Staff & Board
814 Oberlin Road
|Benjamin Briggs, President and CEO
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|Chrissy Pressley, Office Assistant
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|Annie Jernigan, Marketing Manager and Member Services
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|Dawn Williams, HR & Properties Director
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|Shannon L. Phillips, Director of Development
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|Mary Frances Wilson, Donor Engagement Manager
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Benjamin is a native of High Point, NC, and is descended from a family who crafted buggies, and later, wood furniture. Raised as a Quaker, he attended Westtown School near Philadelphia before returning south to attend NC State, where he earned a degree in Architecture and Sociology. After working briefly in construction, Benjamin purchased and restored a fire-damaged Queen Anne-style house in his hometown. This project led to his recognition by Preservation North Carolina (PNC) through a Gertrude Carraway Award of Merit in 1993, an honor that encouraged him to do more! He donated a preservation easement to PNC on the completed project, served on the city’s preservation commission, and joined a community group that successfully saved the city’s 1907 Southern Railway Depot.
His second project was a large Quaker farmhouse in High Point, recognized for its owner’s role in the Underground Railroad. As it neared completion, he was accepted to Boston University, where he served in an internship through US/ICOMOS with the Australian Heritage Commission in Canberra. He earned a master’s degree in historic preservation upon completing his thesis on the Quaker architecture of the Carolina Piedmont. In addition to embarking on the restoration of his family home – an unusual c.1845 house that also served as a dormitory, stagecoach stop, and general store – he joined the county preservation commission, wrote a column in the city newspaper on local architecture and history, and was hired to teach historic preservation at Randolph Community College.
He stepped down from his teaching position in 2003 to serve as executive director of Preservation Greensboro Incorporated, a city-based non-profit that provides strategy and support for preservation in North Carolina’s third-largest city. There, he jump-started the organization’s revolving fund, re-calibrated the narrative of the National Historic Landmark Blandwood Museum, streamlined the Architectural Salvage project, and developed new programs such as walking tours, the tour of historic homes and gardens, and contributed to important new research on women and Black citizens. He joined Preservation North Carolina in 2023.
In addition to architecture and history, Benjamin enjoys travel and photography. He has been to seven continents, 36 countries, and 48 states.
Maggie is the Regional Director for the Eastern Office and has been with Preservation North Carolina since 2016. Prior to that her background was in traditional real estate with a degree in Historic Preservation, among many other studies, though her childhood dream was to grow up to be a mermaid.
Born in Tampa, FL and raised spending much of her time with her grandparents in Brooksville, FL and her grandmother in Williamsport, PA, developed Maggie’s love of old buildings from a very young age. Family trips to Historic Sites furthered her love of history. In middle school her family moved to Greenville, NC, where she graduated from High School and began college.
Maggie has lived in Tarboro, North Carolina for the last decade and shares her home with her three spoiled cats, who really run the household. She is very active in the Tarboro community and sits on the Façade Grant Committee as a founding member, is currently chair of the Main Street Design committee and sits on the executive board, and is host mom to baseball players for the Tarboro River Bandits each year, spending most of her summers at the ballfield.
Maggie is known for her love of holidays and over the top decorating, especially at Christmas, and of sports, especially Carolina Panthers football. She loves to travel, and loves the beach and mountains equally, but is always excited to visit new places. Maggie also owns an AirBnB next door to her house which is an historic duplex and is under restoration. In what free time that leaves, she loves playing trivia with friends at the local brewery, going out to eat, and is an avid reader who is happiest curled up with a book and a glass of wine, and of course her cats!
Jack Thomson is a native of Western North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After college, Jack excelled as a third-generation home builder and real estate agent, eventually working as a project manager for Lee Morgan Inc., a historic restoration general contractor in Charlotte. His projects there included a log barn reconstruction for the Charlotte Museum of History, stabilization of structures at Historic Brattonsville, SC and work on several landmark properties in Charlotte and in Mecklenburg County. In 2004, Jack led the Historic Salisbury Foundation where he managed a robust historic properties redevelopment program and revolving fund, along with museum sites and advocacy campaigns for six years.
Jack was selected as the Executive Director of the Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County in 2010 and worked to expand the capacity of the organization in education and on-the-ground preservation advocacy. During this time, 14 properties were permanently protected by preservation easements and cash reserves for the non-profit grew from $55,000 to $850,000.
In December of 2019, Jack became the Executive Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission and led this public preservation program through a significant transition as a new County Department. During his three years there, 27 historic places were designated as local landmarks and nearly $1 million revolved through an endangered properties program.
