Organization Member Bios
- Tom McCann Founder and Co-Chair
My name is Tom McCann and I am a long-time summer resident of Nantucket. My wife, Mary-Jo, and I were married at St. Mary’s Church in Nantucket over 30 years ago and have been coming to the island ever since with our three daughters.
I am an importer of home and garden décor, as well as a designer and manufacturer of pet toys. I love to travel and my occupation has taken me all over the world. I have visited 30+ countries over the years, but I still believe Nantucket is the most beautiful island on the planet and am so fortunate to be able to come back here year after year to vacation and spend time with my family and friends.
I founded Holidays for Heroes in 2012, after watching a Veterans Day celebration on the National Mall in Washington DC. Watching the brave men and women who were called to action to defend our freedom made me feel compelled to give back something for all that they gave for us.
After everything these veterans have gone through, I believe they should have the opportunity to see the beauty Nantucket has to offer. I feel that a trip to Nantucket provides the peaceful, relaxing and supportive environment that our brave men, women and their families deserve as we come together as a close-knit community to raise funds for the education of their children.
- Suzanne Forsyth
A full time resident of Nantucket, Suzanne Forsyth moved to the island with her husband Mark and son Jack from Hoboken, New Jersey. She was born and raised in New Jersey and has lived in Rockport, Massachusetts and Zurich, Switzerland. She graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
Suzanne began her career in New York City in executive search and recruiting in the technology field. She later advanced to technology and systems integration sales to the banking and brokerage industries. Suzanne has found her most recent work, as Chief Home Officer, the most rewarding.
Suzanne volunteered for many years at Wellspring House, a women’s shelter in Gloucester, MA. Since moving to Nantucket, Suzanne has volunteered her time to support The Montessori Children’s House of Nantucket in the position of fund raising Chairperson, instituting a highly successful Casino Night that has become a popular Nantucket winter entertainment. She has also served as both Board Secretary and Treasurer of Children’s House, and is currently serving as Board President. Suzanne has been a committee member of the Luna Festival which benefits Theatre Workshop of Nantucket and breast cancer research.
Suzanne enjoys traveling the world. She is a boater and scuba diver. She is an avid spinner and also loves to ride her road bike on the many paths Nantucket has to offer. When she is off the bike, she appreciates Nantucket’s natural beauty by hiking and going to the beach.
- Eric Goddard
Eric Goddard is a wash-a-shore from Michigan who arrived 25 years ago. After spending his first 11 years on Nantucket in the restaurant industry as waiter, maître d’, and wine steward Eric entered the payment processing business in 1999. Currently Eric is the president of Nantucket Payment Solutions and has a long-term relationship with Sage Payments, a division of Sage Software. Eric handles approximately 60% of Nantucket’s EFT needs and also handles relationships throughout the United States and Europe. Eric has served on a number of boards over the years such as St. Paul’s Vestry with service as a vestrymen and Junior Warden, Habitat for Humanity and Nantucket Student Soccer, Association amongst others. In 2011 Eric took over as the Nantucket Town Crier; a lifetime appointment to a rich tradition on island that dates back to the early 1800’s.
- Gloria Grimshaw
A native of northwestern New Jersey, Gloria Grimshaw has been a resident of New England for more than 35 years and has called Nantucket home since 1982. Real estate has been a main focus her entire time on-island. She began her real estate career with Lucille Jordan and has seen many changes in the intervening time. In 2007 she purchased the company with her business partner David Callahan, another long-time island broker. The transition from broker to principal has provided numerous challenges, allowing her to learn and grow in many new directions, as she now leads an office which thrives on team work and service.
Gloria holds the Nantucket community in high esteem and supports the island’s many worthy non-profits, both personally and professionally. She was involved with the MSPCA’s Capital Campaign and then served as a Council Member for 4 years. She was a Board Member of A Safe Place for ten years, serving as President for four of those years and Co-Chair of the organization’s major fund raising event. Gloria served as Secretary on the Board for Hospice Care of Nantucket and currently is a Board Member on the Nantucket Aids Network and Holidays for Heroes.
