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.
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.
Aloiz is a proud 5th generation resident of Erie County and current transportation planner at the Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development. She has a MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. Her work includes the conservation of finishes at Mesa Verde National Park, creation of a Building Preservation Guide for the Library of Congress and a condition survey of masonry columns from the U.S. Capitol. She has published research on a variety of projects such building stones of the National Mall and Achaemenid Persian glazed bricks.
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.
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.
Michael Fuhrman, M.S.A, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, the son of a U.S. Army Master Sergeant. He relocated to his family’s hometown of Erie at the age of seven, where he grew up in Marvintown at 27th and Parade streets, going on to graduate from St. John’s, Academy High School, and Mercyhurst University on Erie’s east side. A linebacker on Mercyhurst’s inaugural football team, Mr. Fuhrman graduated in 1985 with a B.A. in Dance. He spent more than two years touring Europe before returning home as Lake Erie Ballet’s first principal dancer. He earned a second degree in English from Mercyhurst and an M.S. in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Notre Dame. Previously, he has served as the Director of the 1995 Greater Erie Bicentennial, the Director of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, and Project Manager for Destination Erie. He was a founder of the Jefferson’s Civic Leadership Academy.
Guerrein and her husband Eric are the owners of Lakeshore Towing Services, Inc. They started the business together in 1988. Lakeshore Towing specializes in marine rescue, towing/salvage, diving, dredging and seawall construction. In addition to Lakeshore Towing, Guerrein and her husband have operated the Wolverine Park Marina since 2000 and McAllister Docks since 2018.
Guerrein lived in a cottage on the edge of Lake Erie for 15 years. After moving inland, she missed the water so much that in 2005 she and her husband purchased a houseboat on Horseshoe Pond, located on Presque Isle State Park. She is a passionate, beginner sailor and proud owner of a 22′ Gloucester sailboat.
Guerrein is the founder of Keep Our Bayfront Beautiful. She is on the board of Keep Erie County Beautiful. She is involved with the Pennsylvanian Lake Erie Watershed Association and is the secretary for the Horseshoe Pond Houseboat Owners Association. Guerrein became an outspoken advocate for the boating community when she learned a proposed road could wipe out the Wolverine Park and other marinas. She tries to keep up with anything concerning the Erie Bayfront and adjacent water. Guerrein has enjoyed restoring every house she has bought. In addition to restoring structures, the Guerreins have restored boats. She and her husband have four children and live on a small farm with about two dozen rescued animals. Guerrein loves to protect, preserve, restore and rejuvenate almost everything.
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 retired from 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.
Erin Nemenz Phillips
Erin Phillips is the creator of the Instagram account “Old Erie On Foot” (@olderieonfoot) which was born out of her daily routine of taking long walks in her West Bayfront neighborhood with her children. The account, which features photographs of local houses and buildings generally taken while “on foot,” has gained a generous following, uniting locals and non-locals in an appreciation for the old, distinctive architecture of our city.
Erin has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Art History from Penn State University, and after working in non-profit for a decade, she decided to stay at home to raise her two children. Erin is also a regular contributor at the Erie Reader, focusing her writing on old buildings: those being restored and reused in inspiring ways, or those simply existing unnoticed. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, cross stitching, baking, jogging, gardening and (of course) walking around her neighborhood.
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.
Jerry Skrypzak is a retired lieutenant from the City of Erie Bureau of Police. During his 32-year tenure he served most of his career in the department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit. He received training in forensic sciences at the FBI Academy and the Southern Police Institute, Sirchie Laboratories, Eastman Kodak Co., and Digital Biometrics, as well as through many other courses. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Police Science from Mercyhurst College. He was among the first active duty police officers to graduate from the college’s Law Enforcement Program.
He served as an instructor in photography, crime scene investigation and fingerprint science at many venues including the Pennsylvania State Police Northwest Regional Training Center and the PA Game Commission Training Center. He also acted as a guest instructor at Gannon University and Mercyhurst College. His skills as a photographer, which he acquired early in life, carried him into his career and onto his retirement.
He has been the president of the S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie Fishing Club since 1994. During this period he has acquired extensive knowledge of the history of Erie’s waterfront. He is a member of the Erie western Pennsylvania Port Authority Citizen’s Advisory Committee and the Bi-National Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group.
This love of history found him volunteering at the Erie History Center where he was appointed to serve on the board of directors. He has used his photography skills to help his friend, Dr. David Frew, with the graphics of several of his books. He and Dr. Frew co-authored the books “Fortune and Fury” about Erie’s commercial fishing industry and “Accidental Paradise: A Natural, Political, and Social History of Presque Isle.” Skrypzak often shares his knowledge of history as a guest speaker.
He is married to the former Alma Jean Nash Coman. He has 3 children, 13 step children and 35 grandchildren.