Saturday, July 20, 2024

CEO of Preservation Virginia Announces Retirement

Elizabeth S. Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia. (Preservation Virginia)

RICHMOND— Elizabeth S. Kostelny has announced her plans to leave her position as CEO of Preservation Virginia in the fall of 2024.

The organization credits her stewardship for Preservation Virginia’s transformation into a statewide leader in historic preservation, supporting historic places that share all facets of Virginia’s complex history.

“Elizabeth’s thoughtful and effective leadership have left an indelible mark on this 135 year-old organization,” said Ronald L. Hurst, chair of Preservation Virginia’s board of trustees. “Through her dedication and perseverance, Preservation Virginia is widely recognized as a committed advocate for solutions that preserve historic places and ensure their relevance and viability in today’s communities.”

Preservation Virginia said Kostelny began her career with the organization as curator of collections in 1990. She was appointed CEO in 2001 in advance of Virginia’s commemoration of 2007 and the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. She also led the campaign to fund and construct new facilities to share the ongoing research of the organization’s Jamestown Rediscovery program.

It added she supported preservation projects and community engagement work at the organization’s five additional historic sites: Bacon’s Castle, the John Marshall House, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown and Smith’s Fort.

During her tenure, the organization merged with Preservation Alliance of Virginia to strengthen its statewide historic preservation advocacy and public policy voice. In the last decade, Preservation Virginia’s work has reflected a full telling of history through engagement with Virginia Tribal Nations and a focus on sites of African American
history, it said.

“It has been an honor and privilege to work with talented colleagues, visionary trustees, supportive donors and valued partners and allies over the years,” said Kostelny. “Because of the relationships we forged together, we were able to save endangered historic places, build capacity in local groups and bring awareness to the economic and educational value of historic places.”

“Historic preservation and development are not mutually exclusive. Our advocacy has time and again demonstrated that there are thoughtful solutions that respect historic places and accommodate present and future needs,” Kostelny continued. “I am exceedingly proud of all of those accomplishments.”

Preservation Virginia said that under her leadership, the organization worked with partners, allies and local organizations to support coalitions to advocate for the protection of Pine Grove Rosenwald School, Shockoe Bottom Memorial Park, Rassawek, Wilderness Battlefield and many more.

“The news has reached us that Elizabeth Kostelny has decided to leave her position at Preservation Virginia. As all her colleagues know, Elizabeth is a true leader and a great preservationist who will be sorely missed by her friends across the national historic preservation movement,” said Rob Nieweg, senior vice president for preservation services & outreach at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Year after year, the National Trust has partnered with Preservation Virginia — as
have so many other preservation groups — to help protect and preserve important historic places in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he added. “We have done so again and again because Preservation Virginia itself is a pioneer and innovator in the preservation field and because its esteemed President and CEO, Elizabeth Kostelny, is a highly effective, fair-minded and strategic historic preservation leader. Simply put, there is no better executive in the ‘world’ of nonprofit historic preservation organizations.”

Preservation Virginia said Kostelny gave notice of her plans in December 2023, and it is in the process of conducting a national search for its next CEO. In the meantime, Kostelny will continue to guide the organization’s efforts.

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