Newport Historical Society on Thursday announced the appointment of its new Executive Director, Rebecca J. Bertrand, who will step into the role effective January 1st, 2023. Ruth Taylor, who has served as Executive Director since 2007, is retiring.
Bertrand is set to oversee a broad range of initiatives focused on Newport County’s rich history: the stewardship of some of Newport’s most important historic properties, including the Colony House, the Great Friends Meeting House, and the Brick Market; the curation and maintenance of a robust collection of over 500 years’ worth of artifacts, documents, and photographs; and a menu of public programs including the Museum of Newport History and other exhibits, tours, publications, and immersive learning experiences that bring history to life in the present.
NHS Board of Trustees President, Paul McGreevy, expressed the Board’s enthusiasm for Bertrand’s acceptance of the position. “Rebecca’s combination of knowledge, experience, and a deep sense of connection to Newport makes her an exceptional fit for this role. Her leadership skills as a community builder, verbal and visual storyteller, and successful fundraiser will help us continue to broaden and diversify our audience, and bring in a new generation of members.”
Bertrand spent seven years at newportFILM, a non-profit year-round documentary film series, ending as Executive Director. During her tenure, she oversaw substantial growth in the organization.
Most recently, she was Executive Director of the New York Yacht Club Foundation for Historic Preservation, and previously served as Director of Development at the Newport Art Museum. She is on the board of Preserve Rhode Island and supports the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities as a committee member.
Bertrand has deep roots in the Newport community: she is a graduate of Salve Regina University with a degree in Cultural and Historic Preservation and continues to support Salve as a proud alumna. She holds a M.A. from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware.
“As a Newport resident, I’ve seen firsthand how the NHS team are trusted and respected leaders in the work of public history. I’m thrilled to be able to share that work with diverse audiences and to build partnerships with organizations in
Newport and across the state, region and country to extend our impact,” Bertrand states. “We will continue to open the doors to a truly extraordinary set of historic properties, and to share the vibrant stories and rich lessons from the past that NHS uncovers — lessons that will guide us today, and into the future.”
Building on the Newport Historical Society’s strong foundation and strategic plans, the Board of Trustees intends to work with Bertrand to enhance the organization’s activities and programs through increased utilization of their notable historic properties. This includes further thoughtful restoration and infrastructure upgrades to make the buildings more purposeful and accessible.
Ingrid Peters, Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Academic Services at Newport Historical Society, welcomes Bertrand on behalf of the NHS team. “Rebecca understands that the history we hold, embodied in our collections, is the foundation of everything we do. All of us at NHS look forward to working with her to continue to make history inclusive and accessible, and to highlight the value that this has for the public in our community and our society.”