Beth Hessel, Ph. D.
Beth Hessel, Ph. D. (she/her) Beth joined the Athenaeum in July, 2019. Previously Executive Director of The Presbyterian Historical Society, a national archive located a few blocks south of the Athenaeum, Beth is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who has served congregations across the U.S. and is a popular speaker who has lectured and taught in corporate, nonprofit, and university settings. She holds a B.A. in history from UC Davis, an MA in U.S. Women’s History from Binghamton University, an M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in history from Texas Christian University. Beth loves the spirit-lifting magic of the Athenaeum’s Reading Room and the many opportunities to deepen partnerships with other Philadelphia organizations while creating lasting friendships with the Athenaeum’s many members and friends.
Administrative and Events Assistant
Tess Galen (she/her) Tess has been the Administrative Assistant since 2015 and the Events Assistant since 2019. She holds a BS in Arts Management and an MS in Museum Studies, both from Drexel University. Originally from West Windsor, New Jersey, she has lived in Philadelphia for over 10 years. Working at the Athenaeum allows her to combine her two favorite things; Philadelphia and books. Whether it’s picking up the latest release, or browsing through the Rare Book Vault, the Athenaeum collections always surprise her. Working at the Athenaeum, Tess has learned so much about Philadelphia history, making her proud to call it home. In her free time, she loves decorating, cooking, and exploring new neighborhoods. She lives in the Brewerytown neighborhood with her husband and two cats.
Membership & Marketing Associate
Natalie Gearin (she/her) As a recent addition to the staff, Natalie is excited to engage with the Athenaeum’s existing members and welcome prospective members into the fold. She has a BA in Art History and Global Studies from Temple University, and an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Tufts University, where she focused on contemporary art and pedagogical theory. Working at museums and galleries in Philadelphia and Boston, her hometown, has instilled in Natalie a love for fostering community through learning. When she’s not at work, Natalie likes to study herbalism and hunt for additions to her thrifted art collection.
Miranda Meketon (she/her) Miranda is new to the Athenaeum, joining the staff in 2022. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied psychology, anthropology, and education. During her undergraduate years, she fell in love with library work and decided to pursue it as a career. She holds an MSLIS from Drexel University. A lifelong lover of stories, she will read, watch, or listen to almost any form of media that promises to teach or entertain. Her favorite activity is breaking down the cultural significance and sociopolitical context of whatever she’s currently consuming.
Imaging Specialist – Regional Digital Imaging Center
Jim Carroll (he/him) Jim Carroll is a photographer, digital imaging specialist, and printer with over 20 years of experience. He has worked in the Regional Digital Imaging Center of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia for the past 16 years. Jim is also a theater director, producer, actor, and former President of The Players Club of Swarthmore community theater.
Gladys Brooks Curator of Architecture
Bruce Laverty (he/him) Bruce is the Founding Director of the Athenaeum’s two most important digital outreach sources: the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project and the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network and has stewarded the Atheaneum’s architectural collections since beginning here in 1983. In 2021, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia named him the winner of the James Biddle Award for Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation.
Resource Description and Access Librarian
Lois Reibach (she/her) Lois has been at the Athenaeum since late 2008. As the Resources Description and Access Librarian, she makes sure that the high-quality data in the library’s catalog is rich enough to help members and researchers find the resources they need. She also ensures that any of our members who wish, have access to our ebooks collection. She earned a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and her MLS from Kent State University. Her favorite thing to do is read crime fiction, and she has started a virtual mystery book group so our members and friends can share that interest.
Front Desk & Member Assistant
Valerie Roche (she/her) Valerie is an Administrative Assistant and is thrilled to be engaged with the Athenaeum community. She holds a BA from Barnard College, an MBA from Cornell University and an AS from Nassau Community College. After having retired from careers in the financial sector and the healthcare industry, she served as an arbitrator for FINRA and she authored a book on Surgical Technology. She has always had a love of libraries and was elected Chair of the Board of the Derry Public Library in Derry, NH. Since recently moving to Philly, she was elected to the Board of her building’s condominium association. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and playing the flute.
Jill LeMin Lee
Jill LeMin Lee (she/her) Jill has been at the Athenaeum since 1998, starting behind the scenes, where she oversaw the transition from the old card catalog to the online public access catalog. She moved up to take over the librarian’s desk in 2008. She received her undergraduate degree from American University and her MS in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. She enjoys the varied elements in the Athenaeum’s collection, such as vintage railroad excursion brochures from the Rupp Transportation Collection. Our designed bindings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries are also personal favorites. After an opportunity to study them in a session of Rare Book School she revamped the Athenaeum’s cataloging procedures to highlight these gems. Jill proudly holds the share held by her predecessor, Ellen Rose. Outside of work she enjoys genealogy, practicing circus aerials, photography, and classic cars.
Christina Doe (she/her) Christina joined the Athenaeum team in January 2022. She holds a BFA in Drawing and Printmaking from Moore College of Art and Design, and has more than 16 years experience in managing active public National Historic Landmark buildings housing collections containing art, manuscripts and rare books. Christina is excited to work in an institution where the celebration and preservation of architecture is a part of the mission! In her off hours, Christina is an avid gardener, focusing on native plants, sustainability, and permaculture. She designs, installs, and maintains small private and public gardens in Center City Philadelphia.
Front Desk & Member Assistant
Al Leszczynski (they/them) began working in museums while obtaining their BS in Environmental Science from Temple University. Al is new to the team, joining in November 2022 as a Front Desk and Member Assistant. Since 2013 they have worked as an educator at various museums and libraries throughout Philadelphia as well as aboard research vessels in the Pacific Ocean. Al is excited to dig into all that the Athenaeum has to offer. When they are not greeting members and visitors at the Athenaeum, they work as a scientific and technical writer across many topics. In their free time, Al can be found exploring parks and cemeteries, attending punk shows, and creating custom clothing and textile art.
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