As incoming Western Regional Director for Preservation NC, Jack will work to continue the legacy of success established over the past 18 years by his predecessor, Ted Alexander. Thomas Wolfe said “you can’t go home again,” but Jack is excited to begin a new chapter in western North Carolina, a place he has often called home.
Cathleen Turner is the Regional Director of Preservation North Carolina’s Piedmont Office based in Durham. She was born in New York and relocated to South Carolina at age 13. She speaks both languages fluently. Cathleen is a graduate of Emory University, with a Masters degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia.
While an undergraduate student, Cathleen worked as an intern in low-wealth historic neighborhoods in Atlanta, which sparked her passion for neighborhood revitalization and affordable housing. Following graduate school, she was a preservation planner in the northeast Georgia Mountains where she spent a few years driving around promoting the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes.
As Executive Director of the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, Cathleen focused on the preservation of Hillsborough’s historic, cultural, and natural environment with a focus on heritage tourism, the arts and downtown revitalization. Cathleen’s work with Preservation NC on neighborhood revitalization in East Durham and rural and urban preservation issues in the Piedmont region brings her full circle in her preservation work.
While not saving old buildings, Cathleen enjoys paddling, sailing, hiking and cooking strange recipes for family and friends. She shares an old house in Hillsborough with her husband, cats Otis and Casper, and a Staffie named Sugarfoot. Her two daughters live in Raleigh while attending NC State.
Annie wasn’t born in North Carolina, but she got here as soon as she could. When she relocated to Raleigh from the Louisiana Bayou at age 9, she quickly fell in love with the beauty and charm of this place, from the Outer Banks to the Great Smoky Mountains and all points in between.
Annie’s path to historic preservation was a winding one. While in school getting her Bachelor of Fine Arts, she fell in love with architectural photography, and specifically historic architecture. It was through this lens that she became familiar with Preservation North Carolina. Annie admires the architectural diversity preserved from this state’s rich history, and she believes that inside of every building there is a story that begs to be told.
After several years freelancing for Our State Magazine, Walter Magazine, and many local interior designers and architects, while also acting as a content curator at a large art firm, Annie decided to follow her heart and make the jump to a career in historic preservation. She joined Preservation North Carolina in early 2018 and now serves as Marketing Manager and Member Services. The highlight of her week every week is creating the #transformationtuesday social media posts.
When she’s not working you can catch her hiking, camping, and canoeing around the state with her husband and 7-year-old pit-mix, baking anything sourdough, or enjoying a beer at a local brewery with friends.
Born and bred in the small town of Hertford, Shannon grew up surrounded by the historic buildings of eastern North Carolina which are steeped in rich history. She joined Preservation North Carolina in the summer of 1998 while completing her degree in Business Administration from NC State University.
Through her nearly quarter-century with Preservation North Carolina, Shannon has had the opportunity to work with amazing people who share her passion for place. As Director of Development, she works closely with the development and communications team to ensure the organization’s success. She has executed numerous major fundraising campaigns to help the organization protect some of North Carolina’s most special historic buildings.
Shannon lives in Clayton with her husband, two sons, and black labs. She enjoys traveling, the beach, and baseball.
Chrissy was born in North Carolina and has primarily resided in Raleigh. She spent her youth either dancing in local performances or riding shotgun with her realtor Mom. The first two decades of her life included some of her most exciting memories of discovering decaying/abandoned dwellings and examining them as much as possible within the limits of the law!
Chrissy’s interest in both human and cultural history led her to pursue degrees in Anthropology and Dance at UNC-Greensboro. She became an administrative assistant as a more stable form of employment, which led to operating her family-owned home furnishings store in Raleigh for 16 years.
Chrissy joined the Preservation North Carolina staff in June of 2021 as a part-time office assistant. She is thrilled at the opportunity to contribute her administrative background and her enthusiasm to assist Preservation North Carolina in recognizing and protecting the historical places and spaces in her home state.
Outside of work, Chrissy enjoys two things the most: exploring creative endeavors with her mother and sister; and, enjoying time at home or out-and-about with her husband and 2 teenaged sons.
A northerner living in Rhode Island until 4th grade, Dawn lived in the central west coast of Florida until she graduated from college with a BA in Women’s Studies. She moved to North Carolina to be closer to her family and fell in love with its varied landscape and natural beauty. Always a lover of historic homes, her background in retail management led her to executive support roles and eventually landed her on the doorsteps of Preservation North Carolina in late 2004.
Starting as the Executive Operations Assistant, she quickly moved to a blended role as the Properties Coordinator and Office Manager. Obtaining her real estate license in 2015, she’s now the HR & Properties Director. She wears multiple hats at Preservation North Carolina and manages the overall Endangered Properties Program administration. Detail-oriented, amusing and assertive, she keeps the ball rolling on so many fronts we’ve lost track.
