The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Stephanie Meeks, a nonprofit executive with experience in fundraising and environmental conservation, as its next president. In July, Meeks will take the reins from Richard Moe, who led the Washington, D.C.-based organization for 17 years before retiring earlier this month.
Meeks, 45, most recently served as president and CEO of Counterpart International, a humanitarian and economic development organization that works in 25 countries. Before that, she worked for 18 years at the Nature Conservancy, where she led capital campaigns, one of them raising $1.6 billion. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and an M.B.A. from George Washington University.
On Tuesday, Meeks told ARCHITECT, “The thread that leads from one of my [career] experiences to the next ... is really sustainability. In the case of the Nature Conservancy, it was [protecting] properties of natural value; the trust represents cultural and historical value. The challenge is, how do we do that and at the same time deal with economic demands and a growing population?”
Meeks cited the National Trust’s Main Street program, which seeks economic revitalization in historic downtown districts nationwide, as a program that “shows that preservation is for everyone. We believe that the trust and the movement as a whole have a much broader role to play in society.”
Architectural historian Richard Longstreth, who directs the graduate program in historic preservation at George Washington University, called Meeks’ appointment “a very good move.” “In the past, there’s been a disconnect between the historic preservation and the conservation communities. ... The trust now has a more integral approach.”
Founded in 1949, the National Trust is a private nonprofit organization with 270,000 members. Recent initiatives include post-Katrina community assistance in New Orleans, the acquisition of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, and the “This Place Matters” social media campaign.