Board of Directors

Board Biographies

Michael Ahearn, Treasurer

Michael Ahearn, a member of Park Street Church for 33 years, has served as its Church Administrator since 2019. He worked for nearly 10 years at Gordon College as its Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance & Administration. He was a Financial Program Manager for Massport during the redevelopment of Logan Airport. Mike holds an M.S. in Finance & Applied Economics from the University of Rochester Simon Business School, an MBA from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a B.A. in History from Colgate University. Mike also serves on the boards of Amira and Elevate New England.

Jean Alexander, Vice-Chair

Rev. Jean Alexander is a retired pastor with extensive leadership and board experience. She was the Maine Conference Minister in the United Church of Christ from 1997-2005 and has served on the UCC Insurance Board and the UCC Executive Committee, as well as two terms on the board of trustees of Bangor Seminary. As a member of the First Congregational Church in Washington, DC, she has played a pivotal role in keeping and sharing their history. Jean received a B.A. in Music from the University of Wisconsin and her M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary. Now retired, she enjoys gardening, singing, traveling, and reading anything and everything she likes.

Christopher Bennett

Christopher Bennett has been a member of Congregational churches his entire life. He grew up in the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church in Massachusetts, and, for the last thirty-plus years, he and his wife (a Yale Divinity School graduate, like Chris a “Cradle Congregationalist”) have been members of the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield, Connecticut. At FCC Ridgefield, he chaired the committee that oversaw a $5 million renovation project and continues to work with leadership on facilities and capital improvement questions and on financial issues. He is an officer of the board of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.

Chris retired from Verizon as Associate General Counsel after a career of more than thirty years. With Verizon and its predecessor companies, he held responsibilities in a range of areas, including mergers and acquisitions, regulatory, human resources, corporate governance, and general business law, and was General Counsel of Verizon International. Chris is a graduate of Amherst College (American Studies major) and Harvard Law School.

Richard J. Boles

Dr. Richard J. Boles is Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma State University. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Boston College and a Ph.D. from George Washington University. His first book, Dividing the Faith: The Rise of Segregated Churches in the Early American North, was published by New York University Press. It examines the transition from racially diverse churches during the early eighteenth century to separate American Indian and African American congregations by the early nineteenth century in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

Richard teaches courses in early North American and United States history, including African American history, Native American history, and American religious history. He has begun a new research project about religious interactions among Native Americans and African Americans in early America. His publications have been supported by a New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Grant, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant, a Gilder Lehrman Research Fellowship, an American Congregational Association-Boston Athenæum Fellowship, a Massachusetts Historical Society Fellowship, and other grants. He has been an active contributor to the Newberry Consortium in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, including as a member of its Steering Committee.

David Cleaver-Bartholomew

Rev. Dr. David Cleaver-Bartholomew is the Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations for the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. In this role, he advises congregations on annual giving, planned giving, and capital campaigns. Previously, David served as Association Minister for the Eastern Ohio Association of the United Church of Christ and has been the minister for churches in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, and New York. He has also held several positions at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. David has a Ph.D and M.A. in Religion from Claremont (CA) Graduate School, an M.Div. from Yale University, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, Austin, a B.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a B.S. in Accounting from the State University of New York at Oswego. He is credentialed as an Enrolled Agent with the Internal Revenue Service.

Richard Elliott, Chair

Richard Elliott is the Director of Facilities at Fellowship Christian Schools in Roswell, Georgia. Until his move to Georgia in 2020, Rich served for fifteen years as the Director of Campus Operations at Park Street Church in Boston. He became connected to the Congregational Library & Archives while working towards his A.L.M. degree in Museum Studies at Harvard University, researching and creating exhibitions for Park Street Church’s Bicentennial. A native of upstate New York, Rich has a background in fine arts, curating exhibitions, and in historic building and construction. He has extensive experience in historic renovations, including involvement with major restoration projects to the Park Street church and steeple.

