Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team (PaCRT) Members are dedicated to helping cultural institutions across the Commonwealth be prepared for and recover from disasters and emergencies. Each team member joins the team through completing a set of homework assignments that will help them better understand emergency management and be better prepared themselves. They complete FEMA’s Incident Command System training, create at home disaster supply caches, and review health and safety procedures. Team members make a commitment to the team by completing annual training that will help them to better assist cultural heritage organizations before, during, and after disasters.
Samantha Forsko: PaCRN Project Lead
Samantha is the Preservation Specialist at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). She conducts on-site preservation needs and risk assessments and assists with preservation and emergency planning. Since starting at the Center in 2015, Samantha has also been the project manager of the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network (PaCRN), aiming to improve emergency response and preparedness for cultural institutions across the state. Before joining CCAHA, Samantha worked at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as a collections manager. In addition to providing long-term care for permanent collection, she also served on the Emergency Preparedness Committee, responsible for writing, updating, and training the 300 member staff on the implementation of the institution’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.
Miranda Nixon: PaCRN West Lead
Miranda Nixon works with cultural organizations as a Preservation Consultant to help them better care for their collections long-term. She previously worked at the University of Pittsburgh as Preservation Coordinator where she also received her MLIS in Archives and Preservation Management. Miranda is active in teaching local preservation workshops and in disaster response efforts, particularly in the AFR Pittsburgh chapter since its 2008 inception. She currently serves as the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network (PaCRN) West Coordinator. In addition to her active committee involvement in the American Library Association, she has published and presented on her experiences at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, the PA Museums Conference, and IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress. A lover of languages, she hopes to combine her preservation experience with teaching opportunities internationally in the future.
Joshua K. Blay
Joshua is the Registrar and Collections Manager of the City Archives unit of the City of Philadelphia Records Department. He started volunteering with a county historical society in Upstate New York at the age of thirteen which led to an interest in collections management. Joshua received a B.S. in History from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. He has worked as a collections manager for a transportation company and a museum curator/associate director for a county historical society in Pennsylvania where he helped to revise emergency preparedness plans. Before coming to Philadelphia, Joshua worked for the University of Montana in Richmond, VA on a cultural resource project for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Laura is an archivist & curator who’s been an active member of Northwest Pennsylvania Alliance for Response since 2015. She was Vice Chair in 2017 and has been Chair of the group since 2018. She has experience in disaster planning, recovery triage, water-based damage, and box making techniques that help store damaged and recovered works. One day, Laura wishes to use her scuba diver’s license to help salvage wrecks off Lake Erie, and has a keen interest in object conservation.
Erin Byrne, Archivist at The Andy Warhol Museum, is an authority on Warhol’s Time Capsules and has tackled the challenge of cataloging and preserving Warhol largest serial artwork for the last nine years. She manages a diverse collection of over half a million objects of every imaginable medium. Byrne is passionate about connecting the collection to the public, scholars, and curators from all over the world. These interactions inform the way she catalogues and manages the various collections; allowing for improved access from thorough and accurate records, more innovative research, and visually engaging exhibitions. As an active member in both her local chapter of Alliance for Response and the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team, Byrne is well versed in disaster preparedness related to art and archival collections. In addition to her work at the Warhol, Byrne volunteers with Animal Friends animal shelter as part of their Development Committee.
Kirsten has served as the Commonwealth’s NIMS Coordinator for the last five years at PEMA, and was recently promoted to an acting Emergency Management Supervisor position for the Planning Division at PEMA. She also oversees the annual THIRA/SPR submission for the Commonwealth, as well as serves as Situational Awareness Section Chief in the Commonwealth Response and Coordination Center (CRCC). Prior to PEMA, Kirsten worked for five and a half years as a planning specialist at Dauphin County Department of Public Safety. Kirsten holds a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security from the Pennsylvania State University, as well as a dual-major Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Hood College, and is currently pursuing an additional Master’s Degree in Classical Mediterranean History with a focus on Ancient Rome. Kirsten also is an adjunct professor for Rivier University in New Hampshire, teaching an online Emergency Public Health Preparedness course, which explores the relationship between emergency management doctrine and public health preparedness.