An avid exercise and outdoors enthusiast, Gloria can be found walking the many wonderful island nature trails with her dog Moxie, enjoying different beaches, mastering Pilates exercises and joyfully dancing to upbeat music in her Zumba classes.
- Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth Harris is a native of southeastern Massachusetts. She worked in various areas of the country as a traveling nurse, arriving on Nantucket in 2000 to be closer to family for the summer. That was to be the end of her wanderlust as she fell in love and married Brian Harris; the beginning of a whole new venture, the pinnacle of which is their two children, Will and Joan.
Elizabeth is Clinical Supervisor at Nantucket Cottage Hospital and is personally involved with many Island organizations; currently serving on the board of the Friends of Nantucket Public Schools, She is a Girl Scout Leader and is active in Little League and St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Liz first became aware of Holidays for Heroes when she attended a reception for the first Heroes who visited the island.She was captivated by their stories and their grace in telling them. Liz is very grateful to be a part in helping such a deserving and constantly amazing group of people.
- EJ Harvey
Executive Chef, E.J. Harvey has been cooking up community on Nantucket for 35 years. He has spent the majority of his life in and around the restaurant business, having grown up washing dishes and making salads in his Dad’s restaurant. E.J. is an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, ’75. A subsequent chef’s tour of the Caribbean, Hawaii and Jackson Hole, Wyoming eventually led Chef Harvey and his bride, Robin to Nantucket, which reminded him of his childhood in Newport, Rhode Island. E.J.’s first position among Nantucket’s culinary community was Executive Chef at the Jared Coffin House, under Phil Reade, circa 1980.
E.J. and his wife Robin opened the SeaGrille restaurant in 1992. He is a partner in the Brotherhood of Thieves, a tenured Luminary of the Nantucket Wine Festival, and owner of Nantucket Chowder Company. E.J. has served on the Board of Directors for the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, and is a past President of the Nantucket Restaurant Association.
While raising three kids in a family where giving back to the community is a priority, E.J. and Robin’s restaurant regularly hosts “nonprofit nights” – benefiting a variety of non-profit groups on the island. Robin was a coach and was on the School Committee and E.J. became involved with the Directors of the Boys and Girls Club. Since the early 90’s, his SeaGrille team volunteers each year to cater the Boys & Girls Club annual fundraiser, The Tim Russert Summer Groove. In addition, E.J. caters and supports Sustainable Nantucket, Friends of Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Nantucket Historical Association, and many others.
Chef Harvey’s awards include Nantucket Rotary Club’s Heartbeat of Rotary, as well as the Tim Russert Spirit of Hope. In 2009, E.J. ran the Boston Marathon with his son-in-law, Travis, as a member of the fundraising team for Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Robin and their two daughters, Adriene and Kari ran The marathon in 2014. E.J. and his family have always taken a genuine interest in giving back to the Nantucket community.
- Bert Johnson
Current work/status: Retired attorney
Military: Vietnam veteran
Awards: 2 Bronze Stars with V Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, 2 Purple Hearts, Air Medal, Air Assault Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnamese Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation
Work: Vice President, Secretary, General Counsel, Health Enterprises of America, Inc, Vice President, Acquisitions, U S Care, Inc., General Practice of Law- Nantucket, MA. Retired 2011
Boards: Chairman, Nantucket Housing Authority, President, Nantucket Rotary Club; 2004-2005, Board Member- Housing Nantucket, Chairman; Building Committee, Nantucket VFW Post 8608, Board Member, 8th Calvary Association, District Commissioner, Boy Scouts of America, Board Member Camp Richards Association, Board Member Tom Nevers Civic Association, President Property Owners Association of Tom Nevers East, Inc.
Education/ Degrees: BA Case Western Reserve University; Magna Cum Laude, JD New England Law; Deans List
Hobbies/ Interests: Boating, Beaching, Following the Sun
- Thea Kania Kaizer
An island native, Thea Kania Kaizer grew up in the hospitality industry on Nantucket Island and is now known as one of New England’s foremost innkeepers. Along with her husband, Captain Pete Kaizer, she owns and operates the Brant Point Inn and the Atlantic Mainstay.
