Mary Zawacki, curator at the Schenectady County Historical Society since 2014, has been named the group’s executive director, the first in the 112-year history of the organization.
A graduate of SUNY-New Paltz who got her masters in Cultural Heritage Studies at Newcastle University in England, Zawacki will oversee the society’s house museum and library at 32 Washington Ave. in the Stockade neighborhood, as well as the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.
“Our region is a historic treasure, and I am excited to work with the SCHS board, staff and the local community to advance a vision of Schenectady as a vibrant cultural destination to live in and visit,” said Zawacki, a native of Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County. “This is a time for growth for both Schenectady and the Schenectady County Historical Society. Schenectady can be a leader in the field of heritage tourism, and it is an honor to be here at our library, museum and the Mabee Farm working to make that a reality.”
The SCHS board of directors decided to create the position of executive director after a recent strategic assessment of their facilities by the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History.
“Mary Zawacki has dramatically increased and improved our exhibits and programs,” said SCHS President of the Board, Marianne Blanchard. “She brings a vibrancy and creativity across all our endeavors, and through innovative use of social media and other media she has brought new audiences to the Schenectady History Museum and the Mabee Farm Historic Site. The board is confident that Mary has the strength, knowledge and determination to further advance the society as a major attraction and source of history in Schenectady County.”
Robert Weible, former New York State Historian and currently a board member at SCHS, agreed that Zawacki brings a creative energy to the house museum at the historical society and the Mabee Farm.
“Mary Zawacki is a leader among the young, idealistic and motivated group of historians well equipped to find better ways to make history a more meaningful and beneficial part of people’s lives,” said Weible. “Mary is the leader we need to bring the SCHS to another level of engagement with our entire community.”