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To educate and preserve our local heritage for the present and future generations to enjoy.
By exploring our past, we will add to our community’s understanding of its rich heritage with beautiful
​visual reminders of Hillsdale’s roots.


The Governing Board of The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan consists of the following:


Heather Tritchka, Executive board Member, Sculptor/Founding Member (b. 1970). Heather Tritchka was born in Santa Maria, California, raised in southern California, and then drawn to Michigan by Hillsdale College. Tritchka graduated from Hillsdale College in ’98 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry but did not graduate from the liberal arts college without first taking an art class.  Tritchka studied her new-found talent with Prof. Frudakis for a time, proceeding with the creation of a full-sized figure for friends of the College and later the Winston Churchill statue located in the Grewcock Student Center at Hillsdale College.  After a few years off to complete a master’s degree in Philosophy with a focus on Christian apologetics from Biola University, CA, Tritchka once again took up her sculpting tools.  This time she focused on the rich history of Hillsdale County seeking to bring the legend of Winona, daughter of Chief Baw Beese, to life.  The Heritage Association was formed, and the work was created and completed.  Black bears are now complete.  A momentum of unity and pride in Hillsdale County has been created through the arts, and it is a blessing far beyond anything that Tritchka had ever envisioned.  There is a spirit of generosity and goodness in the people of Hillsdale County that keeps Tritchka and her family here and proud to call Hillsdale home.

These commissioned works include:

  • 1998 Ludwig von Mises bust for Hillsdale College Library (senior class commission)

  • 1999 Lifesize woman with basket and fawn (Hillsdale College donor commission)

  • 1999 18-inch angel, on permanent display at Hillsdale College Sage Center for the Arts

  • 2001 Winston Churchill, commissioned by Hillsdale College, 7 feet tall with desk and books (15 of the 18-inch Churchill statues have been purchased); on permanent display in the Hillsdale College Student Center

  • 2003 commissioned to design and carve a wooden coat of arms for Will Carleton Academy, Hillsdale, MI

  • 2016 Winona, Daughter of Chief Baw Beese of the Potawatomis, commissioned by The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan

  • 2018 Mama Black Bear and Cubs, commissioned by The Heritage Association of Hillsdale, Michigan


Connie Sexton, Executive Board Director/Founding Member, (b. 1954) Connie wrote The Heritage Association’s Mission Statement and firmly believes in preserving local heritage and educating the community of its rich history. She is a retired Chrysler-Jeep Training and Education Coordinator for Skilled Trades and her involvement with several local organizations and being an active community volunteer provides deep experience in organization, fundraising, bookkeeping, leadership. She is a member, past (2013) and current president of The Hillsdale Woman’s Club, a member, and past president of The Hillsdale Garden Club, as well as a member and past President (2022-2023) of the Hillsdale Rotary. In addition, she was an active member of the Hillsdale Ladies Beautification League (now disbanded due to IRS regulations that limited it to 5 years of existence), which brought to life three wonderful murals in Hillsdale. She is a past board member of Hospice of Hillsdale County, Friends of the Dawn Theater of Hillsdale County MI., Domestic Harmony, Michigan Garden Clubs, Inc., and is currently a member of the Hillsdale Historical Society and Woman’s Life Hillsdale Chapter #741. In July 2023 Connie received from the Daughters of the American Revolutionary (DAR) a certificate of award for “Excellence in Community Service”. She oversees and directs all aspects of current projects including grant writing, fundraising, and event planning. She creates project literature for publicity and fundraising, presents projects to community groups, collects and documents donations and money spent, and maintains correspondence such as sponsorship letters, thank you notes and acknowledgements

Heather and Connie are on the executive board but they wouldn't be able to do what they do if it weren't for help from the other amazing men and women who make up the committee!


Dedra McDonald- Birzer Ph.D. Executive Board member, Editor, Advisor/Founding Member (b. 1969) 

Dedra is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College, where she has taught since 2000. She holds a doctorate in the Comparative History of Women and Gender and in the History of the American West from The University of New Mexico (2000) and a Master of Arts in the History of Women in America from The University of Wisconsin-Madison (1993). She was graduated from Texas Lutheran University summa cum laude in 1991, with a double major in History and Spanish. She is the author of numerous articles, chapters in anthologies, and book reviews, as well as the forthcoming book, Something No Other Woman Has Been: Public Intellectual Women in Twentieth-Century America (ISI Books). She teaches courses in the History of the American West, Colonial Latin American History; Modern Latin American History; the History of American Families; the Life of the Mind (research methods for Honors students); Logic and Rhetoric; and the Literary Genius of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Dedra lives in Hillsdale, Mi and is a professor at Hillsdale College. She edits all written material for The Heritage Association and advises on all projects the History of the American West, Colonial Latin American History; Modern Latin American History; the History of American Families; the Life of the Mind (research methods for Honors students); Logic and Rhetoric; and the Literary Genius of Laura Ingalls Wilder.


