BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
With donations from the Queens community and proceeds from the “La Dolce Vita” Gala, the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society’s Silver Anniversary in 2014, the DLNHS was able to create their first-ever executive director position, to guide the volunteer executive committee in its future efforts to revitalize both Douglaston and Little Neck, upper-class communities within Community Board 11.
The DLNHS recently announced they appointed Susan A. Mathisen, president of SAM Fundraising Solutions and vice president of New York City’s major advocacy group of historic neighborhoods, the Historic Districts Council, as executive director of DLNHS.
“It is with great confidence that we welcome Ms. Mathisen,” said DLNHS President, Bob Coddington, in a written statement. “We have no doubt that she will lead the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society to the greater benefit of the organization and of the community. We are grateful to our donors who have made her appointment possible.”
Mathisen was originally engaged to assist the DLNHS in creating a Strategic Plan to guide their efforts in the coming years, First Vice President of DLNHS, Stuart Hersh, told the Queens Tribune.
“We had already come to the conclusion that we needed the direction that could be provided by a professional executive director,” said Hersh. “We were so pleased with Susan’s efforts in helping us to create a strategic plan, and impressed with her background and record, that we were determined to engage her as executive director. We are certain that, with her direction, DLNHS will effect much positive and significant improvement in the Douglaston and Little Neck communities as we continue our efforts to preserve our historic past.
With a non-profit background and a career spent working as a museum and academic administrator, art conservator and development officer at locations such as Morgan Library, The Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the Conservation Center at New York University, the American Academy in Rome and Villa La Pietra in Florence Italy, Mathisen plans to expand the DLNHS with both educational and active membership programs. She also hopes to improve outreach to the community and create a stronger organizational infrastructure.
“As a native New Yorker, my connection to Queens comes in many forms from Sunday dinners at relatives’ homes to my annual pilgrimage to the US Open. I’m a strong advocate for preservation, and as such have helped many Queens-based historic houses and preservation groups with their endeavors,” Susan Mathisen told the Queens Tribune. “It’s an exciting time for the DLNHS, and I am thrilled to have been chosen as the one to help lead it into the future. The Board has been encouraging and supportive, and I have so many ideas I plan to implement.”
According to their data base, DLNHS was established in 1989 and aims to publicize, preserve and protect the historical significance of the towns of Douglaston and Little Neck, adjacent nature preserves, and those other sections or buildings of the two towns worthy of preservation through the collection, research, and dissemination of historical information to the public.
Some of the things DLHS has done for the community are raise funds for the replacement of the historic weeping Beech tree that graced the Douglaston LIR Station, address the questions of residents regarding the LPC requirements for a Historic District, prove continuing education, reach out in an effort to include the section connecting Douglaston Hill and Douglas Manor in the historic district, and conduct many historic walking tours in both Douglaston and Little Neck, said Hersh.
“I really want to see the DLNHS as a stronger cultural resource for the community; one that serves all constituencies,” said Mathisen. “That means we won’t just be the organization that can help preserve the historic fabric of our communities, but also one that celebrates that history, and makes it accessible to everyone. I look forward to developing new educational programs for both families and life-long learners, and also exhibitions and other activities that give residents a greater understanding of where they live.”
For more information on the DLNHS non-profit organization, visit www.dlnhs.org.