The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) will be losing its executive director. The Reverend Dr. Beth Hessel, who has served in the leadership capacity for four years, has resigned to take a similar position with the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, a historic member library and architectural archives.

“It has been an honor to serve God’s people, the PC(USA), and the larger research community,” said Hessel. “We have made great strides toward achieving our vision of being an inclusive, relevant, and responsive archives that collects, preserves, and shares the fullness of American Presbyterian History.”

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), credits Hessel with generating new sources of revenue and expanding historical collections for PHS.

“During her four years with us, PHS have seen increased funds development, acquisition of several prestigious grants, the development of strategies for expanding critical additions to the collection, and the expansion of the digital collection,” said Nelson. “Beth’s commitment to collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of the PC(USA) has never wavered and we want to thank her for her leadership and vision and wish her Godspeed in her new endeavors.”

Collections generated during her time with the society include papers from African American leaders and LGBTQIA+ history records.

“On behalf of the entire PHS Board, we commend Beth for everything PHS has achieved under her leadership and thank her for the many opportunities we now have to build on her legacy,” wrote the Reverend George Abdo, PHS board chair, and Ernie Higginbotham, incoming board chair. “We wish her the very best in her new role at the Athenaeum.”

The Stated Clerk will be consulting with the PHS Board soon to identify an acting executive director. Hessel’s last day with PHS is tentatively set for June 17.

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