Melinda Meyer, President
Meyer has worked with and served the heritage and arts communities of Northwestern Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years. She is experienced as an historian, educator, project consultant, grant writer and nonprofit administrator.
As a public historian, Ms. Meyer speaks frequently on the history of Erie County and consistently pursues avenues to share local history with all audiences. She has experience developing public programming and walking and driving tours, collecting oral histories, designing and installing exhibitions and wayside interpretive signage, publishing, and coordinating special events like festivals and symposiums. Ms. Meyer has also taught museum studies and historic preservation undergraduate courses.
Eric Dahlstrand, Vice President
Dahlstrand works for Erie Insurance. Born and raised in Erie, he has always had an interest in history and architecture. His travel experiences, especially those throughout Europe, have served to increase his awareness of the value of preserving our historic structures.
John Vanco, Treasurer
Vanco is the past executive director and curator of the Erie Art Museum. He supervised the museum’s LEED-certified building connecting five historic buildings into one complex that opened in 2010.
Vanco has also curated the Museum’s Contemporary Music Series for over 30 years, and the annual Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival for 21 years. He is a frequent lecturer, essayist and exhibition juror and has served on advisory panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the state arts agencies in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Montana. He has served on the Boards of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, Pennsylvania Presenters, and Pennsylvania Federation of Museums. He holds a bachelor’s in art history and history from Allegheny College.
In 2010, Vanco was honored with the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Pennsylvania. In 2011, the Erie Art Museum was awarded the nation’s highest honor for museums: The National Medal for Museum Service.
Erin Wincek, Secretary
Wincek held a 15 year career in public libraries before recently transitioning to Erie’s Whole Foods Co-op where she serves as Human Resources Manager. She is interested in community, sustainability, ceramics, farming, and preservation. In the past, Erin served on an Historic Architecture Review Board in Saxonburg, PA where she opened a coffee shop in a restored summer kitchen circa 1877. She currently co-chairs the Boulevard Park Association of Erie where she and her family live in an historic American Foursquare home. Erin holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from Clarion University of PA.
Allen is an Erie City Councilwoman and was the public editor at the Erie Times-News and wrote a Sunday column for the City & Region page, oversaw the newspaper’s Editorial Board, wrote daily editorials and edited contributed columns for the Op-Ed page. Many of her topics involved the current state and future of Erie neighborhoods.
The newspaper’s editorial/op-ed pages won first-place for Division II in the 2013 Pennsylvania Newspaper of the Year contest. Allen is a board member of the Pennsylvania Society of News Editors, where she served as president, and the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association. She received a Spirit of Courage Award from the Sisters of St. Joseph and was named one of the Dynamic Dozen by the Sisters of Mercy.
Allen has researched the history, architecture and people of Lincoln Avenue – the area in which she grew up – from Presque Isle Bay to the rowhouses at West 15 and Lincoln and leads a walking tour of the street.
Austin, an art professor Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, founded CivitasErie in 2004 with self-taught urban critic Stephen Sonnenberg and organizer Laurel Swartz. After establishing the SAM & ED “think tank” in 2006, Austin and CivitasErie subsequently co-founded three community groups: All Aboard Erie, founded in 2008, that promotes bus and rail transit; Innovation Erie, founded in 2007, that hosts an annual product-design competition resulting in the establishment of several vital new businesses; and Preservation Erie, formerly the Eric Center for Design and Preservation, was founded in 2007.
Austin has worked extensively to repurpose the Villa Chapel, Roosevelt Middle School, the EUP Boiler House and the McBride Viaduct. She has worked with PE, IE and AAE members to organize dozens of speakers and events in Greater Erie. She served for eight years on the Zoning Hearing Board and co-authors a monthly column for the Erie Reader called “Considering the City.”
Brennan is a professional architect, planner, President of Erie City Council, and the Erie office director at Bostwick Design Partnership . He is committed to the promotion of distinctive character of Greater Erie through community-based planning, urban design and historic preservation. At Bostwick Design Partnership, he is responsible for office management, project management, and marketing.
