The Heritage Team

It takes a team of talented professionals to execute day-to-day operations at The Heritage. To learn more about some of the key members on our team, click the names listed below.

Dr. Marco Tomasi

Dr. Marco Tomasi is the Executive Director at The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph, Michigan. Dr. Tomasi specializes in bringing out the best in people and organizations. His career includes an extensive record of successes in private sector, government, clinical, academic, and community applications. Born and raised in St. Joseph, Dr. Tomasi is a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Western Michigan University. Dr. Tomasi completed his graduate studies at Florida State University.

Aitor Valdesogo

Aitor Valdesogo is an Upton Graduate Fellow in Public History at The Heritage. Aitor’s research directly supports development of our Permanent Exhibit Project. In addition, Aitor oversees The Heritage’s Historical Archives, ensuring proper handling, care, and organization of its contents. Aitor is a PhD student in History at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in 20th-century Latin America. He holds a B.A. in History and a M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Salamanca, Spain. His research interests focus on Latin American exile communities in the 1970s, with special attention to Mexico as a center of cultural and intellectual exchange. He is also interested in political and diplomatic history, as well as Latin American authoritarian regimes and the U.S. foreign policy towards the region.

Bella Bacolor

Bella Bacolor is an Undergraduate Public History Intern at The Heritage. A graduate of St. Joseph High School, Bella is an Anthropology major with minors in Spanish and Museum Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to joining The Heritage, Bella worked at the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library in St. Joseph, MI.

James Kimmerly

James (Jim) Kimmerly is The Heritage’s Facilities Supervisor. Jim oversees maintenance of our building and its vital systems. He has 37 years experience in the construction industry as a Sheet Metal Worker. Jim’s experiences in the varied aspects of the Sheet Metal Trade and creative problem solving keep our facility happy and healthy.

Juan Vargas Hernández

Juan Vargas Hernández is an Upton Graduate Fellow in Public History at The Heritage. Juan’s research directly supports development of our Permanent Exhibit Project. Juan also oversees The Heritage’s Historical Archives and conducts additional research related to the history of St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, and the surrounding community. Away from The Heritage, Juan is a PhD student in History at the University of Notre Dame specializing in Indigenous and Black Royalism during Colombia’s independence process. Originally from Santander, Colombia, Juan earned his B.A. in History from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI.

Karlie Hinkle

Karlie Hinkle is a Senior Museum Engagement Facilitator at The Heritage. In addition to greeting our weekend visitors and answering their questions about our exhibits, Karlie is also responsible for reviewing The Heritage’s past youth education and outreach programs and shaping what they will become in the future. On occasion, she can even be found out on the North Pier supporting lighthouse tour operations. Karlie is currently a PhD student in Industrial/Organizational Behavior Management at Western Michigan University. She completed her B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Behavior Analysis at the University of Houston – Clear Lake, and holds an A.A. in Social Sciences and Human Services from Houston Community College. When not at The Heritage, Karlie can be found teaching Psychology courses at Western Michigan University, conducting research in the areas of performance improvement and skill acquisition, and consulting with local law enforcement agencies.

Lydia Majewski

Lydia Majewski is a Collections Specialist / History Research Associate at The Heritage. Her responsibilities at The Heritage include work on modernizing the organization of our Archives, responding to research requests, aiding in the development of new exhibits, and supporting The Heritage’s tours. After graduating from Purdue University, where she earned a BA in Political Science and Global Studies, Lydia initially joined The Heritage as a Public History Intern.

Marci Smith

Marci Smith is an Event Supervisor at The Heritage. Marci oversees set-up and execution of events hosted at The Heritage, ensuring the expectations of the client and their guests are achieved. Marci is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and worked at Ford Motor Company for 10 years. Marci and her family relocated to St. Joseph 16 years ago, and fell in love with the lovely community along the beach.

Megan Durczak

Megan Durczak joined The Heritage in 2021 and serves as an Event Supervisor. Her main responsibilities are overseeing events and their set-ups while ensuring the expectations of the client and their guests are being achieved. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, and has a background in hospitality management from running a small resort hotel and restaurant in the Sister Lakes area for over 25 years. While not originally from Michigan, she is very familiar with the area and its history having spent all her summers here at her family’s cottage.

Nolan Becker

Nolan Becker is a Public History Volunteer at The Heritage. Nolan started at The Heritage as a Public History Intern in 2023, and since then has done many great things at our museum — including co-presenting a talk as part of our Lecture Series. Nolan is a graduate of St. Joseph High School. Currently, he is a senior at Western Michigan University pursuing a Bachelors in Public History. Nolan’s responsibilities have included the management and care of The Heritage’s Archives, responding to research requests, and supporting The Heritage’s tours and field trips. Prior to joining The Heritage, Nolan completed an internship at The Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.

Rocky Perez

Rocky Perez is our Lighthouse Coordinator for the 2023 season. He earned his MA in Applied Behavior Analysis from California State University, Fresno and is currently pursuing a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Behavior Management from Western Michigan University. He has experience as a business consultant for a human service organization and running his own business. Rocky is in charge of operations at the lighthouse including scheduling private tours and training docents.

Zachary Yacobozzi

Zachary Yacobozzi is a Museum Engagement Facilitator at The Heritage. Zachary greets our weekend visitors, answers their questions about our exhibits, and provides guided tours. Zachary grew up in St. Joseph and at the age of 16 became the youngest high school graduate ever in the history of Lake Michigan Catholic. He completed his undergraduate studies at Transylvania University with a double major in English and Digital Arts & Media, and has a M.A. in Art & Design from Lindenwood University. Away from The Heritage, Zachary is an accomplished author, editor, and artist. His book The Completely True Adventures of Hercules Beetle and Electromaggot was published in 2015 and is available on Amazon.