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Warner Free Lecture candidate Thornton drawn to stories and storytellers

Alison Thornton (Photo by Lisa Aciukeiwcz)

Alison Thornton is running, uncontested, as a candidate for Warner Free Lecture trustee. Out of the six seats on the board, there are two open seats for this upcoming election; however Thornton is the only candidate running as of now. Thornton’s interest in running for this position revolves around the idea of “stories,” and sharing different people’s experiences through the variety of events that the board hosts. “I’ve always been interested in people’s stories,” she said in an interview with the Press, “and I thought it would be fun to be part of the process that brings them to town.”

What do you think you could bring to the table as a new trustee?

“I have a pretty diverse background in terms of things that I’ve done with my own life,” Thornton said, specifically mentioning her background in athletics. She explained that, as an athlete, she has met people who she believes would have interesting stories to share through the Warner Free Lecture series. “I do know some people back in that world that have a variety of stories they’ve shared either through filmmaking or through their own professional careers; and I thought some of them might be nice additions to some of the work that we put on,” Thornton said.

Is there anything you would like to see done differently? From what you know of the current trustees, what do you think is working and what would you like to change?

Thornton said that she has attended a few meetings in the past and that the group has a “pretty good dynamic,” highlighting specifically how current Chair Lisa Foley “is very good about seeking people’s opinions and running things very smoothly.” Thornton explained that she doesn’t believe too much needs to change on the board, saying that she thinks she would “just be learning” for now.

Have you attended any of the events in the past? If so, do you have a favorite?

Thornton said she has attended a few Warner Free Lecture events in the past, the most recent being the “Little Women” screening. “I did like the fact that, more than just the film, they were able to personalize it for the whole community and brought in a few other highlights to share,” she said. Thornton also added that she appreciates the fact that the Warner Free Lecture Trust will often connect with other local organizations. “They tie in with the Historical Society, they tie in with Fruitlands, and if there’s another organization that might be a good partner, they seek them out,” she said.

What programs, or type of programs, would you like to see presented in the future?

Thornton explained that she is interested in a program involving films and the process of filmmaking. “I have a friend who’s a documentary filmmaker, who makes a lot of pretty hard-hitting documentaries,” Thornton said, “and I thought whether or not we brought in the films, or just brought her in to talk about her experiences of what it’s like to make those stories, that was something that I thought would be really interesting.” She added that she appreciates how the trustees often reach out for community input. “I think that’s important, that anyone in town can contribute their thoughts and make some proposals,” she said.

Is there anything else you would like to add or elaborate on?

Thornton mentioned that she has worked on the PTO for curriculum enrichment in the past, helping to bring an artist-in-residence to Hildreth Elementary School one year. “That was a while ago,” she said, “but I enjoyed the process of putting it together.” As a candidate for the position, Thornton looks forward to being able to put together similar events for the town.

Moreover, Thornton said that she majored in anthropology with a focus on cultural anthropology in college and has a master’s degree in occupational therapy, and now works in mental health. She explained that this educational background and experience will help in her new position. Referring to her background in anthropology, Thornton said, “One thing I really liked about that was the stories you learn about other people and different places.” Thornton said she hopes to bring these sorts of stories to Harvard through the Warner Free Lecture events.

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