Leadership, Key Staff, and Volunteers

Charles Orloff, Executive Director, has overseen the Observatory’s important scientific assets for over twenty years since joining the staff in 1998. He was instrumental in establishing the Observatory’s nonprofit Science Center in 1999 and has utilized his background as a former middle school principal to develop high-quality educational programs. Charles holds degrees from Boston University and the University of Hartford and has a “Special Studies in Education” certificate from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Don McCasland, Program Director, is an educator and kite historian who joined the staff in 2000. He received his BFA in Visual Design for the Communication Arts from Emerson College and has taught about harnessing the wind with kites and sky appreciation for over 35 years. When not flying kites or teaching others to fly them, Don works with teachers and students to develop educational programs covering all aspects of Atmospheric Science and leads after-school enrichment and summer camp programs.

Michael Iacono, Chief Scientist, leads climate research at the Observatory and has been a part-time volunteer and observer since 1987. He conducts and presents studies on local climate change, and he is leading an effort to prepare a digital archive of the extensive Blue Hill daily observations. In addition, he manages and develops the organization’s website. Mike has a M.S. in Atmospheric Science from the State University of New York at Albany, and he is a Senior Staff Scientist at Atmospheric and Environmental Research.

Benjamin Turner, Chief Observer, coordinates the daily operation of the Observing Program at Blue Hill, and he joined the staff in 2018. Ben began his interest in the Observatory as a student intern in 2015 while pursuing his B.S. in Meteorology at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, which he received in 2016. Ben is also continuing his education through an emergency management certificate program at Community College of Rhode Island.  

Samantha Richard is the Observatory’s Climate Science and STEM Community Outreach Manager. Sam is a recent graduate from Fitchburg State University with a degree in Environmental and Earth Science and a minor in Biology. She has been a valued part-time Weather Observer and team member at the Observatory since 2017 while pursuing her college degree.

Matt Douglas is a part-time weather observer who returned to the staff in 2019 after previously working at BHO as an observer from 1999-2005.  

Cheryl Cummings, who joined the staff in 2019, is working on a contract basis with the Observatory’s Executive Director, staff and Board to strengthen the organization’s internal systems and processes and raise new funds. Cheryl has extensive Boston-based programmatic and funding expertise in education having worked directly with BELL’s CEO, Earl Martin Phalen, program staff and board to raise $14M in strategic growth funding. Cheryl is passionate about building diversity in STEM fields.

Robert Skilling, Chief Observer (Emeritus), began working at Blue Hill as a part-time observer in 1960. He became the Chief Observer in 1978 and served in that role until his retirement in 2015. As a part-time volunteer, Bob continues to contribute to preserving the continuity of the Observatory operations.

Volunteers

The Observatory operates with support from a small group of volunteers—all ages and stages— throughout the year. We currently have four high school students who contribute on a regular basis by working in the gift shop, leading tours, helping with cleaning and landscaping and other projects. We also support high school and college interns during the summer who receive training on all aspects of the Observatory operations including Observing, Tours, Educational Programs, Gift Shop Management, Building Maintenance and Landscape Work. These internships are mutually beneficial as the Observatory gets crucial work done and the students learn a variety of skills and develop understanding about the history of Blue Hill. They also gain experience by participating in the one-day corporate volunteer events hosted by the Observatory.