Brian Boyles to replace longtime Mass Humanities Executive Director David Tebaldi in October


For the Gazette
Published: 8/2/2018 4:49:04 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Mass Humanities, the state’s humanities council, will welcome a new executive director on Oct. 15.

Brian Boyles, originally from Pittsburgh and a Louisiana resident for the past 12 years, will take over the reins from longtime executive director David Tebaldi, who is retiring.

“My wife is eager for me to retire,” said Tebaldi. “It just seemed like the right time.”

Hilda Ramirez, a member of the search committee, said Boyles’ history and experience in the South helped his candidacy.

“Brian impressed us with his energy, enthusiasm, and practical grasp of the humanities,” she said. “His record of accomplishment in engaging diverse groups in Louisiana was most impressive.”

Boyles, who majored in Western history at Tulane University and studied abroad in Germany, began his career in publishing at Simon & Schuster.

He acknowledges that his acceptance of the executive director role comes at a difficult time, with politicians openly questioning the value of the humanities.

“The challenges we face demand bold approaches to the humanities,” he said. “I look forward to working with communities, scholars and our supporters to advance the council’s mission.”

Boyles said he was “really honored” to receive the job and he plans on moving his family to Northampton some time in September.

Tebaldi, who is 71, has served as the executive director since 1985, 11 years after the organization was created in 1974 as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its headquarters are on Bridge Street in Northampton.

Tebaldi said that back when he started, the organization only had one stream of revenue, which was a grant provided by the federal government. During his time as director, Tebaldi said, he increased the organization’s revenue, which enabled them to create more grants and fund more humanities projects.

Mass Humanities “conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts,” according to the organization’s website.

The organization hosts different lectures and events and also creates and awards grants — all based on the humanities.

Tebaldi said he feels like the organization has made a difference in the lives of people in the community, by making the community engage, learn and think about humanities.

Boyles, who worked as the vice president of content for Mass Humanities’ counterpart in Louisiana, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, said he applied for the position because he “admired Mass humanities.”

Boyles praised the organization for its community outreach and engagement, saying he admired the way Mass Humanities “listens to people all over Massachusetts.” Boyles was hired after a six-month, nationwide search by a 10-member committee created by Mass Humanities.

Tebaldi said he had “nothing to do” with Boyles’ hiring but said he was “a great choice.”

“He reminds me of myself 30 years ago,” said Tebaldi. “He’s got fire in his belly.”

Tebaldi said the organization would benefit from his retirement, and the fresh leadership and ideas Boyles will bring.

Tebaldi said he plans on staying busy in retirement, traveling abroad with his wife and managing his son’s timber framing business.

“My wife and I have a long list of places we want to visit,” he said.

Tebaldi said he will miss his time at Mass Humanities, saying that he was “very privileged to have this job.” He said he didn’t ever really consider taking another job, and loved his ability to “serve the community.”

“This is an amazing job,” Tebaldi said.


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