Administration

New England Historic Genealogical Society Staff

D. Brenton Simons
President and CEO
D. Brenton Simons
Historian and author Brenton Simons is President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society – the flagship genealogical organization in America, today serving 225,000 members and millions of users with more than a billion online records through an award-winning website, AmericanAncestors.org.

He recently spearheaded a $62+ million capital campaign for NEHGS and in 2017 launched two major initiatives: The Cornerstone Project, to expand the Society’s headquarters, and the organization’s Massachusetts 400 Commemorations through 2020. He has been featured on CNN, FOX, and PBS and in The New York Times, and has, at annual NEHGS galas in Boston, presented family histories to such distinguished guests as Ken Burns, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Doris Kearns Goodwin, Angela Lansbury, Cokie Roberts, Bob Schieffer, and others.

His most recent book,Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views, was praised by historian Douglass Shand-Tucci as “the book Jane Austen might have written had she run into Charles Dickens after his return from his Boston visit of 1842.” For his first volume in a trilogy of Boston histories, Witches, Rakes, and Rogues:True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775, Simons received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History.

In 2016 he received the Spirit of 1812 Award, with a special citation for excellence in non-profit leadership. He is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, the Club of Odd Volumes, a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a proprietor of The Boston Athenæum, and a board member of Plymouth 400 and The New England Quarterly.
Ryan J. Woods
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Ryan Woods
A ten-year veteran of key management positions at NEHGS, Ryan J. Woods has served as Chief Operating Officer of our organization since 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 in developing services and experiences to meet the needs of family historians such as the creation of AmericanAncestors.org, and he has fostered and managed important collaborations with commercial and nonprofit partners, including overseeing the recruitment of more than 1 billion searchable records to our website and the creation of our Jewish Heritage Center. 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 is 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, and immediate past-President of the Boston University School of Education Alumni Association. Ryan and his family, wife Karen and son Nathaniel, are strong supporters of cultural institutions in greater Boston, they are patron members of Plimoth Plantation, Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the New England Aquarium.

He can be reached at rwoods@nehgs.org or by phone at 617-226-1205.
Beth A. Brown
Assistant Vice President for Advancement
Susan Harrington

A member of the fundraising team at NEHGS since 2015, Beth travels the country identifying new volunteer leadership, raising funds from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support the operating budget, the Jewish Heritage Center, the expansion at 97 Newbury Street, the acquisition of archives, and other special projects. During her 15-year career in fundraising, Beth has worked with notable non-profit organizations throughout Boston such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-Mckim School of Business, Handel and Haydn Society, and Boston Lyric Opera.

Raised in Cumberland, Maine, as a child Beth became fascinated with family history thanks to her grandparents’ research and love of sharing family stories. She enjoys studying her ancestors from the Great Migration, early Quebec, New England, England and France as well as researching her husband’s Jewish genealogy. She is a prospective member of the DAR, with interest to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants and the Colonial Dames. Beth received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Maine, cum laude, and a Master of Arts in Medieval Art History from McGill University in Montreal. Beth and her husband Chuck live in the historic Boston neighborhood of Beacon Hill.

She can be reached by email at beth.brown@nehgs.org or by phone at 617-226-1211.