A Peek Behind the Curtain: Introducing The Bedford Citizen’s Leadership – Part I

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

In 2012, The Bedford Citizen began publishing stories for and about the Town of Bedford.  Our three founders (Kim Siebert MacPhail, Meredith McCulloch, and Julie McCay Turner) jumped headfirst into the realm of local online journalism and soon found themselves with a tiger by the tail.

They quickly called for a board of directors made up of local residents to guide the development of The Citizen. In addition to publishing five days a week, The Citizen has become a 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation and with support from the Bedford Cultural Council has added BeTC, a community calendar. The board’s leadership and talents have enabled our growth and provided prudent oversight of our daily operation. It’s a busy group!

Over the next few weeks, we would like to introduce you to these folks.  They are your friends and neighbors and like you, they care deeply about Bedford and its future.  In just five years they have helped transform the early enthusiasm of our founders into a highly valued resource for the town.

So…we are pleased to introduce to you this week the first four of our board members: Ginni Spencer, president, along with board members Nancy Asbedian, Dot Bergin, Joan Bowen, and Bob Dorer.

Ginni Spencer, President

Ginni Spencer – Courtesy image, all rights reserved

Ginni has lived in Bedford since 1975.  She and her husband, David, raised two children here (Jennifer, Susanne) and David established a business which still has its headquarters on Alfred Circle.  Active in various local organizations, Ginni traces her interest in The Bedford Citizen back to her early years in town when she was active in the Bedford League of Women Voters.  “Central to the work of the League is the principle of clear, reliable and objective information as a means to informed decision making.  I see that reflected squarely in the mission of The Bedford Citizen.”

Ginni has been on the Board of The Citizen since its founding in 2012 and became President in 2015. She leads the executive sub-committee focused on day-to-day operations, co-chairs the fund-raising committee, and assists with finding writers and other volunteers to work on The Citizen.

“Bedford is a unique community – we’re small and highly visible to one another.  Ensuring cohesiveness and working for the good of the whole town – even if there are differences of opinion about what that is – has characterized every local organization I’ve been involved in.  Town Meeting is yet another expression of that.  I believe that providing reliable information about the what, when, and how of our decision-making process and keeping people informed about the cultural life of our town enable a strong community core that will keep Bedford  a vibrant place in which to live.”

Ginni worked for 25 years as a Human Resources professional specializing in technology start-ups, including Chipcom Corporation (now 3Com), American Super Conductor, and Wildfire Communications.  She is a graduate of Penn State University.

Nancy Asbedian, Board Member

Nancy and her late husband Val moved to town in 1975 and always felt it was a good decision.  Their two children, Jamie and Susie, were raised here and attended Bedford schools.  Both Nancy and Val have a long history of service to Bedford.

Nancy was active in the League of Women Voters for many years and served on its Observer Corps Committee which was responsible for attending town board and committee meetings and reporting back to the membership.  “The unbiased reports from the Observer Corps were a vital source of town news to League members.  It was this concept of informed citizenry that led me to join the board of The Citizen which continues that tradition of reporting to the entire community.  The Citizen brings that same commitment to objectivity and accuracy.”  Nancy has served as Clerk and member of the board since its founding in 2012.

Nancy has worked on domestic violence issues for more than 15 years and was a founding member of Domestic Violence Victim’s Assistance Program.

Professionally, Nancy was a Certified Orthoptist for 25 years.  She is a graduate of Simmons College.

Dot Bergin, Board Member

Dot Bergin – Courtesy image, all rights reserved

Dot Bergin moved to  Bedford with her family in 1954.  At that time, Bedford was rapidly changing from a small, almost rural town, to a thriving suburban community.  New housing – mainly modest ranches and Capes – was sprouting up all over town.  In 1954 there were NO women serving on any major town boards.  The Selectmen managed the town’s affairs and the annual town meeting was sometimes a chaotic event.  Dot recalls vividly an annual meeting in which a hotly debated issue over allowing dogs to run freely resulted in the Moderator instructing town constables to escort one very vocal member out of the meeting.

Now Bedford is noted for its fine professional management and our annual Town Meetings are models of well-moderated debate and civility.

