Board of Directors

Charles Nazarian, President

Charles is the founding president of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation. His deep appreciation for the historic and cultural significance of the 1806 Meetinghouse has been the driving force in his determination to lead its preservation. Maintaining a successful practice in historically informed residential architecture for many years, Charles brings particular expertise to building design, structure, and systems. In addition to his practice in Cape Ann architecture, Charles serves as the visual design consultant for the world renowned C.B. Fisk Company, designers and builders of pipe organs.

Dick Prouty, Treasurer

Dick is a life-long educator. He has held various leadership positions at the Waring School and is the former President of the noted experiential learning program, Project Adventure, in Beverly, Massachusetts. He is a founding member of the board and treasurer of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation and former board chair of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church. As co-chair of TownGreen2025 for the past five years, Dick has organized numerous educational and community-based programs relating to sustainability and climate change. In addition to his role as treasurer, Dick brings a history of successful leadership in strategic planning, board development, and organizational management to the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation.

Sandra Ronan, VP Events

Sandra has been a practicing LICSW for more than 50 years and is co-partner in an established Gloucester clinical social work practice. She is the vice president for events of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation and brings extensive experience in organizational leadership and planning. For the past three years, Sandra has successfully led the events committee of the Foundation in the organization and delivery of its annual summer music festival, Music on Meetinghouse Green, as well as its fall and winter series of concerts and events.

Karen Neva Bell, Secretary

Karen N. Bell lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Now retired, her professional career included various positions in maternal and child health research, advocacy, and teaching at the university level. Current volunteer commitments in addition to the GMF include board positions on the City of Gloucester Trust Fund the Northeast Hospital Corporation, and the Sawyer Free Library Foundation. Karen received a BA from Harvard University (1970), a Licenciate in Health Education from the University of Chile (1974), and a Master’s of Public Health from Columbia University (1976).

Jerry Ackerman, Marketing and Communications Advisor

Jerry brought his experience as a reporter and editor for national and regional newspapers to a position as staff writer and editor at the Boston Globe, a position he held for 30 years. His work has earned him numerous awards and accolades as a writer, editor, and researcher. As city editor he shared in the Globe's receipt of the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and later as a staff business writer he helped create the paper's first Technology section. His academic credentials include a Professional Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. Jerry has turned his attention to mentoring and supporting the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs. He is a mentor with the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, which encourages emerging entrepreneurs, and has been a consultant to other startup businesses and non-profits. His experience and expertise are in high demand as a board member. He was a founding principal of First Founders Limited, a founding director of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation, a member of the board of the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, and has served on the board of the Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester. His specializations include communication strategy, editorial and representative services for writers, and grantwriting.

J.J. Bell

J.J. worked for The Druker Company, Ltd for 25 years and served as the executive vice president and partner. This Boston-based real estate development company specializes in urban multi-use offices, residences, hotels, and retail. Since retiring 10 years ago, J.J. has been actively involved in leadership roles with several local organizations including vice chair of the board of the Cape Ann Museum, the City Hall Restoration Commission, and co-chair of the Gloucester Community Preservation Committee. J.J. is a founding director of the board of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation organized in 2015.

Peter Calkins

Originally trained as an architect, Peter brings to the board the experience of a long career in real estate development, managing the design and construction of life science, office and retail buildings in mixed-use settings. A lifelong UU, Peter has also served his church communities in various ways, most recently co-chairing both the capital campaign and building committees for a significant renovation/addition at North Parish Church in North Andover. Since moving to Gloucester in 2015, Peter has been exploring opportunities to become more involved in the local community, and looks forward to contributing his energy and skills to assisting with the preservation of the Meetinghouse and the broader objectives of the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation.

Caleb Friday

Caleb Friday brings many years of non-profit accounting and finance experience in his role as a board member. He is currently the director of finance and operations for Root NS, Inc., an organization that provides workforce training for teens and young adults. He previously served in the same capacity for Wellspring House, Inc., a local non-profit that provides shelter services for families facing homelessness, after having worked for the Massachusetts House Ways & Means Committee.

David Rhinelander

David Rhinelander, whose 1760 house is in the UU Church neighborhood and backs up on the UU Church Burial Ground, has been involved in preserving buildings and neighborhoods for decades in Gloucester and in Connecticut, where he lived for 50 years while working for The Hartford Courant as medical and science writer. He was chairman of Connecticut Landmark and Antiquarian Society until moving to Gloucester, where he soon became chairman of the Gloucester Historical Commission. The commission has successfully preserved and promoted the use of many structures and neighborhoods. That is precisely what the Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation is doing today, and Rhinelander’s past experiences align with the goals of the Gloucester Meeting House Foundation.

Rev. Janet Parsons, ex officio

Reverend Janet Parsons was called to the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church in 2015. Prior to entering the ministry she was active in affordable housing planning, local government, and social justice work, including participation in 10 relief trips to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While serving in Gloucester, Rev. Janet has been helping lead the Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust project, bringing awareness of the presence of enslaved people and the slave economy here on Cape Ann, and also is actively involved with the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann.