Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum's new director, 23, ready for 'extraordinary opportunity'
ADAMS - At 23 years old, Cassandra Peltier graduated from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley in March with a Bachelor's Degree in history and a concentration in museum studies.
She was planning to embark on her graduate degree. But instead, on Sept. 1, she starts her new job as executive director of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum on East Road.
According to Carol Crossed, president of the board of directors of the museum, the rest of the board didn't need much convincing.
"She is extraordinarily poised, articulate and has a lot of self-confidence," Crossed said. "It takes vision and a person who can do it all. Her knowledge and respectful ways are easy to see."
Peltier, a native of Williamstown, had served as an intern at the museum during the summer of 2015 while a student at MCLA, where she spent the first two years of her college career. When the internship ended, she found herself helping out whenever they needed it.
"They kept calling me back for more," she recalled. "And I'd stop in now and then to say hello."
Crossed said that when the position came open in July, they advertised the opening, and evaluated the applicants. Then they called Peltier again, this time wondering if she'd like to serve as executive director.
"I talked to the board members, making sure they knew my age and my experience level," Peltier said. "They said that I will grow with the position and that they would mentor me. It's an extraordinary opportunity for someone my age, and I certainly do love a challenge. And it involves everything I love — history, museums, the arts, research, writing and interacting with people."
Peltier noted that even at an early age, she liked museums, especially house museums and living history museums, because of her interest in history and the desire to immerse herself in another time period, to see life as it was lived centuries ago.
Peltier will be supervising the operation of the Anthony Birthplace Museum, which opened to the public in 2010. It is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving the birthplace and raising public awareness of the wide-ranging legacy of the pioneering feminist and suffragist.
According to Crossed, she purchased the property at auction in August 2006, and after a lengthy public campaign and restoration project, the Anthony birthplace was ready to open.
Since then, the board and a cadre of volunteers have striven to improve the birthplace, its presentations and its relevancy.
Today the executive director is the only full-time paid position. Two part-time employees are running the gift shop and keeping the books. There are also about 20 active volunteers who play a big part in keeping the museum operating, Crossed said.
Collectively, they are all gearing up for the centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives women the right to vote. Coincidentally, Sunday was the 98th anniversary of the ratification.
The Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee has been laboring for months, with the help of the museum community, to organize the celebration, which will boast a wide variety of events leading up to the week of Aug. 26, 2020.
During the next two years, Crossed said, Peltier will have a "huge" role to play in organizing some of the logistics of the celebration.
"Cassie is just going to have to jump in and get to work," Crossed said. "I'm sure she'll do a great job."
If you go
Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum
67 East Road, Adams
Birthplace Museum hours
Fall/winter (Columbus Day to Memorial Day):
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Friday and Saturday
11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday
Spring/Summer (Memorial Day - Columbus Day):
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday to Monday.
Children 6 & under: free
Free admission for members of NARM, NEMA and ROAM
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