The House of the Seven Gables Appoints New Executive Director

Sunday May 15, 2022

SALEM – Dakota Russell, a leader in the museum and historic sites community, has been named executive director of The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association in Salem, Massachusetts. He brings over 20 years of experience in management, interpretation and preservation, and a commitment to ensuring that the diverse viewpoints and stories of marginalized groups are better represented in the cultural landscape.

Most recently, Russell has been executive director of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, an organization that works to preserve the historic structures and artifacts on the site in northwest Wyoming where over 14,000 Japanese Americans were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. In this role, he coordinated a $5 million capital campaign to add a new wing to Heart Mountain’s award-winning museum, began the rehabilitation of the camp’s last surviving buildings, and managed the foundation’s national and international outreach activities. During his tenure, Heart Mountain became a national leader in educating the public about the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans and the importance of preserving liberty and civil rights for all Americans. 

“We are delighted to welcome Dakota to The House of Seven Gables and Salem,” said Kenneth C. Turino, board president, House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association. “His background makes him the ideal person to see to the sustainability of The Gables and strengthen its commitment to social justice that is central to The Gables’ 112-year history as a settlement house.” 

Prior to joining the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, Russell worked for many years with Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites, managing interpretive operations at the Nathan Boone Homestead, Osage Village, Harry S. Truman Birthplace, and Battle of Carthage State Historic Sites. He served as an integral member of the research and development team that created the Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site, including the restoration of the 1837 log home and rehabilitation of two historic cemeteries. As part of this project, he initiated the first comprehensive history of African American enslavement at the site, which informed interpretation and became a model for incorporating more diverse narratives statewide. 

“The House of the Seven Gables has both a rich history and a strong commitment to doing good in the world today,” Russell said. “I look forward to reaching new and wider audiences with this inspirational story.”

Russell is the board chair of the Park County, Wyoming, Historic Preservation Commission, and president of the Park County Museum Board, which oversees the Park County Archives and the Homesteader Museum. He received a B.A. in Social Science from the University of Wyoming.

Russell will assume his responsibilities as executive director of The House of the Seven Gables on June 6.Kara McLaughlin announced her June 2022 resignation from the job of executive director in 2021, giving The Gables’ trustees a year to locate its next executive director. McLaughlin served The Gables and its community for nine years, guiding the institution through the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. 

Designated a National Historic Landmark District, The House of the Seven Gables is best known today as the setting of world-renowned American author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel. The site is home to seven historic structures and colonial revival gardens. Professional staff welcome over 100,000 visitors annually for a journey that explores Salem’s robust maritime history, the site’s architectural gems and the literary legacy of Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

One of America’s most beloved historic homes, The House of the Seven Gables was built on Salem Harbor in 1668 by merchant and shipowner John Turner. In 1910, Salem philanthropist Caroline Emmerton restored the house and opened it to the public as a museum, using proceeds from ticket sales to fund settlement work that benefited immigrant families. Over a century later, The House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association is dedicated to continuing Emmerton’s preservation, community enrichment and educational efforts. 

For more information, visit or contact Ken Turino President, House of the Seven Gables Settlement Association at

617-240-2523 or email The House of Seven Gables is located at 115 Derby Street, Salem

The House of the Seven Gables 


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