A longtime board member of the Nantucket AIDS Network (NAN), she was honored in 2001 and 2004 with the NANNY award for exceptional service. She is also a member of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce and the Nantucket Angler’s Club, as well as being a current board member of the Nantucket Lodging Association.
Thea’s family spans generations of islanders, including her mother Dorothy (retired innkeeper), daughter Katie (photographer), son Peter (realtor), as well as the latest addition to the family, Stella, a Missouri rescue dog.
Thea is honored to be a member of Holidays for Heroes Board of Directors. “This is a wonderful organization that enables us to give back to our returning veterans and their families in a way that demonstrates our compassion and appreciation for their service.”
- Jeanne Norton
Jeanne Norton was born and raised in Boston, where she began her nursing career, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She moved to Nantucket Island with her husband during the mid-1980’s, to raise their two sons Kyle and Gaven. Professional experience has included Registered Nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and The Nantucket Cottage Hospital, as well as Nursing Supervisor in a community nursing agency. She has also provided in home physicals and assessments, as an independent contractor.
During these years, Jeanne started her own business as a devoted advocate for special needs children, in support of Island children and their families as they navigate the educational process.
Community service includes Board of Directors, Inky Santa, founder of the High School Ice Hockey Team, Whalers Booster Club membership and being a devoted fan and follower of all of her sons’ sports activities, of which there were many.
Jeanne is a active member of the Red Cross of Massachusetts;having begun as a volunteer disaster mental health provider for the Red Cross in New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy. While thankfully, Nantucket has not seen any recent disasters of Sandy’s magnitude, Jeanne has staffed shelters at the high school for many lesser storms. She is a member of MA Responds – MA Responds is administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health and is a partnership that integrates local, regional, and statewide volunteer resources to identify, credential, train, and mobilize volunteers during a health-related emergency or event. Jeanne is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Psychiatric Nurse Association, American Nurse Association, Sigma Theta Tau member – Alpha Chi Chapter, and is on the Nantucket Mental Health Task Force.
Most recently Jeanne returned to school at Boston College, where she earned a Masters in Science degree in nursing and became a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Jeanne currently is on faculty at Boston College, teaching in the Masters of Science in nursing program. Concurrently, Jeanne works at the Veterans Administration, providing holistic outpatient psychiatric care to service men and women.
When not working, Jeanne enjoys walking her Golden Retriever, Gracie, kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, gardening, traveling and just enjoying Island life with friends and family. She is a member of the Nantucket Anglers Club.
Listening to her Grandfather’s accounts of his service during WWI,is where Jeanne’s knowledge of servicemen began. This was followed by her Father’s descriptions of his WWII enlistments he had outlined in his hand-written journal,detailing each mission he flew as radioman in his bomber. Not all the missions were successful, not all of the men returned, none of the memories ever faded.
Jeanne has been an active volunteer at many of the Holiday for Heroes events over the last few years and she is excited to continue to learn from the Heroes and their families, hopeful that in being an active member of the Board of Directors she can help make their world a better place.
- Magdalena Padzik
Magdalena Padzik was born in Warsaw, Poland and moved to the US as a child with her Parents and younger sister to live the “American Dream.” Growing up in the Boston area she moved to Nantucket in 2001 and became a year round Nantucket Resident. Currently AVP/Branch Manager at Cape Cod Five, Magdalena previously held various positions at Nantucket Bank. She graduated from Babson School for Financial Studies in 2010. Magdalena was nominated as one of Nantucket’s Top 40 under 40 in March 2012. Mother to a very active little boy, Jacob, she spends her time at Little League and various island events supporting the community. Magdalena serves on the Board of The Community Foundation for Nantucket, helps produce Nantucket’s annual motorcycle rally, “Harpoon Run” in support of various Nantucket non-profits and is now a proud board member of Holidays for Heroes.
- Andrea Planzer
Andrea began her love affair with Nantucket when she visited the Island to see a friend in 1994. She continued to travel to the Island through the years, often flying her own aircraft. Andrea became a summer resident in 2005 and a year round resident in 2012.
