Board of Trustees

New Amsterdam History Center is honored to have a dedicated Board of Trustees that is comprised of experts, historians and curators who are focused on the history of early New Amsterdam and the people who laid the foundation of today’s New York City.
Esme E. Berg, Executive Director
Esme Emmanuel Berg has served as Vice-President and Executive Director of the New Amsterdam History Center since 2008. She joined NAHC as a Trustee and helped to develop its website and lecture series. She has a strong teaching and event planning background having taught ESL at the French-American School of NY, served as Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, and worked in public relations promoting French wine. She has been a volunteer at several non-profit organizations, and holds a B.A. in French from New York University and a Masters from Boston University.
Cynthia Bogart is a former editor for Better Homes & Gardens magazines and was a commercial artist, who transitioned into digital and website development, marketing, and social media management with a focus on historical and traditional businesses and organizations for the last 15 years. She has served as a digital content editor overseeing many online publications, including digital magazines, articles, manuals, and social media content. She has received several awards for Digital and Content development, and she was a MassChallenge Finalist. She is a direct descendant of Tunis Gysbert Bogaert who settled in New Amsterdam in 1652 and his wife, Sarah Rapelje Bogaert, the first white child born in New York State in 1625 to Walloon settlers at Fort Orange, New York.
Patricia U. Bonomi, Ph.D.
Patricia U. Bonomi, Professor Emerita of American history, New York University, specializes in the colonial and early national periods. She holds a Ph.D., Columbia University 1970. Fellowships: American Council of Learned Societies, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities. Publications include ” ‘Swarms of Negroes Comeing about My Door’: Black Christianity in Early Dutch and English North America,” Journal of American History, (June 2016); The Lord Cornbury Scandal: The Politics of Reputation in British America(1998); Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America (1986); A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (1971; 2014).
Michael Cavanaugh, President
A NAHC trustee since 2018, Michael E. Cavanaugh is a partner at the Manhattan law firm of Kranjac Tripodi & Partners LLP. Michael graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 with a BA in Psychology, and received his JD from Albany Law School of Union University in 1986. Albany sparked Michael’s passion for urban archaeology and, in particular, the study of the Dutch roots evident today in both New York and New Jersey.
Wijnie de Groot
Wijnie de Groot has taught the Dutch language at Columbia University in New York City since 2000 at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels. She also teaches a course on seventeenth-century Dutch and paleography. She developed and teaches a summer course for Ph.D. students entitled Modern Dutch for Reading Knowledge and Reading 17th Century Texts through the Shared Course Initiative in conjunction with Yale and Cornell universities. Her research interests include the history of the Dutch language and the history of the Low Countries. Wijnie holds an MA in Slavic Languages as well as an MA in General Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam
Toya Dubin
Toya Dubin helped to launch the NAHC’s Mapping Early New York, a detailed encyclopedia of Dutch Colonial History linked to maps of the Castello Plan, the earliest map of New Amsterdam: Ms. Dubin is President of Hudson Archival, responsible for the digitization of the Dutch Documents collection at the New York State Archives. She lives in the Hudson Valley surrounded by Dutch history.
Firth Haring Fabend, Ph.D.
Firth Fabend is the author of A Dutch Family in the Middle Colonies,1660-1800 (1991); Land So Fair (2008), a historical novel set in the Early New York period, treating in fiction this same family; and a historical poem in book form, A Catch of Grandmothers (2004), which portrays the women in this family over ten generations. Other books are Zion on the Hudson: Dutch New York and New Jersey in the Age of Revivals (2000) and New Netherland in a Nutshell: A Concise History of the Dutch Colony in North America (2012). She is also the author of several dozen shorter essays and chapters in books concerning New Netherland and its legacy. Her work has received many awards, the most recent being the New Netherland Institute’s Alice P. Kenney Memorial Award in 2017. She is past President of the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History.
Sandra Lazo
Sandra Lazo grew up in West Germany, Denver, Cincinnati, Houston and London. She received her S.B. degree in Economics from M.I.T. and her M.A. degree from N.Y.U., both in economics. She worked in economic consulting, with clients primarily in regulated industries such as electric utilities. While raising two sons in New York City, she volunteered as assistant treasurer of the Parents League of New York. An avid researcher into her family history, Sandy became fascinated by colonial Dutch New York after discovering that she is an eleventh-generation descendant of Cornelis Antonissen Van Slyck, who immigrated to Rensselaerswyck in 1634. She has funded NNI’s Van Slyke Article Prize almost since its inception, and supported NAHC’s presentation “The Prize Papers Collection – The Vrooman Letters” in the spring of 2023. Sandy and her husband continue to be based in New York City, and she plans to remain a “New Amsterdammer” for the foreseeable future.
