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Onondaga Historical Association's new executive director ready to chart path into the future

oha lisa romano moore.jpg
Scott Willis
OHA Executive Director Lisa Romano Moore stands in the book section of the gift shop Jan. 2023. A quick glance at the shelves offers a peek into the area's rich history, with books about the Onondaga Nation, Erie Canal, Frederick Douglass, and Syracuse native Rod Serling, who created the Twilight Zone,

The first month of 2023 is starting to wind down, and that means nearly one month on the job for the new executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association. 

Lisa Romano Moore isn’t new to the OHA..she was in the development office for three years, and worked closely with former long-time director Gregg Tripoli before he retired in December. She previously served in development roles at several other not-for-profits. Romano Moore acknowledges the immense responsibility of taking the helm of an organization that’s been chronicling the area’s history since the civil war.

"When it's your turn to carry the ball, so to speak, you want to do it carefully and respectfully," Romano Moore said. "You want to honor the people who came before you in leadership positions. You want to honor the history of the community, but also recognize that that history is still being made today. There's a role for us in contemporary times to support that."

Romano Moore says that history ranges from the clean-up of Onondaga Lake and the long term implications of COVID-19 to the implications of the I-81 replacement and the future of the Columbus monument. And that’s just the beginning.

"Industrial resources, the re-emergence of manufacturing," Romano Moore said. "Micron's arrival and what that means for this community, virtually from every aspect, from infrastructure to employment to population growth."

Of course, she says history means different things to different people, and the OHA tries to meet the variety of needs. Romano Moore says, for example, there’s been more interest in people wanting to preserve and tell their own family’s history beyond the boxes in an attic or basement. Plus, she says, the area’s older companies and newer businesses alike are realizing the value of history and the area’s industrial past.

"You're seeing it in the investment downtown, where companies are coming back into the city and utilizing spaces that have long since been vacant, but are having this revival," Romano Moore said. "Harvey's Garden just opened, and they utilized our history. It never seems to completely disappear. There's always someone out there interested in us."

She says that presents an opportunity to sustain and grow the oldest cultural organization in Onondaga County.

More information about the OHA, its resources, exhibits, and programs can be found here.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at