Beacon Hill Seminars is a membership organization of people who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth.

Our Mission

Beacon Hill Seminars is a membership organization of people who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth. It promotes the active engagement of members in the learning process and encourages a sense of community among them. Members have the opportunity to take a broad array of courses, conducted in seminar, lecture and other formats.

Our Beginnings

In early 2000, under the leadership of Jack Curtin, a “founding council” gathered on Beacon Hill to consider forming a community-based program for lifelong learning. The council’s vision was to provide a diverse set of courses in which participants could broaden their intellectual horizons, learn from one another, and have fun along the way. That vision took root in fall 2000 as the newly organized Beacon Hill Seminars (BHS) offered 13 courses with about 60 participants.

As a guide for the years ahead, our founders set forth a number of operational tenets:

  • Remain as an independent organization run by and for the members.
  • Maintain openness to all, with no admission requirements. Welcome members of all ages and from all neighborhoods. Extend full or partial scholarships to those needing financial assistance.
  • Offer intellectually engaging courses that facilitate discussion. Avoid how-to courses.
  • Provide experienced course leaders who serve on a pro-bono basis and welcome the opportunity to engage adult learners.
  • Select board members who are active members of the program, either as teachers or participants.
  • Encourage volunteer opportunities for members who wish to play a part in various aspects of the program.
  • Keep administration and rules to a minimum.

Our Progress

Our courses take place in historic venues in Beacon Hill and have become well established as the core of our program. We have increased the number of courses available each semester; extended the range of subjects they cover; broadened the type of teaching formats to include a mix of seminars, lectures, off-site visits, and brief pop-up courses on timely topics; and incorporated audio/visual technology into the classrooms. In the process, our membership has grown to about 200 individuals coming from Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and beyond.

Member Engagement

We have facilitated opportunities for members to get to know one another through the kickoff event we hold before each semester and through other events. We have also gained immeasurably from members’ volunteer efforts in planning and hosting these events, running our annual book sale, serving as class coordinators, generating ideas for courses, leading courses, and recruiting new members.

Organizational Effectiveness

We have improved our administrative operations, enhanced our communication capacities, benefitted from strategic planning, and established a solid financial foundation for the program while keeping a tight lid on costs to members. We are proud that about 25 percent of our revenues come from member contributions.

Board of Directors 2017-2018

Officers
Mark R. Yessian
President

Thomas Gill
Vice President and Clerk

William Sherden
Treasurer

Directors

Mitchell Adams
Lee Behnke
Liana Cheney
Bev Christians
Dave Driscoll
J. Ryan Gunsalus
Elizabeth Sanders
Barbara Sinclair
Karen Sturges

Cheryl Miller
Executive Director

Thank you!

We would like to thank our invaluable group leaders who give so generously of their time and expertise, and our members who inspire and challenge us to meet their intellectual expectations. We would also like to thank the following:

Joanne Legge
Artu Rosticceria & Trattoria
Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro
Cambridge Trust Company
Church of the Advent
J.M. Forbes and Meeting House Offices
Tom Kershaw and Hampshire House
Hingham Institution for Savings
Lala Rokh
Toscano Restaurant