National Trust for Historic Preservation Names Carol Quillen as its 10th President and CEO
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nation’s preeminent preservation organization, announced Carol Quillen as its tenth President and CEO. Quillen will begin her tenure on January 16, 2024.
“Following an extensive national search, we are delighted to announce that Carol Quillen will serve as our new President and CEO,” said Betsy Cahill, Chair of the Search Committee. “Her record of transformational leadership in higher education, her ability to lead change with courage and sensitivity, and her deep appreciation for the importance of historic preservation in our democracy make her the ideal leader for the National Trust at this moment.”
Quillen served as the President of Davidson College from 2011 to 2022. During her tenure, she recruited a diverse leadership team, developed the vision for and led a $555 million campaign, and revised campus planning to align the college’s facilities and infrastructure with its educational aspirations. These changes included the construction of a new transdisciplinary Academic Center, a student resource center, and the creation of a Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She also expanded a public art program on campus, integrating contemporary art into the landscape and public areas.
“The work of the National Trust at this time in our nation’s history is especially important. Places everywhere connect us to the past, expand our moral imaginations, and help us build a more just and humane world,” said Quillen. “I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees and the staff to build a vision that will spark enthusiasm and attract broad support all across the country,” she added.
Quillen demonstrated her strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout her time at Davidson. She created a Commission on Race and Slavery to explore the college’s past and undertook actions to create a more just present and future. She was a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, which aims to expand the populations of low and moderate-income students at the nation’s top colleges and universities. She developed a diverse leadership team both in management and on the Board of Trustees.
“With the hiring of Carol Quillen, we begin a new era for the National Trust and for historic preservation in America,” said Martha Nelson, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “She brings an historian’s sensibility to present-day issues, and she has an impressive record of leading organizations through thoughtful transformation and growth in a collaborative process. The Board was unanimous and enthusiastic in its endorsement.”
Quillen is joining the organization at a pivotal time. The National Trust is preparing to celebrate its 75th Anniversary in late 2024 and 2025. The National Trust fulfills its mission to save America’s significant places through a broad and diverse range of initiatives and programs including legal advocacy, federal public policy, preservation assistance, grant-making, and support through community partners. The National Trust has a portfolio of 28 Historic Sites around the nation which welcome a million visitors annually offering a broad range of interpretation and public programming including an expansive approach to descendant engagement and innovative enterprise models.
In recent years, the National Trust has been a leader in diversifying and expanding the work and focus of historic preservation. Through its initiative called Telling the Full American History, the National Trust has created a series of programs focused on preserving previously underrepresented places and stories.
The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (created 2017) has attracted unprecedented financial support and national recognition and now stands as the largest fund protecting places of African American history in the nation. Newer initiatives include a focus on Saving America’s Chinatowns, an effort to preserve the cultural assets and business health of these important communities and business districts. For almost two decades, the National Trust has worked to save and protect Route 66, the iconic 2,000-mile highway route and respective communities. The effort called Preserve Route 66 recently was reinvigorated with a focus on the underrepresented stories and places through new grantmaking and advocacy.
The National Trust presents professional education and training through a wide range of offerings including webinars, an annual conference--PastForward, and a virtual symposium. The Preservation Leadership Forum offers members news and resources designed to elevate the field and foster networking.
Quillen serves on the boards of the National Humanities Center and Princeton University. Prior to her role at Davidson College, Quillen held faculty and administrative positions at Rice University. She received her Ph.D. in European history from Princeton University and Bachelor of Arts in U.S. history from the University of Chicago.