Preservation Magazine, Winter 2023

President's Note: With Thanks

Paul Edmondson, President & CEO

When I joined the National Trust’s staff as a young lawyer in the spring of 1987, I never imagined that I would dedicate the majority of my professional life to this organization and someday be asked to serve as its president. Since that first day, the National Trust has been a core part of my focus, passion, and vocation. The work, of course, has been inspiring. Yet it has become even more so because I have been surrounded by incredibly talented colleagues—people who are tenacious advocates, as well as creative problem solvers.

As rewarding as this work has been, after a 36-year career at the National Trust I decided last November that a change is in order—both for me and for the organization.

In 2019, when the National Trust’s board of trustees asked me to take on the role of president and CEO, I did so with several main goals. To strengthen our relationships across the preservation community—but also to redefine that community in the broadest possible way. To institutionalize the notion that telling the full American story must be a core element of all of the National Trust’s work. To increase our efforts to assert a strong national voice articulating the value of historic preservation. And to promote continued innovation and inclusive public engagement at our historic sites. Of course, the pandemic threw another goal in our direction: to maintain a stable operational base for the organization—and not simply to ride out the storm, but to ensure that we have a strong platform for future growth.

Despite the many challenges of the past several years, I am pleased to say that we have made very strong progress toward all of these goals, and that the organization is well positioned for future success. Yet there is a great deal more work to do, and that work will require growth to sustain current programs, create new initiatives, and expand our audiences. It will be a multi-year effort, requiring new strategies and new thinking. Given this backdrop, this seems to be the right time to make room for new leadership to take the organization to the next stage—toward what I am confident will be an exciting and successful future.

I am honored to have capped my three-decade career with the National Trust with an opportunity to lead the organization into a new era of work, marked by a better public understanding of the relevance and impact of preservation, and, most important, a fuller view of history. We have truly expanded the tent and now include many new voices, faces, and stories. For all this, I am deeply grateful to our exceptional staff and our dedicated volunteers, members, and supporters.

Paul Edmondson was the president & CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Now accepting nominations for the 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places! Letters of Intent are due September 29, 2023.

Learn More