Roberta O’Connor (Co-Chair)
Roberta O’Connor began her career in marketing and development focusing on interactive and web projects. As an account manager, Roberta worked with clients such as Prudential, John Hancock, Genzyme, Manulife, and Biogen. Since then, Roberta has started a retail business and obtained a Master’s degree in Interior Architecture. In her current position as Design Director of Preserve Services, Roberta’s principal responsibilities lie in designing and managing the company’s real estate projects as well as designing and writing marketing materials. Roberta lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two kids.
Monica Leisey (Co-Chair)
Dr. Monica Leisey is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and an associate professor in the Salem State University School of Social Work. Her areas of scholarship include the pedagogy of social work and issues of diversity and inclusion in social work higher education. Dr. Leisey has successfully submitted grants to both NIH and the DOJ and was sponsored to attend the HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Institute by the Council on Social work Education and Salem State University. Dr. Leisey co-chaired the Salem State University Collaboration Committee responsible for facilitating the University’s Strategic Planning process. She is currently serving as the Masters of Social Work program Coordinator managing the MSW program of approximately 350 students. She also serves as the Chair of the Development Committee for Voices Against Injustice, a Salem non-profit organization that celebrates the champions of human rights and inspires people to confront fear and social injustice with courage.
Christian Haselgrove is active in the Salem community, serving as a member of the City’s Neighborhood Improvement Advisory Council, founding director of Salem Volunteers, active in Salem Main Streets, a Friendship of Salem volunteer, and until recently, as chair of the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood Association. It is difficult to appreciate when he has time for his day job, which can probably be fully understood only by someone else who graduated from Princeton with high honors in physics. In his work for both the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Neuromorphometrics, Inc. Christian invents, develops and analyzes neuroinformatics imaging infrastructure and serves as problem-solving liaison between users and developers.
Elizabeth Lahikainen is an internationally recognized textile conservator specializing in historic upholstery. She has been a pioneer in developing many innovative conservation techniques widely used in the field today to preserve textile covered artifacts. She has worked for numerous private and public collections, including the U. S. State Department in Washington, and many museums and historic houses. She is the author of several articles on the subject and has lectured throughout the United States and abroad, including England, Sweden and Australia. She is the founding President of the Salem Education Foundation, an organization that champions the importance educating the youth of all communities, not only in core subject areas, but the creative arts as well. She has two grown children and resides in Salem with her husband.
Don White is co-founder and managing partner of March Second, Inc., a marketing technology and consulting business. He has extensive experience launching successful advertising and digital marketing agencies, leading software development teams, and managing large marketing and sales organizations. He currently teaches marketing at Salem State University. Don’s distinguished career began far from corporate life, but not so far from his love of working with people and helping them to succeed. After completing his undergraduate degree, Don taught high school English and History and coached the football and track teams at Immaculate High School in Danbury Connecticut. He later completed his MBA with concentrations in Finance and Marketing at Columbia University and spent several years as a visiting lecturer at Fairfield University.
Julie Whitlow is the Assistant Provost for Global Engagement at Salem State University where she has also been a professor in the English Department and coordinator of the Graduate Programs in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Julie has been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco and a Fulbright Scholar in Nicaragua. She is a native of New Orleans but she, her wife Olga, and their two daughters call Salem home.
Patricia Fae Ho
Community leader and advocate, Patricia has served in significant leadership positions with nonprofit organizations, addressing issues of equity and access to education and health care for women and girls. Patricia is the past National President/Board Chair of AAUW (American Association of University Women) based in Washington DC. She is board president of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association and on the boards of Wellspring House and United Way of the North Shore. Previous leadership roles include Peabody Essex Museum trustee, chair of the Essex County Commission on the Status of Women, president of Health Quarters, and board member with HAWC Healing Abuse Working for Change. She has been honored for her leadership by Lynn Community Health Center 2018 and Wellspring House 2015. Professionally, Patricia was Director of a Teacher Resource Center and a gifted education specialist, implementing a schoolwide enrichment model in New York schools. As a teacher trainer, she addressed topics in enrichment learning, creative and critical thinking skills. Raised in Hawaii, Patricia has traveled extensively and led AAUW’s Women in Leadership trips to Israel, Cuba and Poland. She and her husband live on the North Shore in Massachusetts.
Elsabel Rincon was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Salem, MA. She has over 15 years of experience working with social justice nonprofit organizations and community groups on issues including anti-violence initiatives, racial justice, immigrant rights, poverty relief, LGBTQ equity, and community organizing. Elsabel is deeply committed to the empowerment and integration of immigrant communities. She received the Kipp Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship through which she founded The Welcome Immigrant Network, a volunteer based program that validates the impact of the immigrant experience and empowers immigrant communities; while providing orientation, advocacy and support. Elsabel is a member of the Latino Leadership Coalition of Salem, the MA Women of Color Network and the Essex County Commission on the Status of Women. Elsabel holds a M.Ed. in Community Engagement from Merrimack College and a master certificate in Non-profit management and Leadership from the Institute of Non-profit Management Leadership at BU. Elsabel is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
Fara Wolfson has been an educator committed to equity and social justice for 25 years. After graduating from Brown University with an Honor Degree in African-American Studies and Women’s Studies, Fara completed her Masters Degree in Special Education at Johns Hopkins University. For the past two decades, she has written curriculums for national organizations focused on civil rights, race, gender and social justice, and she has presented at local and state conferences on a variety of different topics. In addition to being a special education teacher, Fara is currently active in the community as Co-Chair of Salem’s No Place for Hate Committee, as an ELL teacher, and as a photographer, activist, and ally with several community organizations.
Outside of Voices Against Injustice, Doneeca Thurston is a Creative Engagement Producer at the Peabody Essex Museum, developing public programs for a variety of audiences. Through her work at PEM, Doneeca has been able to engage the Salem and North Shore communities in conversations and activities around social justice, and has developed programs that highlight underrepresented voices within the museum. She is also co-chair of the museum's Equity & Inclusion Task Force, which focuses on addressing issues of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion. Originally from Lynn, MA, Doneeca still remains active in her community through mentorship programs and volunteer opportunities. Doneeca holds an M.A. in Public History from Northeastern University and a B.A. in History from Bucknell University.