January 2, 2024

9 Preservationists Share Their Resolutions for 2024

As the world transitions from one year to the next, we make resolutions that are either specific and attainable, or broad and aspirational—almost always looking for a way to change the world (even if it's just local) for the better. For preservationists it is a moment to consider our current goals, re-center our intentions, and to see how we can push the movement forward.

We asked nine preservationists about their preservation resolutions for 2024. From the personal to the professional, they acknowledge the need to build stronger partnerships, challenge assumptions, and to continue to fill gaps in the narrative.

An image of a woman holding a document with the state capital building of Wyoming behind her.
Megan Stanfill

Megan Stanfill
Executive Director of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming

Megan Mepham Stanfill is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Historic Wyoming, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation. In her free time, she runs a small fabrication and finishing business in Laramie with her husband. Stanfill has a lifelong passion for experiencing historic places, uncovering the stories they hold onto, and recognizing the role they play in each community's identity.

“My preservation resolution for 2024 is to strengthen the local relationship with preservation. Wyoming is made up of predominately rural communities, which presents challenges for in person collaboration and gathering, where the most crucial conversations happen. By showing up for our local champions we can work together to correct many misconceptions surrounding preservation. This year, I’m planning to increase my presence across the state to facilitate conversations, highlight successes, and showcase the potential for our historic resources.”

View of a woman in a light blue shirt standing against the backdrop of a Chinatown.
Di Gao

Di Gao
Senior Director of Research & Development, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Di Gao leads the Preserving America’s Chinatowns initiative at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a program dedicated to supporting Chinatowns and other ethnic enclaves across the United States by mobilizing preservation action through convenings, research, grantmaking, and advocacy. With close ties to Chinatowns in Seattle and Manhattan, Gao is passionate about protecting Chinatowns for future generations. Gao serves as the senior director of research & development, where she combines experience in real estate, economic development, and historic preservation to advise on and manage various projects and strategic initiatives.

"My preservation resolution is to build a network and team of collaborators, with all different skill sets, to collectively tackle this question of how historic preservation can be a stronger ally to living working ethnic enclaves like America’s Chinatowns and other communities of color. I really want to seek out like-minded people and join forces with them to inspire the public through cultural preservation, because I believe that we can’t tell the full American story without including the stories of places like America’s Chinatowns and other places where Asian American life is celebrated. I hope that through this project we can continue to push the boundaries of the historic preservation field to become more inclusive and collaborative.”

Headshot of a woman in black with a hat as she climbs up a ladder.
Kira Clingen

Kira Clingen
Daniel Urban Kiley Fellow and Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Harvard University

Kira Clingen is the Daniel Urban Kiley Fellow and Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a climate design researcher whose research focuses on place-based scenario planning and visualizing climate futures through speculative fiction. Through this work, she helps communities identify the places most important to them and think through adaptation solutions to preserve their relationships to place. Clingen is also a Future Leader Climate Fellow at the Aspen Institute

“My preservation resolution is to advocate for designers and preservationists to adapt to climate change. Preservation that centers communities and relationships—not just objects—can be part of a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, rising coastlines and historically exclusionary practices. Safeguarding buildings from climate impacts like flooding and burning just isn't enough if those same impacts will happen again and again. Instead we can shift to a preservation paradigm that values people's relationships to places and the communities they build around them. That means committing to climate adaptation in 2024."

A man in a yellow shirt standing against a floral background filled with yellow flowers.
Huy Pham

Huy Pham
Executive Director for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation

Huy Pham is the recently-minted executive director for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation (APIAHiP). Established in 2007, APIAHiP emerged in response to the noticeable lack of representation of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in state and national historic preservation forums. Pham brings his insight collaborating with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, community members and groups, developers, stakeholders, and policymakers to apply a progressive preservation ethic to preservation projects and campaigns.

He is excited to enter, not only into the new year, but also into a new era for the organization: seeing what new heights APIAHiP can reach in its mission of protecting historic places and cultural resources significant to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, now with a growing team of staff members.

“My name is Huy Pham, and I am the Executive Director for Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, or APIAHiP. My preservation resolution this year is to foster a deeper connection between our most underrepresented communities within the Asian and Pacific Islander American diaspora. While we have plenty of work ahead even in preserving our relatively recognized sites significant to Native Hawaiians, or Chinese and Japanese Americans—we want to be intentional and proactive in the preservation of sites that tell the story of Indian, Pakistani, and South Asian Americans; or Filipino, Vietnamese, and South East Asian Americans including Hmong, Lao, and Cambodian communities; or Korean or Taiwanese Americans; and Pacific Islanders including Chamorro, Guamanian, Samoan communities and so on. In short, my ambitious resolution is to meaningfully live up to APIAHiP’s namesake."

Headshot of a woman against a red background.
Roxana Latifi-Santos

Roxanna Latifi-Santos
Independent Researcher

Roxanna Latifi-Santos is an independent researcher who attended PastForward 2023 as a Diversity Scholar. A former journalist turned educator, she now specializes in historic preservation activism for marginalized groups and their histories. She is currently researching projects highlighting Mexican American activists in Parker County and the Middle Eastern diaspora across the globe.

Statement of Intention: “Growing up in a multiethnic household I celebrate New Years in two ways: One over Winter, as most Americans, where we see nature go into a slumber representing a time for rest; and then once again in the Spring in the spirit of Nowruz, or New Beginnings, as we see nature awaken from that slumber to start anew.

