Administration

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
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Ryan Woods
Ryan J. Woods is a twelve-year veteran of key management positions at American Ancestors / NEHGS. He serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of our organization. In this role, 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 AmericanAncestors.org, 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 AmericanAncestors.org, 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 and son Nathaniel, 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 rwoods@nehgs.org or by phone at 617-226-1205.
Susan B. Fugliese
Vice President for Advancement
Susan Fugliese
A member of the NEHGS leadership team since 2017, Susan is responsible for the Advancement department, comprised of development, member services, and advancement support. Fundraising and membership revenue is responsible for 60% of the organization’s annual operating budget. In addition, principal and major gift fundraising is responsible for endowment, program, capital, planned, and deferred income essential to NEHGS’s growth. Susan’s areas of focus include identifying and securing funding for NEHGS headquarter expansion to 97 Newbury Street, concurrent program support, the Family History Fund, support for key NEHGS elements such as the Jewish Heritage Center and the Catholic Records Project, and strengthening annual operating income. Susan oversees a highly-experienced principal, major and planned gift team, membership, stewardship and annual fund managers, and the areas of special events and Heritage Tours. Susan and her team work with trustees and councilors, individual members and donors, corporate sponsors, foundations, and others interested in greater participation in the life and support of NEHGS.

An American Studies graduate of Colby-Sawyer College, Susan began her career in philanthropy in planned giving at Massachusetts General Hospital, and then joined the faculty at Phillips Academy Andover where she fundraised, coached, and taught American Literature. Susan went on to create and manage advancement initiatives at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she created a program in Family Legacy; and Walnut Hill School for the Arts, where she was Dean for Institutional Advancement. Susan has recently moved to Beacon Hill.

She can be reached at susan.fugliese@nehgs.org or by phone at 617-226-1218.
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 beth.brown@nehgs.org or by phone at 617-226-1211.

Lindsey Havansek
Executive Assistant
Lindsey Havansek

Prior to joining the American Ancestors / NEHGS team, Lindsey spent several years in administration and event planning roles at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Museum of Science, Boston, where she worked with senior administration teams to achieve long-term strategic goals. Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Lindsey enjoys reading, cooking, and hiking with her 3-year old rescue dog.

Lindsey can be reached at lindsey.havansek@nehgs.org or 617-226-1220.