Our Annual Meeting on Friday was a fun and well-attended event with plenty of Flying Saucer pizza to go around! We'd like to thank our outgoing President Jennifer Firth for her hard work and dedication to the organization, and congratulate our new President, Tim Jenkins. We'd also like to extend a warm welcome to our seven new board members and introduce you all to this talented bunch:
Polly Wilbert has been actively involved in neighborhood and community issues since her 1981 move to South Salem. She is a long-time member of the South Salem Neighborhood Association and has been president since November 2016. She also serves on the Salem State University Neighborhood Advisory Committee and as a member of the City Council’s LORAX Task Force, which has drafted a municipal ordinance in support of Salem’s urban forest.
She helped found the Alliance of Salem Neighborhood Associations to foster communication on city issues among Salem’s neighborhoods. She is a member of the Friends of Greenlawn, assisting with historical research on and tours of Salem’s 1807 cemetery and participating in preservation advocacy and fundraising for the Dickson Memorial Chapel at Greenlawn.
During her business career, Polly was on the administrative staffs of several Boston investment firms. She is a gardener and a long-time collector of art and antiques. As a great-granddaughter of a founder of America’s leading 19th-century manufacturer of majolica -- Griffen, Smith & Hill -- she is a collector of that and other historic ceramics.
Gary R. Leach recently retired as the senior vice president and group head of the Community Development Lending business line for Eastern Bank. In that capacity he oversaw Eastern’s tax credit investment business ( for historic, LIHTC and New Market tax credits) as well as the financing of non-profit business enterprises and affordable housing, including tax exempt bond financing. He served Eastern Bank as a manager in the commercial banking business from 1997 to 2018.
Prior to joining Eastern Bank, Gary’s forty-plus year real estate finance career included assignments at Fleet Bank, Bank of New England and the First National Bank of Chicago.
Gary earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Suffolk University and a Master of Arts degree in Urban Studies from Loyola University, Chicago.
Gary is a board member and past President of the North Shore Community Development Coalition and a member and past President of the Real Estate Finance Association of the Greater Boston Board of Realtors. He is also a member of the Urban Land Institute. Gary is a founding member of the Boston Chapter of the Lambda Alpha International Land Economics Society and its Regional Vice President for the Eastern US.
Barbara Cleary is the Principal of Cleary Advisors, which provides consulting services regarding real estate financing to non-profit organizations. The firm’s clients include health care organizations, educational instititutions, YMCAs, child care providers, and developers of commercial real estate, among others.
She is responsible for arranging and negotiating the terms debt, equity, public and quasi-public funds, and especially New Markets and Historic Tax Credits. She was previously President of Affirmative Investments, a social investing firm based in Boston.
Barbara has a Masters of Art History and Museum Practice and her interest in historic architecture and decorative arts dates from her previous work at Historic Deerfield and Historic New England. She is a past President of Historic Salem and was recipient of Historic Salem’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gavin Gardner is the Chief of Resources for Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites. He was born in Maryland, moved out west for college, then began a career as an archeologist for the National Park Service, working at parks in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, and Washington. His adventures have included finding prehistoric pueblos at the Grand Canyon, protecting historic Spanish missions and the pueblos they exploited in New Mexico, recording gold rush sites in Alaska, repairing cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, and possibly locating the cremated remains of Marlon Brando in Death Valley. He met his wife in Death Valley, they added two children in New Mexico, then moved to Massachusetts, even though he strongly dislikes winter.
Gavin worked at the Springfield Armory, home to the second largest collection of firearms in the world, then moved to Salem national park, where he is Chief of Resources for Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites. He has worked to build a resource management division tasked with preserving and protecting the park's amazing history, museum collection, and natural resources. He has no idea when the Friendship will return.
David Henry is an investment professional with over 35 years of experience. David has an MBA from the University of Houston and a BBA from University of Cincinnati. He is a member of Certified Financial Advisor and has held numerous roles within the CFA Society of Boston.
He has served in a client relationship / business development role for P/E Investments. He was Chief Investment Officer for the Family Office of the late Richard Egan, founder of EMC. He has been an investment consultant with the Wellesley Group, and advisor for the CCC Alliance, a Family Office collaborative. He has also worked for John Hancock, The Boston Company & Interactive Data.
Mr. Henry is active in his community. David recently joined Essex County Community Foundation Investment Committee. He volunteers with the Career Collaborative, a non profit that assists unemployed and under-employed individuals develop career skills. He is a board member of Northeast ARC. In the past, Mr. Henry served on Immaculate Conception Finance Committee and Parish Council. He was also an Assistant Scout Master for Troop 24. Mr. Henry is a previous board member, Treasurer, and President of HSI and facilitated the grant for the original renovation of the Bowditch House. He considers his greatest accomplishment to be when he and his wife won for costume at the HSI Black and White ball.
Walter Herbert has been a career banker in both the Corporate and Investment areas for 35+ years and has developed networks with corporations, developers and investors on both a business and social level. In working with Swampscott Historical Society and as a Swampscott Town Meeting member he contributed to solving real estate development and funding issues in a collaborative environment. Since moving to Salem, he has joined Historic Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Athenaeum, the Pickering House Trust, and the House of Seven Gables. Learning about their missions has made him want to become more actively involved in Salem. He has restored historic buildings that include and Edwardian building at 110 Burrill Street in Swampscott and a Second Period building at 105R North Street in Salem. He is also active in the Harvard Club of Boston, the Harvard Varsity Club and St. John’s Prep Alumni Association.
Michael Selbst has been living-in and restoring old houses his entire adult life. He started restoring his first antique house when he was 24, and hasn’t stopped since. He was on a number of local boards in Boston and now is on the board of Hamilton Hall, chairing the building committee. He has been a resident of Salem since 2014. Michael received a Bachelors degree in Economics as well as a Masters of Business Administration, both from Cornell University. He lives in Salem with his partner Brad on Chestnut Street in their most recent old house. He is a realtor with Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, specializing in Boston and the North Shore. Michael is also known for his enthusiasm and welcoming nature, which will be an asset to any project in which he is involved.