As we enter into a period of repose, my intention is to reflect on what I learned at PastForward. PastForward shined a light unto the validity of sharing our narrative of histories despite lack of a strong knowledge base or resources. As historic preservationists, we are also activists; We have an opportunity to create and carve out those spaces rather than submit to the narratives of others.

My Nowruz, or New Beginnings for 2024 in Historic Preservation, is to act upon the revelations of 2023 and contribute to the impact of oral histories of marginalized and forgotten spaces and people."

Resolution: “I am eternally optimistic every group has a story to tell, yet it is a perishable commodity. My preservation resolution for 2024 is to keep fanning the coals of activism and storytelling until it is set ablaze. To engage others in conversations and establish lifelong inspirations to preserve all histories of all people in our communities for generations to come.”

Listen to Roxanna Latifi-Santos in her own words:

National Trust for Historic Preservation · Roxana Latifi Santos, Independent Researcher
Headshot of Amy Glassman leaning against a tree in a black and white checkered shirt.
Amy Glassman

Amy Glassman
Senior Program Associate for the Future Leaders Climate Initiative at the Aspen Institute

Amy Glassman is a senior program associate for the Future Leaders Climate Initiative in the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program. In this role, she builds collaborative partnerships, engages stakeholders and participants, provides programmatic and communications support, and assists in planning the Future Leaders Climate Summit and Aspen Ideas: Climate. Through these efforts, she has collaborated with National Trust for Historic Preservation this past year to provide learning and presenting opportunities at the intersection of sustainability and historic preservation for the Future Leaders Climate Fellows. This work has inspired her to explore more preservation. opportunities through personal projects, focusing primarily on preserving stories.

“Looking ahead to the new year, I'm making it my resolution to take a deeper dive into the preservation space both professionally and in my personal life. My professional goal for the upcoming year is to ignite a spark in the Future Leaders Climate Fellows, encouraging them to explore careers and preservation work while weaving in the crucial threat of sustainability. For my personal efforts in this space, I've begun planning a new time capsule project that I'm resolving to kick off in 2024. For this project I will be gathering personal stories from the LGBTQIA+ community aiming to a immortalize their stories for generations to come. It's time we celebrate the unsung heroes, the everyday folks, and emphasize that every story, every lived experience, holds immeasurable value. Here's to a new year of preserving history. One unique story at a time.”

An image of a woman in a white shirt with a straw hat. The background is filled with greens and florals indicative of a garden.
Melinda Gustin

Melinda Gustin
Landscape Historian and Restorationist, Gustin and Associates, Inc.

Melinda Gustin is a landscape historian and restorationist in northern Nevada specializing in historic preservation and conservation projects. As Harrison Fellow at the University of Virginia, Gustin studied historic landscape design and documentation. Over the years she has held numerous leadership roles including as an advisor to the National Trust since 2006. Gustin and her husband Dan received the City of Reno’s inaugural Historic Preservation Advocacy Award as well as a Historic Preservation Award for their work on the grounds and residence of the Newlands Mansion, a National Historic Landmark.

“My preservation resolution is about placemaking. Not the placemaking of municipal sites or transportation corridors, but rather the smaller scale landscapes and gardens which help define neighborhoods and the places we love. Through the years I have had the pleasure of speaking about the history of landscapes, how they evolved over time, and they informed today's practices.

Now, many of us are opting for less intense planting schemes, which help reduce water consumption and maintenance requirements. There is also a growing interest in native plants which help reverse the declining numbers of pollinators and preserve and balance the natural environment. These steps make an important impact on the overall health and enjoyment of our neighborhoods and particularly historic sites. This is placemaking it its best. So let's each make it our resolution to preserve, restore and beautify the places that matter.”

A headshot of Cyrielle Noël  looking forward in a white shirt on a orange chair.
Cyrielle Noël

Cyrielle Noël
Spatial Planner and Founder of Eau daCité

Cyrielle Noël is a Canadian spatial planners with an expertise is in marine and coastal planning. She is from the river island of Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal) which has contributed to a research interest in island geographies and has informed her perspective as soulful thalassophile (someone who is connected to the ocean and the sea). She is an environmental interdisciplinarian and founded Eau daCité in 2019. Noël has worked with organizations such as Heritage Montréal and Heritage of London Trust and is currently promoting her conceptual innovation: blue public space, as a tool for preservation, conservation, and sustainable development. Noël is also a Future Leader Climate Fellow at the Aspen Institute

“I'm from the river island of Tiohtiá:ke which is colonially known as Montreal. But currently I am in Europe and will be ringing in the New Year in Athens. Greece. I'm a marine spatial planner and the founder of Eau daCité, which is an organization whose mission is to nurture the connection between humans and waterways, which we also call blue spaces. Understanding the relationship between humans and blue spaces, I believe there should be greater attention devoted to preservation efforts of water related material and immaterial heritage, especially within the context of island geographies and coastal cultures. Consequently, my resolution for 2024 is to continue to advocate for the preservation of water and water related heritage.”

A view of a man taking a selfie with the Grand Canal in Italy behind him.
Ross Bradford

Ross Bradford
Deputy General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Ross Bradford is the deputy general counsel for the National Trust where for over 19 years he has provided legal counsel to the organization. His work at the National Trust focuses on real estate transactions and land use issues. He also provides strategic guidance and support for advocacy matters related to the National Trust’s collection of Historic Sites and broader programmatic work.

“My preservation resolution for the upcoming year is to visit more historic sites across the country that embody the full American story from the contributions of women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA community.”

While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.

Announcing the 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List