Board of Directors

Wray Gunn, Sr., Chair, a longtime member and trustee of the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church, is a fifth-generation descendant of Agrippa Hull, with deep family roots in the Berkshires that date back to the Revolutionary War. He retired from Pfizer Industrials after a 40-year career as an analytical chemist. He currently serves on the board of the Olga Dunn Dance Company and is a member of the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site Working Committee, Friends of the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite, and the advisory council of the Upper Housatonic Valley African- American Heritage Trail.

Dennis Powell, Vice Chair, is president of the Berkshire County Unit of the NAACP. A retired culinary educator and executive in the food service and hospitality industry,  Dennis prepared meals for the homeless at St. Stephen’s Church in Pittsfield for more than 12 years. He currently serves on the Pittsfield Licensing Board.

Sam Nickerson, Treasurer,  is President of Ecos Properties, a development and property management company based in Berkshire County focused on adaptive reuse development, and mixed-use properties. He has over 20 years of professional investing experience, including commercial real estate, public equities, and venture capital. Sam lives in Great Barrington with his wife, two children, and a French Bulldog.

Cora Portnoff, Secretary, a former teacher of the hearing impaired, was a longtime member of the Clinton A.M.E. Church, where she was involved in various church activities with the late Reverend Esther Dozier, the Church’s first female pastor. She has served on the board of the Olga Dunn Dance Company for more than 30 years and is a member of the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site Working Committee.

Beth Carlson is a partner in Silo Media, a design firm specializing in graphics, website and video production. She is the board president of the historic Dewey Hall in Sheffield, and producer of TapRoot Sessions, a traditional music series. As a community activist, Beth was a key player in the effort to save the historic Searles School in Great Barrington.

Rachel Fletcher is a geometer/designer, restoration planner, curator of museum exhibits on geometry, and author of Infinite Measure: Learning to Design in Geometric Harmony with Art, Architecture and Nature. A resident of Great Barrington since 1981, she was the founding director of the town’s Housatonic River Walk and its W. E. B. Du Bois River Park, founding co-director of the Friends of the Du Bois Homesite, and remains co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail.

Frances Jones-Sneed is a Professor Emeritus of History, Political Science and Public Policy at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and associate editor of African American Heritage In the Upper Housatonic Valley. She is co-director of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail and a trustee at the Samuel Harrison House in Pittsfield.

Will Singleton, is a retired public school educator and administrator. He is the past president of the Berkshire County Chapter of the NAACP, the reactivation of which he initiated in 2012. He currently serves on the board of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College.

Johnathan Speer is the Diversity and Inclusion Educator and a member of the English and History faculty at Berkshire School. He specializes in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on social justice pedagogy and leadership frameworks. Hailing from Montgomery, Alabama, John is new to the Berkshires. He has served as a curriculum specialist and coach in Asheville, Atlanta, and Seattle independent schools for over 9 years.

Dan Bolognani, ex officio, is executive director of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, a program of the National Park Service. Housatonic Heritage’s initiatives include the Du Bois National Historic Site initiative, the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College, and Reclaiming Our Local Heritage.