In her free time, Dawn enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, and dreaming of rehabilitating a historic home of her own someday.
A life-long North Carolinian, Mary Frances spent her childhood touring historic sites across the state with her parents. After graduating from Meredith College with a B.A. in public history, she moved to Atlanta and then to New York. It was the cast iron architecture of SoHo that confirmed her love of historic buildings and their connection to history.
Mary Frances moved back to Raleigh and joined the Preservation North Carolina team in 2008, starting as a volunteer! In 2012, she received her M.A. in history, with a concentration in historic preservation, from UNC-Greensboro.
As PNC’s Donor Engagement Manger, Mary Frances loves connecting with people and Preservation North Carolina’s membership. She lives in Raleigh with her husband, daughter, and Scottish Terrier, and still loves exploring all that our state has to offer.
Bellamy Mansion Museum
|Gareth Evans, Executive Director
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|Bob Lock, Site Manager
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|Jen Fenninger, Education & Engagement Director
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|Leslie Randle-Morton, Associate Director
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Gareth has been Executive Director of the Bellamy Mansion Museum of History and Design Arts for PNC since 2010. Prior to that he worked at Historic Wilmington Foundation for nine years, ending up as Associate Director. Before spending this startling amount of time hanging around old buildings, he finished an American History MA at UNC-Wilmington.
Gareth’s interest in history began while growing up in Wales. There are, for example, five major castles, a walled Roman town, and a UNESCO World Heritage site within a thirty-minute drive of his hometown of Pontypool. He went to Swansea University to get a double major BA in History and, after spending perhaps too much time hearing about the roguish monarchs and imperial conquests of Europe, American Studies. A highlight of this was a study abroad year which allowed for much US travel and an epic Greyhound trip, at very low speeds, around 28 states in 35 days.
Wanting to see more, Gareth came to North Carolina and, to his surprise, has lived in Wilmington for 25 years. He volunteers with Historic Wilmington, the local NPR-affiliate, the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, his kids’ schools, and the Associates Board of the NC Museum of History. He has two young daughters with his wife, Jessica, and the family likes kayaking, travel, playing with their dogs, and pretending to listen when Dad talks about history.
A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, Leslie spent many childhood summers vacationing at Wrightsville Beach with family and friends. After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Mississippi, Leslie was a middle school teacher in Pontotoc, Mississippi, for almost a decade. As a public-school educator, Leslie was voted Teacher of the Year in 2007 and proudly served as an instructor and curriculum coach with National Writing Project.
In 2011, when her husband’s job opportunities expanded to include North Carolina, memories of those idyllic summers at the beach pulled Leslie and her family to Wilmington. Leslie decided not to return to the classroom but instead pursued her lifelong dream of working at historic sites and museums. Leslie entered the public history program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she earned her master’s degree in History in 2016.
Since 2017, Leslie has been not only the museum’s operations manager but also the research historian for the site. In her tenure at the Bellamy Museum Leslie has written tours, developed permanent exhibits, spearheaded school tours and camps, and helped oversee the expansion of the museum’s interpretation.
In her spare time, Leslie can be found traveling to see friends, to explore history, or to attend one of the many concerts she so enjoys. She also enjoys every streaming TV service that exists, spending time with her husband of 20 years and their dog, Jack, and relaxing on the beach.
Jen was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest daughter of a native Wilmingtonian and a native Long Islander. She was taught her southern manners and to love beach music from early on. Having grandparents living in Wilmington, Jen spent many of her summers at “Grandma and Grandpa Camp,” as her family called the trips to visit them. Jen has wonderful memories of her grandparents taking her on tours of downtown Wilmington and watching fireworks from the top of the old parking garage across from the Battleship.
Jen moved to Wilmington in 2009 to attend UNC Wilmington and earned her Bachelor’s degree in special education with a dual license in elementary education. Loving the area as much as she did before college, she told her parents that she would not be moving back to New York so plan to visit her in Wilmington anytime!
Jen taught Special Education in New Hanover County and Lancaster, PA for 9 years, focusing on intensive behaviors. She also served as co-chair for the Special Education Department at Middle Grove Middle School.
Now as the Director of Education & Engagement at Bellamy Mansion Museum, she is learning the world of non-profit work and enjoying her time learning more of Wilmington’s history!
In her spare time, Jen has a small candle business in Wilmington called Fenntin. On weekends, you will find her driving her Jeep on the beach especially at Fort Fisher, traveling to Raleigh to spend time with her big sister or participating in local vendor shows. In August 2021, Jen married her long-time sweetheart, Aaron, at Brooklyn Art Center. They are the proud staff of two special needs cats, Patrick and Dexter.