During an end-of-the-year success event on Dec. 14, 2015, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs tipped its collective hat in recognition of the staff, volunteers, partners and friends who helped make 2015 a noteworthy year for the agency.
As part of the event program, division director Tim Slavin shined a spotlight on several individuals and teams who had made significant contributions to the agency over the course of the year. To begin with, Slavin discussed the fire that struck Delaware’s Legislative Hall on Oct. 7, 2015, and the extraordinary efforts of state employees from a variety of agencies who helped recover nearly 200 historical objects and works of art that were on display in the building.
State employees who contributed to the recovery effort include Justin King of the Division of Facilities Management who removed paintings from the building’s walls during the fire; Dave Russel and Kevin Wright of the Department of Technology and Information who assisted in setting up Internet and telephone access at the temporary storage facility that was used to house the recovered items; and Ronald Johnson of Facilities Management, who, along with several staff and volunteers from the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, assisted in the temporary relocation of objects from Legislative Hall.
Slavin and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Gwen Davis also presented Certificates of Appreciation in Preservation for community members who helped save two historic sites in the state. In the first case, Josie Roy of New Castle County government was honored for inspiring a host of local partners to take action to preserve New Castle’s Mount Salem United Methodist Church. New Castle County Executive Thomas Gordon and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Sam Guy spoke at the event in recognition of Roy.
In the second case, Frank Calio, Shawn Larrimore and Mayor John Shwed, all of Laurel, were honored for their efforts in developing a plan to preserve the 1921 Laurel High School building. The division’s National Register of Historic Places coordinator Madeline Dunn accepted the award on behalf of her fellow Laurel residents.
Slavin also took time to collectively recognize staff members who have joined the division during 2015 including Chris Conley, Betsy Gant, Patricia Gerken, Scott Hayes, Renee Huber, Carlos Maldonado, Gene Modzelewski, Paul Nasca, Charolenne Shehorn, Laurie Turkawski, Bridget Wallace and Nicole Worthley; while volunteer-service certificates, presented by Volunteer Services Coordinator Rachel Wootten, were awarded to Carolyn Apple for 233.25 volunteer hours, Kent Slavin (196 hours), Laura Herbin (106.75 hours), Juliann McNelia (104.25 hours), Jim Schilling (98.75 hours), David Perlmutter (57.25 hours) and Larry Watkins (35.5 hours).
In addition, Slavin presented staff service-awards to Beverly Laing for 25 years of service and Alice Guerrant for 35 years; congratulated CARE Team manager Edward McWilliams for earning the Management Development Certificate from the state of Delaware’s Office of Statewide Training and Organizational Development; commended the volunteers of the Johnson Victrola Museum who were recipients of a Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award; and bade farewell to departing staff members Amanda Goebel, Sally Shorey and Rachel Wootten.
Finally division staff honored their colleagues by presenting recognition awards to the following individuals and teams: Extra Mile Awards to Charity Luksha of the Preservation Maintenance Team, Thomas Pulmano of the Sites Management Team, Michael Cinque of the CARE Team and Volunteer Services Coordinator Rachel Wootten; Biggest Impact Awards to the division’s American Association of Museums accreditation team and the staff of the Zwaanendael Museum; and a Lifetime Achievement Award to Sally Shorey of the Buena Vista Conference Team. Shorey was not able to attend the ceremony.
In addition to recognition of the division’s staff, volunteers, partners and friends, the end of year event included a review of the agency’s accomplishments during 2015 including progress on obtaining accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. On Nov. 17 and 18, 2015, reviewers from the alliance visited Delaware, touring the division’s museums and collections facilities, and meeting with staff members. Overall, the reviewers were pleased with the division and its programs, noting the agency’s “great work, amazing staff and terrific collection.”
Before concluding the day’s activities, attendees took the Marshmallow Challenge, a team-building exercise that provided valuable lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity. In taking the challenge, participants were divided into several small groups and asked to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow—which needed to be on top. The tallest tower, at 33.5 inches, was created by a team comprised of division planner Lynn Riley; and Zwaanendael Museum personnel including staff members Amanda Goebel and Gene Modzelewski, and volunteer Betsy Mahon.