Jan Seidler
Dr. Jan Seidler Ramirez is the founding Chief Curator and Executive Vice President of Collections at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Previously, she served as Vice President and Museum Director at the New-York Historical Society, where she played a major role in developing that institution’s real-time History Responds initiative. In her career Ramirez has held curatorial, collections development and senior administrative posts at museums in Boston and New York, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Hudson River Museum and the Museum of the City of New York. She received her doctorate in American Studies from Boston University.
Suzanne Roff, Ph.D
Suzanne Roff, PhD is a licensed psychologist and former Adjunct Assistant Professor at New York University (20 years). Her multi-disciplinary interests include history, heritage, and genealogy. She serves as Directress General of the Society of Daughters of Holland Dames. Currently, she is writing a debut historical fiction novel about the 18th century French West Indies. Her paintings are exhibited in juried art shows in Vero Beach, FL where she now resides.
Ina Lee Selden, Vice President
Ina Lee Selden is president of MANHATTAN PASSPORT, a specialized tour company that customizes visits to New York City and the Hudson Valley for corporate, cultural and student groups. She has written from Rome for the New York Times, and taught American English to civil servants and interpreters at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Languages and Linguistics from Georgetown University and done graduate work in linguistics at Stanford University. She has created New York and How It Got That Way, a tour of Manhattan that helps explain why Manhattan looks and thinks the way it does.
Vanessa Sellers
Vanessa Bezemer Sellers, Ph.D, is the Director of the Humanities Institute at the New York Botanical Garden. Previously she taught at the Bard Graduate Center and worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also served as a Summer Fellow in Gardens and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Her area of expertise is seventeenth-century Dutch gardens. Vanessa earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Art History from Leiden University, the Netherlands, and continued her studies in the United States, completing her Ph.D. in Art History and Archeology at Princeton University.
Andrew Terhune
Andrew Terhune received his BS from Trinity College, Hartford, and an MBA from Columbia University. He spent most of his career with Toll Brothers in Philadelphia. He was President of the Holland Society of New York from 2016 to 2020 and still serves on its Board of Trustees. His hobbies include family genealogy and golf. He and his wife, Janice, live with their three cats in Philadelphia and Naples, FL.
James Van Splinter
James Van Splinter is a litigation/intellectual property attorney at Kranjac Tripodi & Partners on Wall Street. A lifelong New Jersey resident of Dutch descent, he is a graduate of Boston College Law School and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. James has had an avid interest in history, particularly that of the Tri-State area. He assisted in the preservation of the John W. Rea House in Hawthorne, NJ. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. James currently resides in Morris County, with his wife and two children. James is learning Dutch in his spare time.
Tom Visée
Tom Visée is a past president of NAHC. He is Dutch and was raised valuing national history. Thanks to reading The Island at the Center of the World in 2014 he got a better understanding and appreciation of the 17th Century overseas part of history he wasn’t taught about in school. He wants to help New Yorkers appreciate their shared history too. In daily life he serves as a husband, father of two, and Senior Logistics Consultant at Arup.
Marc Yland
Marc J. Yland, MD, is an anesthesiologist in Stony Brook, NY, and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area. He has been in practice for more than twenty years. He attended Erasmus Medical School in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, began his training in surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and completed his residency in Anesthesiology at the University Medical Center at Stony Brook. He is the author of numerous articles on spinal cord stimulation, has received many awards, and was the first to introduce a number of advanced pain management techniques on Long Island beginning in 1996. Dr. Yland served as President of the Suffolk County Medical Society. In the past few years he has developed a growing interest in the history of New Amsterdam and in exploring his Dutch roots. He has been a loyal supporter and enthusiast of NAHC activities over the years.
NAHC Advisory Board
Robert W. Snyder
Robert W. Snyder is Manhattan Borough Historian and professor emeritus of journalism and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Among his many books, he is the author of Crossing Broadway: Washington Heights and the Promise of New York and the coauthor of All the Nations Under Heaven: Immigrants, Migrants and the Making of New York. He has written for scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines, and worked with museums and the media to share history with the public. He served as a senior research consultant for Ric Burns’ eight-episode award-winning series New York: A Documentary, which aired on PBS starting in 1999. He is a former Fulbright lecturer in American Studies in Korea and a member of the New York Academy of History. Rob received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from New York University.
Trustees Emeritus
  • Casey R. Kemper
  • Christopher Moore
  • Kenneth Chase
  • Rett Zabriskie