Spirits Alive is governed by a board of volunteer members that manage its finances, mission, projects, and goals. Currently, the board is comprised of 10 dedicated individuals. While board members present a broad spectrum experience and interests, all desire to protect and preserve Portland's earliest historic landscape, the Eastern Cemetery.

Janet Alexander


Janet began volunteering at the cemetery as a member of the stone conservation team and joined the board in 2014. She also is a member of the Association of Gravestone Studies (AGS) and the Maine Old Cemetery Association (MOCA). When not quilting or testing recipes for Milk Street and America’s Test Kitchen, she works to keep the efforts of Spirits Alive and the City of Portland aligned, attempts to coordinate board activities, and frequently scurries into Eastern Cemetery with co-conservator and husband Bill Dalbec to straighten and repair stones when no one is looking.

Diane Brakeley

Diane joined the Spirits Alive board in 2014. In addition to serving as vice-president, Diane manages our publicity and joins the conservation efforts whenever that involves digging in the dirt. She is a member of MOCA and AGS as well as several genealogy groups. Diane is also an artist who creates found-object jewelry.

Holly Doggett

Holly is a founding member of the Spirits Alive board and has volunteered at the cemetery since the second workday in the spring of 2006. She has served as secretary of the board and manages the Spirits Alive social media presence and website. When she's not creeping around, taking photos of old doorknobs, she creeps around old cemeteries and dreams up new projects she'll never finish.

Elena Lippolis

Elena joined the Board of Spirits Alive in 2017 after volunteering in 2016 with the stone conservation team. She has a degree in archaeology and currently is enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University working toward a Master of Arts degree with a concentration in public history. Elena also volunteers at the Carter Collection Center laboratory at Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She lives in Portland with Forrest, her partner of 11 years, and their two fur kids, Piper and Emmett.

Matthew Mueller

Matt has been a member of the board since 2014. His duties include serving as the volunteer coordinator, arranging gardening and cleanup days for the cemetery, and assisting with treasury tasks. Matt loves history and is an amateur archaeologist. When not in the Eastern Cemetery, Matt works at Prudential in disability claims. He is a USATF-certified official and can be seen around high school and college tracks throughout Maine. Matt lives in Portland with his wife Alice and greyhound Eleanor. If you're interested to learn about volunteer opportunities with Spirits Alive, he is happy to answer your questions.

Ron Romano


Ron joined Spirits Alive in 2013. In addition to serving as Treasurer, Ron manages the guided tours program at Eastern Cemetery and dabbles in stone conservation. His first book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams (The History Press, 2016), tells the story of the region’s first stone-cutter whose hand-carved markers are found in 75 communities of Maine. His second book, Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery: A Field of Ancient Graves (The History Press, 2017), is an “armchair tour” of the 350-year-old burying ground, rich with history of the landscape and stories of the regular people whose journeys ended at Eastern Cemetery. Ron has also published a variety of manuscripts about Eastern Cemetery that are available in the collections of the Maine Historical Society. He is a member of the Maine Old Cemetery Association (MOCA) and the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS). He is a frequent lecturer on early gravestones and historic cemeteries, and hosts cemetery walks throughout the region.

Dave Smith

Our newest board member, Dave's bio is on its way!

Peter Weigel

Pete has been a member of the board for a few years. He is a faithful tour guide at the Eastern Cemetery, and also volunteers at Evergreen Cemetery. He put in 25 years at Deering High School as a special education instructor and worked in the after-school drama program. He has a vast background in theater, film, and Los Angeles television, which makes him stand out in his alter ego as Billy Hahn (an Eastern Cemetery spirit). Pete also serves on the Research & Education Committee.

Sarah Whitmore

Sarah has been a member of the board for a few years. She serves on the stone conservation volunteer team and a representative on the Green Space Committee for Spirits Alive. Sarah is also a member of the Research & Education Committee.

Alessa Wylie

Alessa joined the board in 2017. She first discovered the Eastern Cemetery while taking the Portland History Docent class in 2015. Next came a job with Greater Portland Landmarks which, to her great delight, also involved leading school groups through the cemetery during their visits to the Portland Observatory. Then, before she knew it, she was on the Spirits Alive board. She serves on the Research & Education Committee and lives in South Portland with her husband Steve and their two dogs, Finley and Brisco.

Martha Zimicki

Martha has been a member of the board for a few years. She has served as board president and leads the stone conservation efforts by working with the City of Portland, hiring professional conservators, and coordinating volunteer efforts.