The Heritage Park Museum Executive Team is composed of members dedicated to preserving the community’s heritage for future generations. The members of this team are:
Margarete Minar, President
An interest in local history as well as graphic design led Margarete to offer her services to the production of the SHS newsletter back in 2017. From creating a new look for the publication, she quickly ascended to newsletter editor and has been serving in that capacity until 2022. Margarete also designed the current website and creates fliers for museum events, such as the bi-annual teas. California native Margarete Minar was born in Los Angeles and grew up in San Diego. She currently lives in Saratoga with her husband Igor and two elementary school-aged children. Margarete lived and worked in Central Europe for a number of years and taught English in both Slovakia and Austria before moving to Silicon Valley in 2006. She holds a certificate as a technical writer from San José State University and created product user guides for IT companies, learning graphic design skills through that experience. Margarete’s leadership skills and innovative ideas in the newsletter editing team led to her appointment to the general board of directors in 2019. She started her term as president of the society in June of 2022.
Dennis Mueller, Vice President
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 served at the museum as the School Program Coordinator and as a docent for several years. He enjoyed 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.
Nancy Smith, Vice President
Nancy grew up in Illinois and in 1986 earned her BA in Mathematics from Olivet Nazarene University.
Nancy served on non-profit boards starting in her Twenties and helped found the Third Street Community Center. Eventually, she shifted her focus to politics and serving on boards and commissions in her community and county before running for office. Nancy moved to Sunnyvale in 1994, and in 1998 started working at NVIDIA Corporation headquarters in Santa Clara, California, where she is now a Program Manager.
Nancy served on the Sunnyvale City Council from 2016 through 2020, capping off her term as Vice Mayor. Always passionate about service for her community, Nancy joined Rotary in 2006. In addition to advocating for social change and innovation, she cares deeply about learning from history, preserving and restoring the environment, and sponsoring young leaders.
Joanna Levasseur, Treasurer
Joanna Levasseur was born and grew up in a family of historians in Poland. She first moved to Sunnyvale in 2002. Joanna earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from San José State University. After graduation, she started her career as a financial
data analyst and spent the next decade working for a boutique investment management firm in Menlo Park. As a portfolio manager Joanna provided comprehensive investment management and financial planning services to high-net worth individuals and families. After the firm was acquired by Bank of New York Mellon, she served as a Vice President, counseling individuals and families on a variety of financial planning issues. Joanna is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Joanna earned her Master of Science in Taxation (MST) from San José State University in 2019 and holds an active California CPA license. She has also worked in public accounting as a tax preparer.
Joanna and her husband are raising two children and are very grateful for the wonderful and caring community of Sunnyvale. In her free time, Joanna likes to hike and go for runs, and travel with her family. She loves volunteering for the museum which brings people closer as a community and connects past and present so citizens can understand and preserve our heritage. As an immigrant herself, Joanna is happy to see the celebration of diversity that is at the heart of Silicon Valley’s prosperity.
Jim Reynolds, Secretary
Jim stepped into the role of Secretary of the Board in late 2019. He already has a vast experience in working on the board from his years as President in 2013-2015. Jim fills many roles at the museum, including updating the museum’s computers every month and writing the letters to our members for the Annual Fund and to remind them to renew their membership. He was instrumental in having the solar system installed on the museum’s roof as well as the PA system for Speaker Nights. He shares his passion for local history with visitors as a docent. Outside of the museum, Jim serves as a volunteer for the Sunnyvale Community Services.
Laura Babcock, Museum Director
currentLaura 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.
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.
Shanna Gaudenti, Museum Manager
Shanna is the first person to hold the newly created position of Museum Manager. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the museum, including opening and closing on the days the museum is open to visitors, scheduling maintenance work and inspections, fielding research inquiries, and scheduling docents, among many other tasks.
Shanna has a special interest in Sunnyvale’s agricultural past from her own upbringing in a small farming town in the Central Valley. Before she joined the museum, Shanna was a social worker for the City of San José and an elementary school teacher in Fresno. She earned her BA in Liberal Arts and teaching credential from CSU Fresno, as well as an MA in Counseling Psychology from National University. Shanna currently serves as vice chair on Sunnyvale’s Heritage Preservation Commission.
Other advisory committees and chairs are established as needed.
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