Brooke Amstutz - Website Coordinator

Brooke is the daughter of Connie Sexton, she lives in Toledo, Ohio with her husband and two sons. She grew up camping in Hillsdale on Boot Lake and has always considered Hillsdale her second home. She often supports The Heritage Association by donating her time to help with fundraising and community events, as well as proofreading and website updates. Brooke has a Bachelor degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toledo.


Kathy Norton - Co-Secretary

Kathy moved to the Hillsdale/Jonesville Community in 2015. She is an avid supporter of the arts. Kathy is passionate about and believes in building a sense of hometown community through supporting homegrown talent. 


Kay Castellese - Co-Secretary

Kay moved to Hillsdale with her husband John in 2016 to buy their retirement home and to enjoy lake life. Kay has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University. She is retired after working 30 years in the steel industry as a department manager.  Kay is a former member of AWMI (Association of Women in the Metals Industry) and is a current member of the Hillsdale Women’s Club. Since her husband is an Artist, Kay has special interest in supporting the Arts of Hillsdale County as well as volunteering her time to preserve the local heritage of the Hillsdale community.


Karen Mark- Grant Writer

Karen is a native of northeastern Pennsylvania and migrated to Michigan via Philadelphia in 2019. While working in the corporate world in Philadelphia, the urge to nurture her creative side started to grow.  Having no formal art school training, she took advantage of the many community art schools in the Philadelphia region and studied with artists she admired throughout the country and abroad. After retiring from her position as a senior vice president in a national title insurance agency, she worked on developing and evolving as an artist. Many subjects appeal to her, but favorites include the figure, portraiture, and architectural renderings.  Most current work is in watercolor, gouache, and acrylic; however, other media are often incorporated in her work. Her style varies according to the subject matter, but primarily she is influenced by the Impressionists. While in Philadelphia, Karen became a juried member of The Plastic Club and the Philadelphia Sketch Club, two of the oldest artists’ clubs in the country. Group shows include “Alice and Us” at The Plastic Club in 2015 and a show at Watermark in Philadelphia.  She has also exhibited at The Plastic Club, The Philadelphia Sketch Club, Main Line Art Center in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania and Beauty Art Gallery in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.  Karen received First Prize Award at the September 2016 “Metamorphosis Show” at The Plastic Club and Honorable Mention at Main Line Art Center in 2018. Her work is included in the Temple University School of Pharmacy Art Gallery and in private collections. She currently resides in Hillsdale, MI.


Daniel Bisher - Associate Member, Historian/Advisor

Dan Bisher is a published author, writer, journalist and local historian.  A native of Hillsdale County and graduate of Hillsdale High School, he is a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran having served as a Combat Correspondent. After attending California State University at Fullerton and working in southern California for two and one/half decades, Dan returned to his hometown of Hillsdale and was employed by Hillsdale College in Media Relations as a writer.  Later, he became the managing editor of the Hillsdale Daily News.  For several years, Dan narrated a historical program titled Tales of the Old Sauk Trail on Hillsdale’s WCSR radio station, where he also serves as a color commentator for high school and college football and basketball games. Dan’s recently published book is titled, “Faded Memories: Examination & Profiles of Hillsdale County’s Pioneer Period.

Sergeant Bisher served as a Marine Corps combat correspondent during the Viet Nam War.  He was widely published in military publications such as Stars & Stripes, and he received the Purple Heart for combat wounds.  He was the 17th individual inducted into the Hillsdale County Veteran's Hall of Fame, the first U.S. Marine to be inducted, and the fourth Vietnam War inductee.  Dan currently serves as the president of the Hillsdale County Veterans Hall of Fame, and as a member on the board of directors of the Hillsdale County Veterans Affairs.  He is also a member of the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association.

Dan resides on his family’s Michigan Centennial Farm in Woodbridge Township with his wife, Noel.

Ginger Novak - Membership Chair

Ginger is new to Hillsdale, having made her ABSOLUTELY LAST long-distance move to live near son John and his family in 2019.

She and her husband John have been married 41 years and are members of Holy Trinity Anglican Parish. Ginger is a member of the military mother organization, Blue Star Mothers of America, and currently serves as the Mentor Chair for the Department of Michigan for that organization. 

Ginger also serves as the Secretary of Hillsdale County Republican Women.

Having loved Hillsdale since the first time she visited, she loves having the opportunity to support projects that make Hillsdale a beautiful place to call home.

Sarah Gray.jpg

Sarah Gray - Youth Advisor

Sarah moved with her family to Jonesville in 2013. She has been married for almost 20 years and has three children. Sarah a board member for Artworks, Theatre for Youth, and Jonesville Band Boosters. She is also the advisor for The Heritage Association's Youth Advisory Council and involved in The Sauk Theater in a variety of ways. She is currently the Office Manager for St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Concord. 


“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

- Mother Teresa


"Had the pleasure of attending the unveiling of Winona today...she is stunning!"

- Amber Yoder

"It was a very nice open house! Congratulations to The Heritage Association on your new studio space!"

- Melissa McCance

"The first time I met Connie, I was blown away by her enthusiasm and love for the community!"

- Amanda Honeywell

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