Brett L. Freiburger

Brett L. Freiburger has been working in cultural heritage institutions for over a decade. Currently, he works part-time for the Hatfield Public Library and enjoys being a stay-at-home father. He previously worked as the Institution Archivist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where he fulfilled documentary footage requests from National Geographic, PBS, and others by initiating a digitization program for the Institution's tens of thousands of items in the analog moving image collection. Brett has worked as a Contract Archivist at the Congregational Library & Archives, as Print Department Project Supervisor for the Boston Public Library, as Library Director at Babcock Library, and as a Manuscript Assistant at the Schlesinger Library, part of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University. His career began at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT as an historic interpreter and collections assistant. Brett has a M.S. in Library & Information Science from Simmons University as well as a M.A. and B.A. in History from Central Connecticut State University

Sara Georgini

Dr. Sara Georgini earned her doctorate in history from Boston University in 2016. For over a decade, she has worked for the Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where she is series editor for The Papers of John Adams. Committed to the preservation of and access to rare primary sources, Sara has worked on the selection, annotation, indexing, and team production of nearly 20 scholarly editions drawn from the Adams Papers (Harvard Univ. Press, 2009– ), covering the history of American political life in the era from the Declaration to disunion. As a historical editor, she publishes authoritative editions of the founders' words; leads student and teacher workshops; curates manuscripts and artifacts in thematic exhibits; and brings Adams expertise (spanning three centuries) to the broad audiences of groups like National History Day. Thanks to the Historical Society's trove of Adams and Jefferson manuscripts, she teaches frequently on constitutionalism, founding-era thought, and the course of Anglo-American empire. Sara is the author of Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family (Oxford Univ. Press, 2019), and she writes about American history for Smithsonian. She is Book Reviews Editor for The New England Quarterly, a co-founder and contributor to The Junto, and president of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.

Maxwell Grant

Rev. Maxwell Grant has been the Senior Minister at Second Congregational Church (UCC) in Greenwich, CT since 2012. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, where his family attended Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims (NACCC), he has a long-standing interest in public history, with fellowships at the Historic Deerfield Museum and the Mark Twain House. Max has also held positions as School Minister at Collegiate School in Manhattan, Chaplain for Pediatrics and Obstetrics at Yale New Haven Hospital, and Pastor of Community Church of the Pelhams in Pelham, NY.

He is a graduate of Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale Divinity School (where he earned the Mersick Prize in Preaching), and the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Practical Theology. Previously on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, he currently serves on the Committee on Ministry for the Fairfield West Association of the UCC, and Day 1 Radio, a Christian preaching ministry.

Jonathan Guest

After graduation from Harvard Divinity School where he was a Rockefeller Fellow, Rev. Jonathan Guest became a UCC pastor at The Park Church in Elmira, NY, where he also taught religion and philosophy at a local college and maximum-security prison. While a doctoral student at Harvard in New Testament/Ancient Christianity, he was an editor of the two-volume Introduction to the New Testament by Prof. Helmut Koester, and served as a part-time pastor at Second Church in Newton, MA. Following a legal education at Cornell Law School where he participated in its Law, Ethics and Religion Program, he joined large Boston law firms and as a partner specialized in corporate and securities law (public and private offerings of equity and debt, domestic and international mergers & acquisitions) and institutional governance (including non-profits). After a law firm career, Jonathan was chief executive officer of a New York biomedical research foundation supporting research on neurodegenerative diseases and an adjunct professor in the Transactional Law Program at Boston University.

He serves on the Board of The Trustees of Jaffna College Funds (supports schools in Sri Lanka) and chairs the Investment Committee of Historic Massachusetts Conference of the UCC (now part of the Southern New England Conference). He also earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University and LL.M. in taxation from Boston University. Jonathan is a member of the First Congregational Church of Natick (Massachusetts) where his wife was the minister for 20 years

Thomas Knoles

Dr. Thomas Knoles is the Librarian Emeritus at the American Antiquarian Society, where he served as Marcus A. McCorison Librarian from 2006 to 2018, Curator of Manuscripts, 1990-2018, and Head of Readers’ Services, 1995-2000. He earned a Ph.D. in Classics and a Masters in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University, and has written and presented extensively on topics relating to digital humanities and manuscript editing. At present, Tom is editing The Diary of William Bentley, 1783-1819, for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. He is an Academic Affiliate in The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Project, University of California, Santa Barbara, reviewing and revising transcripts of Thoreau journals prior to their publication. He is a member of the Collections Committee of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Website Committee for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

Stephen G. Ray, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. recently retired as the President of Chicago Theological Seminary. He is also the Immediate Past President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. Having written and lectured broadly in the areas of Systematic Theology, African American religion, human rights, and the intersection of religion and politics, Stephen’s current work focuses on reinvigorating the public square as a place for all and reclaiming a vital expression of progressive religion in that project.

