The Portsmouth Historical Society board of directors on Friday announced Ellen Fineberg will serve as interim executive director, effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Executive Director Kathleen Soldati will retire Dec. 31 after three years of leadership.
“We are delighted that Ellen Fineberg has agreed to accept the position of interim executive director during this time of transition, enabling the historical society's board of trustees to carefully plan and conduct a successful search for the next director over the coming months,” said Martha Fuller Clark, vice chairwoman of the board.
Fuller Clark said the use of interim executive directors is now considered a “best practice” for institutions when undergoing a change in leadership.
A 30-year Portsmouth resident, Fineberg’s public service includes 13 years on the Historic District Commission; guiding the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Arts and Culture; serving on the Portsmouth Advocates; co-authoring Portsmouth’s Cultural Plan and being a board member of Art-Speak, Portsmouth's Cultural Commission.
“Ellen brings just the right combination of skills and experience to Portsmouth Historical Society to serve on an interim basis – from her nonprofit expertise and her passion for community service to her familiarity with historic Portsmouth and the community at large,” said PHS President Dan Hoefle. “She is ideally suited for our current situation. The board is thrilled that she will be leading the organization beginning in the new year.”
Fineberg has held nonprofit leadership roles at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Women’s Business Center and NH Kids Count. She currently serves on the Portsmouth Athenaeum board and helped coordinate TEDxPortsmouth 2018.
Hoefle pointed to PHS’s evolution under Soldati.
"People have been so impressed by the Edmund Tarbell and Gertrude Fiske art exhibitions,” he said. “During her tenure, Kathleen built a stellar professional staff and volunteer support system. She oversaw expanded programming, needed upgrades to our buildings and the establishment of Portsmouth400. As a result of her work and that of the entire staff over the past three years, memberships and visitor interactions have increased dramatically. We are grateful for all Kathleen accomplished during her tenure.”
The historical society, is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit that operates Discover Portsmouth, which offers exhibition galleries, a welcome center and museum shop, and the John Paul Jones House Museum and Garden. Both downtown locations are open seasonally, seven days a week. Discover Portsmouth is at 10 Middle St. and John Paul Jones House is at 43 Middle St. For more information, visit www.portsmouthhistory.org.