development from Lesley University. Serving on senior staff or as a Trustee, Ted has provided leadership to several prestigious institutions in Massachusetts, including The Home for Little Wanderers, the Head of the Charles Regatta, Belmont Hill School, The Fenn School, and the Harvard Conservation Trust. Elected by his peers, he has served as the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. During his tenure, Ted has greatly enjoyed exploring his family roots in New England, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.

You can email Ted at or contact him at 617-226-1218.
Susan Harrington
Assistant to the President and CEO
Susan Harrington
Susan is a long-time member of NEHGS and joined the staff in 2013. Her career has spanned several years supporting executives at the headquarters of a multi-national corporation and, more recently, at a private trust and investment firm, both in Boston. She holds a B.A. degree, magna cum laude, from Bates College, majored in French and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Her interest in genealogy and history began as a teenager and has led to research in New England (focusing on Great Migration settlers), Ohio, the Mid-Atlantic States and the British Isles in particular. She also has an interest in Native American, European and royal genealogy. Susan enjoys helping to organize reunions of her far-flung family members and encouraging younger generations to explore their ancestry. She can be reached at or by phone at 617-226-1220.