Prior to being called to lead CTS, Stephen held several academic posts including the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, the Jeremiah A. Wright Sr. Associate Professor of African-American Studies and director of the Urban Theological Institute at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; and lecturer at Yale Divinity School and Hartford Seminary.

In addition to his professorial positions, Stephen was the Project Historian and Curator for the Hartford Black History Project. In this role, he curated the two-site exhibition: A Struggle From The Start - Hartford's Black Community 1639 - 1960. The project, a collaboration between the Connecticut Historical Society and the Charter Oak Cultural Center, was at the time (1996) the second largest exhibition to deal with Black communities in New England.

Stephen has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies-African-American Studies Joint Degree Program from Yale University, a M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a B.S. from Charter Oak State College, Newington, Connecticut. He also has a Certificate from the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program.

Stephen is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served in several pastorates.

Linda Smith Rhoads, Secretary

While pursuing advanced graduate studies at the University of Chicago, Linda Smith Rhoads discovered her passion for editorial work when she became Managing Editor of Critical Inquiry. She went on to edit The New England Quarterly for over thirty years, retiring as editor emerita in 2015. In 2003, Lynn inaugurated a program for K–12 teachers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where she conceived of and launched the online, NEH-funded “The Coming of the American Revolution: A Web-based Timeline/Documentary History.” She continues to edit and write in retirement.

Lynn was Vice President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and is a board member of the Paul Revere Memorial Association. She is currently an elected trustee of the Adams (Massachusetts) Historical Society and of the Adams Free Library. Raised a Lutheran, she “converted” to Congregationalism, finding there a welcome home for spiritually-informed social activism.

Jonathan C. Roach

Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. Roach is a minister, theologian, author, and librarian. Jonathan earned a B.A. in English Education from Anderson University, a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, a Master of Divinity from Ecumenical Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in practical theology from St. Thomas University. He has over 40 professional publications including his book, Expressing Theology, which was published in 2015.

Jonathan served as Interim-Dean of the Library at St. Thomas University until 2016 when he was called to become the settled pastor and teacher of Stratham Community Church, United Church of Christ in New Hampshire. After moving to Hawaii in 2019, he served as the Branch Manager at the Honoka'a Public Library and the Laupahoehoe Public and School Library until the fall of 2021 when he started a new call as the Associate Conference Minister of the Hawai'i Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Nancy S. Taylor

Rev. Dr. Nancy S. Taylor is Senior Minister Emeritus at Old South Church in Boston, having served as Senior Minister between 2005 and May 2022, where, among other responsibilities she oversaw a National Historic Landmark building and collections of rare books and silver. Formerly, she was the Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, and before that she served churches in Idaho, Connecticut, and Maine. Nancy is an independent trustee of Pax World Funds, a trustee of Revolutionary Spaces (Old South Meeting House and Old State House), and co-chairs the Dean’s Advisory Council at Yale Divinity School. She holds a D.Min. from Chicago Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. from Macalester College. As Old South Church's materials are held at the Congregational Library, she has a strong interest in its sustainability and future.

Adrian Chastain Weimer

Dr. Adrian Chastain Weimer is Professor of History at Providence College. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her first book, Martyrs' Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England (Oxford, 2011) explores how puritans, Baptists, and Quakers imagined themselves within historical narratives of persecution, especially the stories in John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs.” Adrian has published widely on the history of toleration, devotional practice, and political mobilizing in early America. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Young Scholars in American Religion program, and most recently through 2017-2018 NEH Long-term Research Fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society.