Brennan is a registered architect in Pennsylvania, past chairman of the City of Erie Planning Commission, past president of the Northwest Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and is certified with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He holds a bachelor of architecture and a bachelor of science from Kent State University.
Cavanaugh is an attorney at a private practice. He has been involved in historic preservation in Erie since 1976 and was one of the founding members of The Preservation Project in 1979. He also served on the Historic Preservation Committee of the Erie County Historical Society in the 1990s. Cavanaugh has been a Preservation Erie board member since 2007. He has also served on the boards of the Erie County Historical Society, Erie Yesterday, and the Wesleyville Rotary Club.
Cavanaugh is a life-long resident of the Erie area, having grown up in Wesleyville. He graduated from Cathedral Prep in 1972, Gannon University in 1975, and The University of Pittsburgh Law School in 1978.
Cavanaugh and his wife live in Erie in a 1920 Craftsman Bungalow and also own a 1901 Edwardian style rental property in the center city.
Franz is the Executive Director of Our West Bayfront, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in Erie’s West Bayfront neighborhoods by promoting civic involvement, thoughtful development, historical preservation and neighborhood pride. She holds a masters degree in city planning, and is the past director of Emerge 2040, which is a public/private partnership that coordinates the implementation of the Erie County region’s 25-year plan for sustainable development.
Shirley Ruth French
French held a 20-year career in the mental health system in Erie County, serving at the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Stairways Behavioral Health. She also spent time with Preservation Project of Erie, Inc., and the Erie County Historical Society. During her tenure in these two organizations,French completed the National Register Nomination of West Sixth Street as part of a team and completed two years of a three-year historic resource survey of Erie County. More recently, she assisted the Weiss Preservation firm in delineating the boundaries of historic districts in the City of Erie. She has also been an intermittent member of the Organ Historical Society and currently serves as organist/pianist at Asbury United Methodist Church in Waterford, PA.
French attended Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio because the campus had an Ohio State Historic Preservation Office.She interned in the office and during her senior year completed a historic resource survey of Bloomville, OH.
Hennessy is an Associate at MacDonald Illig. He is a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group and the Business Transactions Practice Group. A proud native of Erie, Hennessy received his Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies from Gannon University and attended the University of Akron School of Law. While attending law school, he served as senior law clerk for Attorneys Schrader, Romanoski and Stevenson and held a clerkship with the Honorable Beth Whitmore, Ninth District Ohio Court of Appeals. Since returning to Erie in 2015, Hennessy has been practicing law primarily in the areas of real estate transactions and litigation.
LoSapio, a life-long resident of Erie, is employed in the Accounting Department of Erie County. She is a member of the planning committee for the annual Preservation Erie Greater Erie Awards Event. She also serves as the Treasurer for All Aboard Erie, a group advocating for mass transit especially Hi-Speed Rail.
In addition, she is a member of The Erie County Historical Society, The Presque Isle Lighthouse and The Presque Isle Partnership.
Lorei is a realtor with Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services. She has more than 37 years of experience listing and selling Erie County real estate, focusing on residential and investment properties. In addition to Preservation Erie, she serves on the board of the Millcreek Township Sewer Authority and is active with Erie Together. She is an amateur photographer and landscape painter and is a life-long resident of Erie.
Skellie has had a 40-year career in urban planning and sustainable land use development. He worked as a planner for the County of Erie for 29 years, serving as director of the Department of Planning for 23 of those years. He administered the completion of comprehensive plans and land use regulations for the County of Erie and its 38 local municipalities, infrastructure, recreation, farm/open space preservation, transportation and housing rehabilitation projects, cumulatively bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to the county.
In addition, Skellie was instrumental in implementing the county’s GIS mapping program and recycling program, as well as the development of Erie County’s solid waste, storm-water and and natural heritage plans. He has since served as a Coastal Land Use and Economic Specialist with PA Sea Grant for 11 years, focusing on outreach projects that benefit residents and visitors, conserve and improve habitat and demonstrate sustainable land use development. Skellie’s leadership experience in grants writing and collaboration with federal, state and local officials has contributed to substantial achievements in the areas of sustainable land use projects.