Dot was intrigued by the idea of The Bedford Citizen from its very beginning and she is pleased to serve on the Board of Directors.  She fully supports The Citizen’s mission to inform residents about local issues and to provide information about the many local groups that knit the community together – as we are now doing with the new BeTC calendar.

Aside from writing an occasional article (the Bedford Free Public Library is her “beat,”) she also edits copy for other Citizen writers.  Dot feels that her perspective as a long-time Bedford resident gives her valuable background on issues of current interest.  She shamelessly “promotes” The Citizen at every opportunity and has enlisted support from her far-flung family members, all of whom are dedicated readers.

Before taking up her career as a professional librarian with a solar energy company, Dot served several terms on the Board of Trustees of the Bedford Library, including a term as chair. During this period, in the mid-1960s, she advocated strongly for a new, enlarged library building on Mudge Way to meet the needs of the growing town. Dot has also served on many committees at First Parish on the Common.

Joan Bowen, Board Member

Joan Bowen – Courtesy image, all rights reserved

As we house-hunted over 45 years ago, we recognized Bedford as the community where we wanted to live.  To two New York City dwellers, it appeared to be a welcoming place and that is what we found.  Even before the boxes were unpacked, I joined the First Parish and the League of Women Voters.  Through these connections as well as others as I served on town committees or affiliated with other organizations, I found ready access to information about our community.  Our three children were educated in the Bedford schools, providing another source.

However, living in the same community for this length of time provides one with the opportunity to recognize changes in community life that may be threatening to valued elements of the past.  Many of the thriving organizations of the seventies that provided active sources of information no longer exist or limp along with minimal volunteer support.  The local newspaper that was Bedford-centric has changed dramatically with changing reading habits and corporate ownership.

This is where I see the potential of The Bedford Citizen as today’s answer to ensuring that all Bedford residents have access to information about what is happening in our community.  Information not only about what Town boards and committees are doing, but also the opportunities for involvement, learning, and entertainment. With the addition of the BeTC calendar to our coverage, The Citizen offers all of this to the Bedford community, today’s electronic form of “word of mouth” communication.

The Bedford Citizen had its origins in an earlier attempt to initiate a local electronic newspaper.  The founders — Kim Siebert MacPhail, Meredith McCulloch, and Julie McCay Turner — asked me to help prepare a charter and by-laws as the first steps toward the formation of a board, incorporation, and recognition as a non-profit.  I then served as the president of the founding Board as we initiated operations.  Today my involvement is as a member of the Board, the Executive Committee, and as an occasional writer.

My professional work was centered on nonprofit management primarily of national organizations based in the Boston area.  Now retired, I continue that work as a volunteer providing consulting services to Greater Boston area non-profits through the Soar Management Consulting Group.  My education includes a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and an MBA from Bentley University.

Bob Dorer, Board Member

Bob Dorer – Courtesy image (c) all rights reserved

Bob and his wife Sarah moved from Cambridge to Bedford in 1983.  Over the course of the next 33 years, Bob has served on a number of town committees and boards, including the Conservation Commission, Sidewalk Committee, Planning Board, Library Trustees, Cultural Council, and Transportation Advisory Committee.   “I feel strongly about being an active part of the community and helping to make Bedford a better place to live.And I love the fact that Bedford has such a strong participatory local government and group of civic organizations where everyone gives it their all and puts town interests ahead of their own.”

Bob has been a member of the Board of The Bedford Citizen since 2012, and also reports and writes for the paper.   “To me, the most fulfilling aspect of working on The Citizen is covering various town committees and boards and then writing articles for publication.   The editors have been very generous in helping me to sharpen my writing skills.   I only wish I could do more coverage.   We need a strong and independent source of local area information.”

After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Civil Engineering Bob developed a career in the transportation field of operations and safety.    His particular expertise is in the area of railroad operations and safety assurance.   He has worked for the Missouri Pacific (now part of the Union Pacific Railroad), the Boston and Maine, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.    He is a member of several  professional organizations including the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association, the New England Railroad Club, WTS-Boston Chapter, and the Transportation Research Board of the Nation

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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