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Executive Director & Board of Directors

Executive Director & Board of Directors

Elizabeth Leidhold, our Executive Director, makes the museum's programming and activities possible. It is through her passion, tireless effort, and perseverance that we are able to serve our community, educate our youth, and share with attendees the wonders of our natural world.

The museums also headed by a Board of Directors, which seeks to guide its broader efforts, raise awareness of its activities, and raise funds for its continued and expanded operations. Officers are elected annually.

  • Karen Alves, President
  • Marc Sylvia, Vice-President
  • Michael Cronin, Treasurer
  • Maggie Payne, Secretary
  • Justin Barrett, Membership Officer
  • David Pierce
  • John Cederholm
  • Linda Harju
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Elizabeth Leidhold

Executive Director

Elizabeth (Hammack) Leidhold grew up in Wilton Connecticut, a suburb of NYC, which allowed easy access to one of her favorite museums, the American Museum of Natural History.  Like Elizabeth Taber, she also has a shell collection, which she started in childhood, and which she continues to add to even now.   She started college as a Fine Arts major but switched to Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and worked part-time collecting soils and plant information on several of Connecticut's salt marshes. Elizabeth has a BS in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from UConn Storrs and graduate coursework in Soils and Education from Umass Amherst and Leslie University. She was hired by the museum board when her first child was only a few months old, over thirty years ago, and quickly fell in love with Marion and the museum.  She has taught programs for both children and adults on a variety of topics and loves to work with the public exploring Marion's natural surroundings.  In the past Elizabeth has done volunteer work with the Sierra Club, and has served on the board of the Saugatuck Valley Audubon Society, and the Mattapoisett Lands Trust.

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Karen Alves


Karen Alves is partner and president of Marion’s own Design Principles, Inc. a marketing firm founded in 1997 specializing in graphic design, web development, and integrated marketing strategies and implementation.

Passionate about empowering people through education, Karen co-authored an accelerated 9-month certification program in graphic and web design which she taught at Bridgewater State University for 16 years. She has also taught at Tabor Academy and provides one-on-one and team training to Design Principles’ clients. Naturally enthusiastic about businesses and organizations that have a mission-centered focus, Karen particularly enjoys working with non-profits. 

Growing up in Southeastern Massachusetts, Karen’s love of nature and science was born in the best of both worlds between Cape Cod and Boston. At a young age she learned that there is no greater artist than nature itself inspiring her to become a photographer and create large abstract paintings following a method she has dubbed “entropy.” In her free time, she enjoys traversing nature trails with her three dogs and her husband/business-partner extraordinaire, Mike Cronin. They live in the tri-town area with their son whom they have imparted their love of nature, animals, and technology. 

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Marc Sylvia


Marc graduated from Boston College many years ago and is in business as a Public Insurance Adjuster. He has a fascination with the natural world, built his first telescope at age 13, and took up birding at the advanced age of 40, almost 30 years ago. He has served on the Marion Natural History Museum’s Board of Directors for over 17 Years.

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Michael Cronin


Mike is freaking awesome!

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Maggie Payne


Maggie Payne works as a Soil Scientist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. She is the recipient of the 2020 Soil Scientist of the Year award from the National Cooperative Soil Survey for her work on soil carbon dynamics and coastal soil survey. She received a BA in Biology from Colby College and an MS in Environmental Science from the University of Rhode Island. Maggie is a native of central Massachusetts and is currently a resident of Rochester where she serves on the town Conservation Commission and spends her time raising chickens, composting worms, and her two sons.

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Justin Barrett

Membership Officer

Justin is the Senior Manager of Development Operations at Manomet, where he is responsible for managing donor information, day-to-day operations, and examining donor analytics with an emphasis on maximizing the impact of financial gifts. He is also the president of the Nasketucket Bird Club located in Mattapoisett, which hosts monthly meetings and bird walks in the Southcoast community.

Justin’s appreciation for the natural world began during his childhood in Michigan, where he always possessed a great love for animals and a greater desire to care for our planet. This awareness was magnified later in life after reading environmental histories of the Great Lakes and recognizing the direct impact of humans on the surrounding world. In 2009, sparked by the amazing beauty of warblers during spring migration, Justin began birding in earnest. Now, more than a decade later, he is inspired to teach children and adults alike about the beauty in the world of birds.

In his personal life, Justin enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading, and spending time with his wife, two children, and fluffy goldendoodle puppy.

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David Pierce

David Pierce has served on the Museum board for over thirty years as president, treasurer, and membership chairman. He has retired from teaching math and physics at Tabor Academy for nearly fifty years. He has also served on several community committees including the Sippican Historical Society, the Sippican Philosophical Society, the Marion Water Committee, the Marion Energy Management Committee, the New Bedford Harpoon Harmonizers, and the First Congregational Church of Marion.

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