Bill is the curator of the Curtis Theatre Collection, which is part of the Archives & Special Collections in the University of Pittsburgh Library System. The Curtis Collection documents the history of the performing arts in Pittsburgh and he has worked with the collection for over 15 years. Bill has worked with the Pittsburgh chapter of Alliance for Response since its inception in 2008 and served on its steering committee on several occasions.
Kara is currently the Associate Registrar for Exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her primary responsibility is to organize and oversee in-house and traveling exhibitions, but she is also a member of the Museum’s Safety Committee and the interdepartmental Contemporary Conservation Working Group. Before moving to exhibitions, Kara worked with the Museum’s permanent collection. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Lebanon Valley College, a Master’s Degree in History/Public History from Northeastern University, and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care from George Washington University. She was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Emerging Museum Professionals group, and previously served as a Board Member of the Young Friends of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Kara has been a member of the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team since 2016.
Amoi grew up in Northeast Florida, where she had first hand experience working in emergency response as a Beach Lifeguard, receiving specialized training in water and land-based emergency response, and with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department as a Beach Ranger. She then became a Park Ranger for the Florida Park Service at Washington Oaks State Gardens, where she participated in Prescribed Fire and Wild Fire Suppression training. Having recently relocated to Ambler, Pennsylvania, Amoi is excited to bring her emergency response and Historic Preservation experiences together to benefit the state.
Rebecca is the Registrar at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater where she manages the care, conservation, and documentation of the objects and where she is part of the team that oversees the safety and security of the collection. Prior to this position, Rebecca served as Director of Collections at James Madison’s Montpelier near Charlottesville, Virginia. Rebecca has earned a M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Art History from Christopher Newport University. She joined PaCRT and AFR Pittsburgh in 2018 and enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with and support other Pennsylvania cultural institutions.
Laura Heemer is the Curator and Program Director at the Wharton Esherick Museum where she oversees a collection of art and furniture made almost entirely of wood. She holds a BA in Historic Preservation with a focus on Museum Studies, from the University of Mary Washington. Before joining the staff at WEM, she interned at the James Monroe Museum, the Chester County Historical Society and the Mill at Anselma. Laura serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Historic Sugartown, has been a member of the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team since 2016, and is the Vice-Chair of the Suburban Philadelphia Alliance for Response.
Cassie’s education and training as a librarian and archivist concentrated on special collections, including an internship at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT. Both preservation and disaster recovery are central to the care and maintenance of such collections. To keep current, she has attended several workshops as well as participating in online courses on disaster planning and salvage sponsored by New England Archivists, MARAC, and most recently, CCAHA. In most of these sessions, the emphasis has been on responding to water-related recovery.
Carolyn is currently Operations Manager for the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) and a consultant for arts and culture organizations. As a founding member of the McCandless Northern Allegheny Heritage Center, she works with emergency management officials to provide preparedness training for local museums. Additionally, she serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Philharmonic is a Peer Reviewer for the IMLS. She is passionate about demonstrating the impact of local organizations and fostering community. She has previously worked in education at Phipps Conservatory and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Visitor Services at the Imperial War Museum’s Churchill War Rooms and as a Photography and Documentation Assistant at the Study Collections Centre of the Horniman Museum and Gardens and as an Exhibition Assistant the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Anita currently works in the Population Studies Center’s Demography Library at the University of Pennsylvania as the Information Coordinator. Previously, she was at the Drexel University Archives. Anita joined the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team (PaCRT) in 2016. As part of her own continued growth, she actively pursues professional development opportunities to stay abreast of best practices for collections care by attending training and workshops offered by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) and other local partners on topics related to disaster planning, preservation, exhibit design, storage, and artifact packing and transport.
Alisa is a conservation technician working in private practice with local museums, private clients, historical societies, and historic landmarks to protect their collections and archives. Trained in both restorative and preventive care, she works examining, documenting, and treating both 3D and 2D objects and artifacts to preserve them for the future. Alisa holds a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois Chicago and a Certificate in Artifact Collection Care from the University of Chicago.
