TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, designed by Eero Saarinen

photo by: Eric Saarinen, ASC / Peter Rosen Productions

Preservation Magazine, Spring 2023

Editor's Note: Leading With Integrity

As Paul Edmondson, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s president and CEO, let you know in his Winter 2023 issue President’s Note, he is moving on to explore the next chapter of his life and career. To celebrate the lasting impact Paul has made on the National Trust and in the field of historic preservation, we asked people who have worked closely with him throughout the years to offer up a few words of appreciation. Here is what they said:

“TWA Terminal [pictured above], Merritt Parkway, Governors Island in New York Harbor, and Ground Zero are among the many places Paul and the extraordinary legal team he built at the National Trust helped to save and protect. Paul is a steady hand on the tiller, a wise counselor and partner in preservation strategy, and generous when he can be and tough when he has to be. All of us at the National Trust have been so fortunate to have Paul's leadership, partnership, and friendship over the decades.”
Wendy Nicholas, former Northeast regional director, National Trust

“Paul and I were both members of an informal group of general counsels of large NGOs, where his legal expertise and integrity made him a star. I know the National Trust values his decades of wise counsel, but don’t overlook all he’s given to the rest of us in the nonprofit world.”
Philip Tabas, vice president, The Nature Conservancy

“Few people can claim such a long and consistently positive impact on the National Trust and the national historic preservation movement as Paul. Among his legacies are the stellar legal team he built at the Trust and his wise and steady hand as President and CEO at a time of dramatic change in the culture of our nation and within the preservation movement itself.”
Marsh Davis, president and CEO, Indiana Landmarks

“Over the decades—as an advisor, trustee, and board chair—I’ve observed Paul’s robust intelligence and fierce integrity to serve and preserve complex places and stories. Paul always leans into the breach to lead and benefit preservation in this country.”
Tim Whalen, John E. and Louise Bryson Director, Getty Conservation Institute

“When the full history of the National Trust is written, Paul Edmondson will be seen to have played an outsize role in nearly every phase of the organization’s life. During my 17-plus years with him at the Trust there was no one on whom I relied more often or more heavily, and not just where the law was concerned. He was a gifted practitioner whose passion for both preservation and the law characterized most everything he did, and he always did it superbly. He did not seek the presidency, but when he was asked to assume it, he didn’t hesitate to accept ... Over four years he steadied the ship, gave it new direction and impetus, and not only kept it afloat but saw that it moved ahead to meet new challenges. That was so typical of Paul. All of us who care about the National Trust owe Paul a huge debt of gratitude for his willingness to step up and do the job with skill, kindness and integrity. Thank you, Paul.”
Richard Moe, President Emeritus, National Trust

“I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul when he applied for a lawyer position at the Trust. I knew immediately that he possessed a unique combination of brilliance and humanity that would be a major asset to the organization.”
Susan Lutzker, partner, Lutzker & Lutzker LLP

“Paul’s mentor, David A. Doheny, was my Harvard Law School classmate ... Paul oversaw Elizabeth Merritt in developing the legal argument that stopped the Connecticut DOT from defacing the Merritt Parkway with a costly and unnecessary interchange. Paul’s long presence and many roles have been essential to the success of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
Peter Malkin, Chairman Emeritus, Empire State Realty Trust

“Paul Edmondson is a joy to work with—calm and deliberate but passionate about preserving the buildings and natural sites that are crucial to an understanding of our nation.”
Camille Strachan, lawyer

“Paul's service to the National Trust is unmatched, covering as it does fully half the life of the organization. He developed the most effective advocacy and intervention legal resource in the preservation field, and his leadership, first as general counsel and finally as president, was crucial.”
Bill Hart, National Trust Board Chair, 1999-2004

“Beyond his intellect, experience and demonstrated wisdom, I believe that two of the things that distinguished Paul have been his wry sense of humor and his artistic talent. These served him well in keeping him grounded, balanced and open to diverse perspectives—good traits for a leader.”
Greg Coble, former senior vice president of business and finance, National Trust

“Paul's innovative and steady leadership of not just the National Trust's but the country's preservation legal team for more than three decades engendered a quantum leap in the national field while continuously advancing the diverse needs of the myriad independent state and local organizations across the nation. He brought these thoughtful and reliable skills to proficiently lead the Trust and the field at a critical point in its history. He's always been there for all of us.”
Greg Paxton, lifelong leader in historic preservation

“Paul has been a steady hand throughout his tenure with NTHP, which is obviously easier to do in good times than in challenging or difficult ones. Thoughtful. Forthright. Considerate. Mender. Decider. The list could go on and on. I experienced great comfort after talking with Paul or just seeing him in the building.”
Scott Gerloff, former director, National Trust Tours

“Paul and I had a good working relationship for many years. Although the issues that we discussed were often sensitive and confidential ... Paul provided clear, professional, and wise advice in a very friendly and positive manner. When I retired from the Trust, he was one of the people whom I missed the most.”
Sam Kilpatrick, former controller, National Trust

“Having known Paul since the 1980s, one of my most treasured experiences was working with him to preserve Ernest Hemingway’s home of 22 years in Havana, Cuba. Against the odds of being able to travel there at the time, he was integral in the Trust’s efforts in gaining access and to succeed in saving that place. I will always be grateful and honored for Paul’s friendship and commitment to preserving our heritage.”
Mary Werner DeNadai, FAIA

And finally, three former National Trust staffers collaborated on their words of reflection resulting in this limerick: “In the '90s we worked Paul-adjacent / (law and policy being consigned to the basement) / His brain was enormous! / Like his generosity toward us! / In our hearts—and the Trust—there’s no replacement.”
Constance Beaumont, Bridget Hartman, and Helen Hooper

Dennis Hockman is editor in chief of Preservation magazine. He’s lived in historic apartments and houses all over the United States and knows that all old buildings have stories to tell if you care to find them.

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