American Ancestors / New England Historic Genealogical Society Staff

D. Brenton Simons
President and CEO
D. Brenton Simons

D. Brenton Simons has changed the face of nonprofit-based genealogy in America by bringing the best scholarship to millions of users for more than a decade as President and CEO of AmericanAncestors and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. He has overseen an historic expansion of the organization ― the founding genealogical institution in America ― which now serves more than 250,000 members and millions of online users with 1.4 billion records. An industry leader for twenty-five years through various positions at the Society, he is proud to head the world’s premier scholarly genealogical program and he is a champion of multi-partner collaboration in the genealogy and history communities.

An award-winning author, Brenton Simons has been featured on CNN, FOX, BBC, PBS-TV, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His most recent book, Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views, was hailed by the late 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.” An earlier book ― Witches, Rakes, and Rogues ― is a critically acclaimed and popular anthology of pre-Federal Boston nonfiction history stories that has never gone out of print.

Mr. Simons is a Board Member of Plymouth 400 and The New England Quarterly, and is a member of the American Antiquarian Society, the Society of the Cincinnati, the Club of Odd Volumes, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the Society of Colonial Wars (in Massachusetts and Florida), a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a proprietor of The Boston Athenæum, among many other affiliations.

He is a recipient of the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History and the Spirit of 1812 Award from the National Society United States Daughters of 1812.

Ryan J. Woods
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Ryan Woods
Ryan J. Woods is a thirteen-year veteran of key management positions at American Ancestors / NEHGS. He serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of our organization as well as Clerk of the Council of the Corporation. In his roles, he provides executive oversight for the day-to-day operations of our seventeen activity areas including content and collection development, web services, publishing activities, research services, educational programming, financial operations, facilities management, marketing strategies, and business planning.

He has played a key role in developing services and experiences to meet twenty-first-century research and information access requirements. He was the lead creator of, our award-winning website and the most-used genealogical society website in the world. He has fostered and managed important collaborations with commercial and nonprofit partners, including overseeing the recruitment of more than 1 billion searchable records to, and he was a lead staff member in the establishment of our Jewish Heritage Center. Currently, Ryan is focused on partnerships, and business planning for our headquarter expansion and the creation of a national visitor destination experience.

A dedicated researcher, Ryan has authored pedagogical articles about the use of historical biographies to teach character and ethics. He has also contributed genealogical articles and several book forewords for historical and genealogical publications; he regularly presents at national historical and genealogical conferences and events.

Ryan serves on several nonprofit boards and committees, including as Chairman of the Committee on Heraldry, 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 a development committee member for Plymouth 400, as partner representative on the Mayor of Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, and as immediate past-President of the Boston University School of Education Alumni Association. He is also a member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Florida, and the Saint Nicholas Society of New York City.

Ryan and his family, wife Karen, son Nathaniel and daughter Abigail, are strong supporters of cultural institutions in greater Boston; they are patron members of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Plimoth Plantation, Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the New England Aquarium. He can be reached at or by phone at 617-226-1205.
Ted MacMahon
Interim Vice President for Advancement
Ted MacMahon
Ted brings two decades of fundraising and capital campaign experience to NEHGS. He was previously Director of Institutional Advancement at The Fenn School and Vice President for Development at The Home for Little Wanderers in Boston. He was president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Massachusetts Chapter, 2003-2006, and is a certified fundraising executive (CFRE).

You can email Ted at or schedule a call at
Beth A. Brown
Assistant Vice President for Advancement
Beth A. Brown

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 or by phone at 617-226-1211.

Olivia Terrell
Executive Assistant
Olivia Terrell

Olivia Terrell has worked in the financial services industry, community based organizations, and health care management. She is always looking for an opportunity to help and learn from others.

In March 2020, she joined NEHGS as Executive Assistant to the President and Chief Executive Officer. She worked as an Executive Assistant at Bank of Boston and Training Coordinator during the merger and acquisition between FleetBoston and Bank of America. Also, worked as a Residency Program Coordinator and Graduate Medical Education Coordinator at the Boston Medical Center for over 11 years.

She obtained an Executive Assistant Program Certificate at Gibbs College and has held numerous volunteer positions and received some significant honors, including the Gail Snowden Legacy Award; former Board of Directors, Member and Chair of Development Committee, Freedom House; YMCA Black Achievers Award; African American Resource Group Steering Committee, FleetBoston; Team Captain for Making Strides Against Cancer Walk, and more.

She can be reached by email at or by phone at 617-226-1220