Andrea served as an aviation attorney for the Federal Aviation Administration 21 years before leaving government service to raise her twin boys Preston and Bobby. Nantucket seemed to provide the perfect environment in which to raise the boys and that was a driving reason for becoming a full time resident, a move that has proven to be everything she hoped it would be for them. Andrea’s father, grandfather and three uncles all served during WWII. Bobby is named after her uncle Robert McCart Hackney who served in the Army Air corps’ famous “Doolittle Raiders”; Preston is named after her father, Preston Warren Nash, who served as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific theater.
She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from The University of Texas Austin and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University. Andrea learned to fly in West Texas at Avenger Field, home of the Woman’s Air Service Pilots of WWII fame. Andrea has owned aircraft for 25 years.
Andrea serves on the Nantucket Airport Commission and the Board of the Friends of Nantucket Public Schools; she is active in many island charities.
- Neil Planzer
Neil Planzer is the vice president of Airspace Solutions for Boeing Commercial Aviation. Before joining The Boeing Company in April 2003, Neil worked in the Pentagon for the U.S. Department of Defense, where he had served since 1998 as executive director of the DoD Policy Board on Federal Aviation and as associate director, Civil Aviation, U.S. Air Force. Before joining the Defense Department, he spent more than 25 years with the Federal Aviation Administration. Neil served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 through 1972. Neil has been in love with aviation for his entire adult life. Neil and his wife Andrea own and operate an airplane based at Nantucket Memorial Airport.
Throughout his career, he has worked with regulatory agencies and served as advisor to international groups and individuals on all aspects of aviation. In 2010, the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) awarded Planzer the 2010 Glen A. Gilbert Memorial Award. This award, the organization’s highest honor, recognizes the outstanding, long-term achievement of an individual in the field of aviation, The Glen A. Gilbert Trophy resides in a place of honor in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum.
Neil is a member of the CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organization) Executive Committee, ATCA Board of Directors and the European Institute’s Board of Directors. Planzer has also served on the FAA Management Advisory Committee as well as the Transportation Security Administration Security Advisory Committee.
- Patrick Topham
A Nantucket native, Patrick is the father of 3 (Jamie, Bryna, and Leland) and one of 7 children whose roots on Nantucket go back 5 generations. Topham is a dedicated family man having raised his 3 children on the island, teaching them all the beauty and splendor that is Nantucket. He has coached all of his children in baseball, basketball, football or hockey. Patrick is an avid outdoorsman with a love for fishing and bow hunting, and in recent years Topham competes in numerous annual triathlons.
After graduating from Nantucket High School in 1987, Topham enlisted as an Infantryman in the United States Marine Corps. Upon completing infantry school Patrick was stationed at Bangor Naval Submarine Base in Silverdale, WA. During his time at Bangor NSB Topham was part of an elite anti-terrorism assault team; was meritoriously promoted to rank of Corporal (E-4); was the 1989 Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Year; and was the first Marine to receive perfect Proficiency and Conduct marks at Marine Corps Security Force (MCSF) Bangor.
In December 1989 Topham was transferred to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines (1/6 Hard) at Camp Geiger in Jacksonville, NC, where he was a Fire Team leader with 3rd Platoon. Because of his nautical background, Topham was one of the leaders in developing the Marine Corps’ “brown water ops” – a tactic the Marines had seldom used since Vietnam. However, because of their fighting reputation 1/6 was rapidly deployed to Saudi Arabia in August 1990, and was one of the first Marine Corps units in country. Topham served in both Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, and he and his fire team gained notoriety as one of the best night navigation teams in the battalion. This led them to be on point for several night time operations, often at the tip of the spear for the entire battalion. Upon returning home, Topham became an air traffic controller at Nantucket Memorial Airport. In 2003 Topham became the Air Traffic Manager and continues to hold that position today.
Topham has served on several Island committees and boards including the John G. Topham Jr. Spirit Fund – a subset of the Nantucket AIDS Network, Nantucket Triathlon Club, Nantucket Roller Hockey, and is now proud board member of Holidays for Heroes.