Nashoba Neighbors Board of Directors
Meet Our Board of Directors, 2023
Mary Anne Cleary, Board Treasurer, Lancaster
Al Ferry, Director, Bolton
Joan Finger, Director, Bolton
Susan Henry, Board President, Berlin
John Petrin, Director, Bolton
Catherine Pfau, Board Clerk, Bolton
Alexandra Turner, Director, Lancaster
Mary Anne Cleary, Board Treasurer, has lived in the central Massachusetts area for over 25 years, in Sterling, Clinton, and now Lancaster. She helped care for her parents as they aged, especially once they moved back to Massachusetts to live with her. While her working experience is with technology and finance companies in marketing and publication editing, she devotes most of her time toward the vision of a sustainable future. Through her work as a facilitator for programs by the Pachamama Alliance, she helps groups envision a just, sustainable, and fulfilling world. She expects to bring these sensibilities to her contributions to Nashoba Neighbors.
Al Ferry has been active in community organizations since shortly after he and Joan Finger moved to Bolton in the late eighties. As a director and past president of the Bolton Conservation Trust (BCT), he was active in the effort to save the Nashoba Valley Winery from development and other efforts to preserve farmland and open space using agricultural and conservation restrictions. Al was part of the committee that envisioned purchasing the Smith gas station in Bolton that now has become the Bolton Common.
Joan Finger moved to Bolton with Al Ferry in 1986. Joan's background is in education with a master’s degree in special education from Lesley College, having worked there on the early Mass Teachers Association guide to Chapter 766 as the new law was coming into effect. Joan taught at Lesley College and has worked as an administrator and teacher in several public school districts in the Boston area.
When she left public education and started her tutoring practice she also joined the Women's Business Network in Harvard, where she has become an active member, serving as chairperson and president of the Board for many of the past 25 years, growing the membership from 20 women to over 65 members from 25 towns. Over the past 40 years she has also been involved in the Boston Mycological Club where as vice president she increased the membership by 25% and, with Al, scheduled weekly forays into the woods and organized the regional NorthEast Mycological Foray (NEMF) in 1993, a 4-day conference including 250 amateur and professional mycologists from the US and abroad.
In 2004, Joan was asked by the Chairperson of the Nashoba School Committee to serve as Chair of the Nashoba School District Special Education Parent Advisory Council. From 2009-2016, Joan was one of the coordinators of Nashoba Unified Sports, an organization pairing children with special needs with typical volunteers for basketball and soccer. Joan grew that group from 20 participants to over 100.
Joan’s interest in Nashoba Neighbors ties in with her ongoing efforts to help those who have felt “left out” -- whether special needs students, or folks in a new situation, or those over 65 who no longer have the community connections they enjoyed in the past. She has learned about the importance of older members of the family living successfully at home, as evidenced by her 103 year old mother who lives with Joan’s sister, and Al’s parents who lived in the home where Al was raised until their deaths.
Susan Henry, Board President, has lived in Berlin for 37 years with her husband Robert Blair. Susan is a life-long educator. She taught elementary and graduate students for many years, led quality reviews of schools and districts in a number of states, provided professional development for school and district leaders, and provided technical assistance for state education departments. She also helped to design and launch two new innovative public schools, as well as an online teacher leadership program. More recently, Susan served on the Berlin-Boylston Regional School Committee. Susan earned her Ed.M. and Ed.D. degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Susan's commitment to Nashoba Neighbors grew out of her efforts to support her own parents, who wished to remain in the comfort of their home as they aged. Susan saw the various challenges and rewards of this choice and her observations and learning now inform her work with Nashoba Neighbors. Susan has a deep New England heritage, placing value on personal independence alongside a commitment to helping others.
For a number of years, Susan was a founder and producer of the Three Apples Storytelling Festival in Harvard, MA, where she was raised. Susan loves stories and books, the fiber arts, and taking walks in the woods. She is often found weaving at the 48" floor loom her mother passed on to her.
John Petrin has lived in Bolton for the past eleven years with his wife, Kim. In retirement he is a consultant in municipal management and serves as a Senior Fellow, Instructor, and Certificate Liaison for Suffolk University. He retired from Massachusetts municipal government after forty years of service. He served as the very first Town Administrator in the town of Harvard many years ago and most recently served as the Burlington Town Administrator for seven years prior to retirement.
John has served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metrowest serving Hudson, Marlborough, and Framingham for over 25 years. One of the largest Boys & Girls Clubs in Massachusetts, John's work is dedicated to the organization's mission to "inspire all youth, especially those who need us the most, to become productive caring and responsible citizens."
John recognized an opportunity to integrate his deep experience working with the elder population as a town administrator with the knowledge he has gained from serving as a board member for a large non-profit to address the growing needs of seniors in our area through Nashoba Neighbors.
Catherine Pfau, Board Clerk, lives in Bolton with her husband Ray Pfau. Her interest in working in the field of aging came while working on her master’s degree at the Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management where she did an internship at an elderly housing facility. She began to wonder why there weren’t more options for older adults to age successfully in a place where they were comfortable and wanted to be. She stayed in the aging field and worked for many years at the Boston University Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center where she continued to learn about the concerns facing older adults. After retiring, she started her own photography business where she specialized in portraits of newborns and families. She especially enjoyed photographing older adults and intergenerational families.
After reading an article in the Boston Globe in 2018 about Villages, she was inspired to start one in Bolton. The idea of neighbors helping neighbors seemed like the perfect solution to aging in one's own home. She sees a Village as providing two important things: a safety net and a place to call when you need a helping hand or friend. She wishes that her parents had a Village to help them out as they aged in their home.
Catherine’s current interests are hiking, kayaking, photography, genealogy, traveling, and hanging out with her grandchildren.
Alexandra Turner, or 'Alix' is a longtime resident of Lancaser, where she has dedicated her life to community activism and public service. She and her husband, John, moved to Lancaster after falling in love with the area's history, natural environment and the people. She has served as a Conservation Commissioner, Land Trust Founder, and continues to marvel at the natural world of the Nashua Valley and the rich history of our region.
Alexandra became a Lancaster Selectman, serving for nine years, during which time she advanced policies to help seniors age in place, including developing what is now known as the Senior Tax Abatement. Now she again serves as a Lancaster Selectman, and recently finished after 10 years as Director of the Community Center and the Council on Aging in Lancaster where she built a vibrant support Center for older residents.
Alexandra first returned to the area, after growing up in Bolton, to help her parents age in place. Realizing there were very few options for elders to stay in our community, she focused her polictical career on care for elders and her other passion, the environment. Now, she is focusing her attention on Nashoba Neighbors, as well as other civic organizations, including the Montachusett Area Regional Transportation Authority, in hopes that older residents will remain in our community. Alix hopes to build a network of supports to best serve elders everywhere that would make it possible for those that wish to age in place to do so.
Mary Anne Cleary
Photo Credit: Ann DeCristofaro, Stow
Photo Credit: Ann DeCristofaro, Stow
Photo Credit: Ann DeCristofaro, Stow