William “Bill” Minter started his book conservation career in Chicago where he was involved in a number of library and archive disasters. Upon moving to Pennsylvania in 1994, his involvement in disaster recovery has continued. He is currently the Senior Book Conservator for The Pennsylvania State Libraries.
Aurielle is the Assistant Registrar at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she works on shipments of artwork, long term loan arrangements, and other collections management functions. She holds and M.A in Fine Arts Administration from Temple University and a Bachelor’s in Art History from the Pennsylvania State University. Before working at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Aurielle worked at the Museum of the American Revolution, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and Freeman’s Auctioneers and Appraisers.
Emma Pyle is a trained book artist from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Currently she lives and works in Pittsburgh as a Conservation Technician at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Her strengths include dry cleaning, creating custom enclosures, and simple book repairs and structures. Emma is also a member of the Guild of Book Workers.
As the Associate Registrar at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, she oversees gallery changes, extended loans, collections database management, object photography, and collection inventories. As part of CCAHA’s preservation needs assessment, she prepared an emergency supply cart and bins for the museum and historic properties at the BRMA. She has participated in various collections training workshops including CCAHA’s workshop on disaster response and recovery. Prior to this position, she worked at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia as image archivist, project archivist, and curator of fine art and registrar. Amanda earned a M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and B.A. in Art History and Art Conservation from the University of Delaware.
Josh began his archival career in 2005 at the York County Heritage Trust (now York County History Center) where he worked closely with collections and patrons. Since 2008 he has been an archivist at the Pennsylvania State Archives, achieving a wide breadth of experience ranging from preservation to outreach. He has been a PaCRT team member since 2016 and serves the PaCRN steering committee; works closely with local governments, historical records repositories, and the State Historical Records Advisory Board; and serves as the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Historical and Archival Records Care grant manager. He is well versed in, and frequently conducts training on, disaster planning and response; essential records; records management; and archival best practices.
Jennifer is the Brooke Dolan Archivist at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. She has degrees in history, writing and museum studies, and has spent the last ten years in the world of museums, moving from museum education to collections care and exhibition development, before becoming the Academy’s Archivist. There, she manages the collection of age-old clothing, instruments, illustrations, letters, specimens, and other artifacts, as well as providing support for researchers and preparing exhibitions. Jennifer has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team (PaCRT) since 2016 and is also on the AFR Philly Steering Committee.
Lynne is an art educator and has taught for over twenty-five years in Lancaster County, where she resides. Her interest in emergency response began in 1977 when her hometown, Johnstown, PA, experienced the devastation of a nationally known flood. At the then age of thirteen, Lynne became an active volunteer in the effort to preserve and restore her culturally and historically rich neighborhood. Through this experience, she developed a special interest in the preservation of structures, art, photography, architecture and historical artifacts. This has played a large role in her career as an educator. During her two decades in education she was responsible and trained for student safety and emergencies. Lynne also is employed as a manager in a public retail setting where she has been instructed on and trains her employees in emergency response to civilian customer emergencies and safety practices. Lynne has served on the PA Cultural Response Team since 2016 and is working to revitalize her local Alliance for Response chapter in the South Central area of PA. She has completed several emergency management courses and exercises in response recovery and cataloging.
Morgan is the Registrar for Collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she manages acquisitions for the actively growing permanent collection. She also manages deaccessioning, incoming loans, coordinates the movement of works of art into, out of, and within the Museum, oversees installations at sites administered by the PMA including the Rodin Museum and Cedar Grove, and conducts collections inventories and storage moves. Prior to moving to Philadelphia, Morgan worked in collections management at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, National Postal Museum, Anacostia Community Museum and The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s President Lincoln’s Cottage. She holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from The George Washington University and a B.A. in Ancient Studies from The University of Maryland Baltimore County. Morgan has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Cultural Response Team (PaCRT) since 2016 and is on the AFR Philly Steering Committee.