As Deputy to the Executive Director, this full-time position would oversee public programming, community engagement, and preservation planning, ensuring increased commitment to - and impact on - African American cultural heritage & preservation. This new position is being created through funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's African American Cultural Action Fund and begins with a one-year posting. The candidate selected will be expected to contribute to fundraising and administrative efforts to help solidify the resources need to continue the position as a permanent, ongoing position in our office.
Background on Organization, Our New Position, and the Athens community:
For five decades, Historic Athens (501c3) has been a compact, grassroots-scale effort to preserve the community heritage of Athens, Georgia. However, like many non-profit organizations of our age and type, we all-to-often have focused on the preservation of neighborhoods and places associated with our narrow donor class. This has ensured limited growth of our donor base, a sometimes narrow impact for our mission, and a failure to equitably preserve local African American heritage. Over the last three years, that has changed. Dramatic changes in our personnel, priorities, approach, public initiatives, partnerships, and stated goals have led to growing trust in our commitment to the equitable preservation of places, especially from within the local African American community. Now, with the creation of this new position, we plan to establish a permanent, deputized, and succession plan-oriented role that can cement and accelerate our commitment to the preservation of African American places: the Director of Engagement and African American Heritage.
Meanwhile, Athens, Georgia is at a preservation crossroads: the community is facing perhaps our last opportunity to prevent the erasure of African American landmarks, neighborhoods, and cultural heritage. This new staff position is being created to help fundamentally change how our community operates, prioritizes, and preserves. Although Athens historically has hovered around a 40-60% African American population, disproportionately little effort has been expended to protect African American cultural heritage from the ravages of Jim Crow, urban renewal, redlining, and - most recently - encroaching and unrestricted commercial development. Additionally, as the poorest college town in the United States - and one where poverty and racial demographics are virtually one and the same - our African American communities are often marginalized and ignored as their landmarks are erased.
As part of our mission, we have increasingly focused on African American cultural heritage. Over the last few years, that commitment has produced genuine results: over $4 million in SPLOST funds for a project that helps to celebrate the history of local African American builders and master craftsmen, a new local historic district celebrating the history of our iconic African American "Hot Corner", a new annual Athens Places in Peril list that has predominantly emphasized African American cultural landmarks (including local Rosenwald schools, cultural districts, and cemeteries), improved service as the financial agent for Historic African American Brooklyn Cemetery, new interpretations on the history of enslaved persons at the Historic Athens Welcome Center, designing signature events that include an emphasis on African American cultural heritage, providing regular public programming on the history of African American cultural erasure in Athens, and partnering with the Clarke County School District to rescue a historic 150 year old African American campus, the West Broad Street school.
Now, we would like to solidify and expand that commitment to African American cultural heritage and preservation through this new position. As Deputy to the Executive Director, this position would oversee public programming, community engagement, and preservation planning, ensuring increased commitment to - and impact on - African Historic Athens 6 American cultural heritage & preservation. This position has been designed for a candidate with a background in preservation, operations, and grassroots organizing. Once installed, they would work closely with the Executive Director to examine, oversee, direct, and improve all areas of organizational strategy and policy.
The position has been expressly designed to ensure adequate agency, leverage, training, and support to enact significant changes for our organization and community at large. This position will help to fundamentally improve our approach, cultural competency, organizational values, and community priorities. Furthermore, great care would be exercised throughout the recruitment, hire, training, and establishment of this Director to ensure an anti-racist, intersectional, and future-oriented environment. After the initial two years, we would also anticipate the Director of Engagement & African American Heritage to serve as a sort of Executive Director Pro Tempore, trained and prepared to serve as an Executive Director in necessary situations.