The Heritage Park Museum Project Team is composed of members dedicated to preserving the community’s heritage for future generations. The members of this team are as follows:
Laura Babcock, Director
Laura is a long-time community leader, former Planning Commissioner and Heritage Preservation Commissioner with a life-long passion for preserving history. She served on the Orchard Heritage Interpretive Exhibit Project Advisory Board for the society and was the Project Manager during its construction. Laura also chaired and served as Project Manager and Coordinator for the successful Museum Barn Relocation Project for the City of Sunnyvale in 2003, for the construction of the museum in 2008, and the city-wide Centennial Celebration in 2012. She has continued to be the volunteer director for the museum for the past ten years.
Laura is a 1986 graduate of Leadership Sunnyvale and serves on the Historical Society Board of Directors. She brings extensive experience in leadership, project development and project management to this team. Laura has been a resident of Sunnyvale, California since 1979.
Leslie Lawton, Past President
Leslie is a long-time member of the Historical Society as well as a museum docent and has been a past editor of our monthly newsletter for ten years. She owned her own transcription business, We Produce, and has lived in Sunnyvale since 1976, but in Santa Clara County since 1959. Prior to starting her business she worked for Syntex Pharmaceuticals in Palo Alto for 18 years. There, she served as Manager of Community Relations.
Leslie has served as a board member and President of both the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce (six years) and Sunnyvale Community Services (twelve years). She is also a 1999 graduate of Leadership Sunnyvale. Leslie was recognized for her community service in 2015, receiving the Murphy Award of Lifetime Community Contribution. In 2016, Leslie was awarded Lifetime membership of the Chamber of Commerce.
Flo Stafford, President
Flo has lived in Sunnyvale all her life and has a great interest in the unique history of this town. She grew up in a family who served actively in the community and is proud to carry on the tradition helping to share the history of Sunnyvale with its citizens and museum visitors. Her hope for the future is to increase the museum’s volunteer base. She is a lifetime member of the Sunnyvale Historical Society as was her mother, Pearl Gilmore. Flo’s father, Bill Gilmore, served on the Sunnyvale City Council for ten years and was elected mayor in 1954.
Flo has been married to Douglas Stafford since 1962 and they have two children. They have been in the storage business in Sunnyvale since 1985. Since 1989 Flo has been a member of the Sunnyvale Rotary Club and was the first woman to serve as its president. She is a 30-year member of the Sunnyvale Tennis Club and still plays on its USTA teams. In 1995 she graduated Leadership Sunnyvale.
Frank Quinn, Vice President/Programs
Frank Quinn is a native of Sunnyvale, where he currently resides, after over 18 years as a resident of Los Gatos and Saratoga. He began his career as a successful, serial, high–tech entrepreneur, serving as Director of Sales for Scorpio Communications, playing a major role in negotiating a successful $80 million dollar acquisition by US Robotics. Before that, Frank co-founded Madge Networks Inc., then publicly traded revenues in excess of $400 million. He worked in several other highly successful high-tech startups before deciding to make a career change in 2002 to become a realtor in the hot Silicon Valley real estate market. Frank is currently working at Sereno Group Real Estate. He enjoys time with his family and friends and serving his community.
Tara Martin-Milius, Secretary
Tara Martin-Milius, facilitator, teacher, former Sunnyvale Council Member and SMNA community leader, supports the development of communities through collaboration, contribution, and celebration. An organic gardener, she is committed to sustainability in: environment, fiscal practices, transportation and land use. Her business focuses on helping groups achieve their goals and teaching management ‘soft skills’ topics. She is currently working with Silicon Valley Clean Energy as Outreach Coordinator.
Allan Smirni, Treasurer
Allan Smirni was born and raised in New York City by immigrant parents from the Caribbean. He graduated from Brooklyn College, CUNY in 1960 with a degree in Economics and Accounting. Upon graduation, he entered the US Air Force as an officer, and served eight years first as an accounting and finance officer and then as a helicopter pilot. After leaving the USAF, he attended the Berkeley Law School, graduating in 1971 with a JD degree. During the next 39 years, he practiced corporate law first with a law firm in San Francisco, and then with five technology companies in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties as Corporate/General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary. He retired in 2010. Allan has been married for 24 years to a woman with many years of volunteer activities, including the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce and the Sunnyvale Heritage Park (Outdoor) Exhibit. They have lived in Sunnyvale for 32 years.
Allan has enjoyed the study of history since college and has visited many historical museums during his travels around the world with his wife. They have been members of the Historical Society for over 10 years. During his retirement, Allan has volunteered at his church, including St. Vincent de Paul and Bread of Life. He is pleased to have been asked to serve as Treasurer of the Society in June 2016. Allan and his wife have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.
Dixie Larsen, Board Member
Dixie De Vore Larsen grew up in Nevada with three siblings, a few horses, and great local rodeos. She graduated from the University of Utah with a BS degree in Education, then taught in public and private schools for the next several years in Utah and Pennsylvania.
In 1970, Dixie moved to California, and 1976 purchased a home in Sunnyvale. She worked in marketing with a textbook publishing company, sales training with Hewlett-Packard, followed by positions with three medical device manufacturers. She retired in 2012, which allowed more time to pursue her life-long hobby of antiques restoration.
For over ten years, Dixie was mid-Peninsula Director of Public Affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In that capacity, she arranged for church members to annually converge on Sunnyvale parks, installing park upgrades and plantings in a single day that would usually take six months. As a result, Dixie was named Sunnyvale’s 2011 Outstanding Community Volunteer of the Year.
In 2014, she became a Commissioner on Sunnyvale’s Heritage Preservation Commission; two years remain on her second term. Since 2015, Dixie has been volunteering at the Sunnyvale Heritage Park Museum in various capacities: serving at the popular teas, capturing important data on spreadsheets, and helping to inventory and document the Museum’s extensive archives. She is a recent member of the Sunnyvale Historical Society.
Dixie likes visiting her daughter and five adorable grandchildren in Utah.
Dennis Mueller, School Program Coordinator
Dennis is a native of southern Illinois and attended Ohio State University, earning his Ph.D in Education with a specialization in the history of technology. He taught in high schools and universities before moving to California in 1993 to be a project manager for Hewlett-Packard, managing global security projects. Dennis has been a resident of Sunnyvale since 1994 and joined the SHS in 2017. He serves at the museum as the School Program Coordinator and as a docent. He enjoys helping third graders realize that Sunnyvale didn’t just happen; people built Sunnyvale to the city it is today. He also likes to inform the students that it is their responsibility to continue this heritage and development as they become informed and engaged residents.
Dina Bensen, Docent Coordinator
She has been an active volunteer in her children’s schools, and followed her passion for history and preservation by engaging in many different organizations: as a member of the Palo Alto Historical Society, and the Victorian Preservation Association of Santa Clara Valley, as well as serving as a docent at Thunderbird Lodge National Historic Site on Lake Tahoe, and at the North Star Conservancy National Historic Site by architect Julia Morgan. In 2017, Dina became a member of the Sunnyvale Historical Society and serves as the museum’s Docent Coordinator.
Other advisory committees and chairs are established as needed.
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