We are pleased to welcome two new members to our team at The House of the Seven Gables.
In late September, Jacqueline Valatka joined us as Business Manager. She will be overseeing our finance and business operations. Jacquie has studied in four different college preparatory systems. A native of Kenya, her journey started with the KCE (Kenya Certificate of Education) which she completed at age 14, followed by the London GCE (General Certificate of Education) and the French Baccalaureate. In 1988, she was one of eight exchange students who came to the United States representing Kenya where she spent a year studying in San Antonio, Texas. She has earned two undergraduate degrees (a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and another in Finance) and an MBA focused on Finance and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. Jacqueline spent 21 years acquiring United States citizenship and she is proud to work for an organization that helps make this process easier for aspiring citizens. She has an impressive career in finance and budgeting and is already making valuable contributions to the organization. So far she has focused on ad-hoc reporting for senior management, strategic planning, budgeting and process improvements particularly in the accounting and finance areas. She enjoys the challenge of leveraging new technology to find more effective and efficient ways of doing business. Jacqueline is known for her energy and adventurous spirit. She enjoys teaching, reading, traveling, languages, photography, hiking, karate, swimming, playing the piano, dancing, cooking and much, much more. Jacqueline, her husband Joseph, and their two children reside in Salem, Massachusetts.
In late December, we also welcomed Elsabel Rincón as our new Manager of Settlement Programs. Elsabel is replacing Ana Nuncio, who retired at the end of December. Elsabel shares some of her story with us below.
“I moved to Salem at the age of 10 from my native Dominican Republic. I arrived armed with two powerful English phrases: “I don’t speak English” and “Please, don’t go”, the latter from a Milli Vanilli song that often came on the radio. On summer days, I would stroll down Congress and Derby Streets while making my way to Salem Willows. This was a comforting place where the embracing salty smell of the ocean and the waves dancing to the rhythm of merengue provided me not only a physical, but multisensory connection to home. On these walks, I passed The House of the Seven Gables, whose settlement story and mission were unbeknown to me at the time.
After a ‘silent period’ during my language acquisition and acculturation process, I quickly started to become the “Voice” and “Cultural Navigator” for my family and community. I took this role very seriously, adopting it as my personal mission – one that would ultimately shape and drive my professional journey. I became a “buffer and bridge” by increasingly advocating for my community; like the Settlement Programs at The House of the Seven Gables.
Arriving to Salem with a strong sense of cultural heritage and knowledge of my history allowed me to adapt, embrace and connect to the Salem community and its history. This is precisely the mission of The House of The Seven Gables Settlement Association: to welcome, educate and include our evolving and growing community through the preservation of history and cultural heritage. I see myself in every student in our ESL-Citizenship classrooms; in every child connecting their culture to their new home through Caribbean Connections; and eager for the cultural exchange through our Immigration Community Conversations. I am beyond humbled to be part of the team that continues to write and shape this powerful story that leverages the power of history and cultural heritage to strengthen our community.”
This post was written by Julie Arrison-Bishop