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Home arrowNews arrowMarch 1, 2013


Lynne SebastianWASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary Ken Salazar today presented the Department of the Interior’s 2012 Historic Preservation Awards and administered the oath of office to new members of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) at the ACHP’s Winter Business Meeting in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building.

“Historic preservation not only protects America’s past, but also drives heritage tourism, can put people back to work and is a revenue generator for local economies,” Secretary Salazar said.” I am proud to present the Historic Preservation Awards to these extraordinary professionals for their ingenuity and dedication in preserving the story of America for future generations.”

ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA commended the Teresa Leger de FernandezSecretary’s record. “Secretary Salazar has been a strong advocate for historic preservation and improving public understanding of the many cultural currents that together create our national narrative. He has recognized and championed the importance of people directly experiencing the special places where our history happened,” he said. “It is an honor that he selected the ACHP business meeting as an appropriate venue to present the Secretary’s awards for 2012, and to participate in the installation of the council’s most recent Presidential appointees.”

The incoming members of the ACHP are:

Elizabeth Hughes, President, National Conference of Historic Preservation Officers, Deputy SHPO, Maryland.
Teresa Isabel Leger de Fernandez (Citizen Member), Santa Fe, NM
Lynne Sebastian, Ph.D. (Expert Member), Albuquerque, NM

The four honorees for the 2012 Secretary’s Award for Historic Preservation are:

Robin D. Hawks, Ph.D., Federal Preservation Officer, Bureau of Land Management
Dan Elswick, South Carolina Historic Preservation Office
Bill Helmer, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley, CA
Michelle L. Pierce, Certified Local Government (CLG), Lake City, CO (which is also a Preserve America Community)

New Members Background:

Elizabeth A. Hughes, newly installed president of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), by virtue of holding that office becomes an ex officio member of the ACHP. The president of NCSHPO is one of the 23 members of the ACHP by statute, hence she, like the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, does not take the federal oath of office but automatically becomes an ACHP member upon becoming president of NCSHPO. She has been on the NCSHPO board since 2004.

Hughes is Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for the state of Maryland and Deputy Director of the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). Prior to becoming the MHT’s deputy director in 2002, she administered the Maryland Heritage Preservation and Tourism Areas Program which was recognized with a Preserve America Presidential Award in 2006. She also supervised the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs and development and implementation of the MHT’s heritage planning and outreach programs. She has administrative experience with the MHT’s CLG program and Easement Committee; as well as experience with Main Street Maryland, Downtown Development Association, and the Maryland Heritage Alliance. Hughes is the author of Historic St. Michael’s: An Architectural History. She holds an M.A. in architectural history from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in American studies from Georgetown University. She was elected President of NCSHPO on February 27, 2013.

Teresa Isabel Leger de Fernandez is a partner at Nordhaus Law Firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she has worked since 1989. Leger also serves as General Counsel to several Indian tribes, including the Pueblos of Laguna, Santa Ana, and Santo Domingo. Previously, she clerked for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California from 1987 to 1989. She is a member of the Historic Marker Selection Committee of the New Mexico International Women’s Forum, is President of Homewise and a Commissioner of Las Acequias de Chupadero. Leger has served on the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, Vice Chair of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and was a White House Fellow in 1995/1996. She received a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. Her appointment to the ACHP was announced by President Obama on February 26, 2013.

Lynne Sebastian, Ph.D., is Director of Historic Preservation Programs at the SRI Foundation, a position she has held since 2001. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Sebastian was the State Historic Preservation Officer for New Mexico from 1997 to 1999, and she was the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer and the State Archaeologist from 1987 to 1997. She is the President of the Register of Professional Archaeologists and was the President of the Society for American Archaeology from 2003 to 2005. Sebastian received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. from the University of Utah, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. Her appointment to the ACHP was announced by President Obama on January 16, 2013.

Secretary of the Interior Historic Preservation Award Background:

The Secretary of the Interior Historic Preservation Award was created by Section 110(h) of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The Secretary’s award is distinguished from other historic award programs because it was: established as a Cabinet-level of recognition through a statutory mandate; focuses on accomplishments of individuals rather than programs or projects; and, recognizes multiple levels of government. Current employees of Federal Preservation Offices (FPO), State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO), and Certified Local Governments (CLG) are eligible. National Park Service employees are not eligible for the award, but other DOI bureau employees are eligible.

Robin D. Hawks, Ph.D., is the FPO for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency that manages more than 252 million acres of federal property. The BLM historic preservation program completed four major projects during 2012, including the revised Programmatic Agreement for Compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. During 2011, BLM’s historic preservation program was responsible for nearly 900,000 acres of new cultural resources inventory that identified more than 11,000 new archaeological sites. BLM has now inventoried more than 21 million acres and manages 16 National Historic Landmarks and five World Heritage Sites. Active in a variety of federal interagency groups, Hawks is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and a member of the Society for American Archaeology. She currently serves as a Special Assistant for Historic Preservation with the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Dan Elswick, of the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, has used his architectural expertise to significantly advance South Carolina’s ability to carry out the goals of the NHPA. He has reviewed thousands of preservation projects in the local, state, and federal tax credit programs, Section 106 and state-related review programs, and federal and state grants. He has contributed to the stewardship of many of the most significant historic properties in South Carolina. Elswick also been instrumental in the development and evolution of preservation policy and programs in South Carolina. During his tenure, the state created the local property tax special assessment program, the state income tax credit for rehabilitated historic properties, and the state owned or leased National Register historic properties law.

Bill Helmer, THPO, crafted and now implements the Big Pine Paiute Historical Preservation Ordinance, which recognizes that “Preserving and caring for historic resources will provide cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, spiritual and economic benefits for present and future generations.” The tribe’s vast ancestral territory requires continual work to coordinate with federal agencies and the SHPO to identify and protect resources which are of high importance to the tribe. On behalf of the tribe, he has advocated for protection and responsible management of important traditional sites, culturally significant landscapes, and traditional ecological knowledge. Helmer’s focused, persistent, and respectful communications with agency staff have created an environment for tribal leaders to meet with decision makers and engage in productive consultation.

Michelle Pierce, Lake City, Colorado CLG, has served Lake City’s 425 citizens for more than a quarter century. She has transcended politics and personality issues and cultivated a mature, award-winning CLG program. Pierce was fundamental in the certification of the Lake City government in 1986 and since that time she has successfully overseen a number of CLG grant funded projects that have helped the community identify and recognize its diverse heritage. She wrote and administered four Colorado State Historic Fund grants that provided support for survey, nomination, and rehabilitation projects. Collaborating with Hinsdale County and the local chamber of commerce, Pierce worked to promote heritage tourism and was instrumental in the designation of downtown Lake City as both a Preserve America Community and a Colorado Main Street. Colorado Preservation, Inc. awarded Lake City a 2012 State Honor Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Promotion.


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