Preservation NC 2020 Virtual Conference Speakers

Thursday, October 15

Donovan Rypkema

Donovan D. Rypkema is principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development-consulting firm. The work of the firm is at the nexus of historic preservation and economics. He has undertaken assignments for public and non-profit sector clients in 49 US states. He also teaches a course on the economics of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania where he received the 2008 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Rypkema was educated at Columbia University receiving a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation. He is author of several publications including Community Initiated Development, The Economics of Rehabilitation, and the Feasibility Assessment Manual for Reusing Historic Buildings. Rypkema’s book, The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide is widely used by preservationists nationwide and has been translated in to Russian and Korean.

Rypkema has worked with such groups as the Urban Land Institute, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, the American Planning Association, Smart Growth America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the International Downtown Association. Federal Government clients have included the U.S. Army, the Department of State, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation for whom he prepared a report entitled Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation.

In the fall of 2012 Rypkema received the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Crowninshield Award is the nation’s highest preservation honor and awarded for lifetime contribution to historic preservation in the United States.

Heather Bratland

Heather Bratland is the Historic Resources Officer with the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission. Heather received a Master of Architectural History and Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia in 2004. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Chicago. She began her professional career at the Trust for Architectural Easements in Washington, DC, where she managed the stewardship of over 800 historic properties. More recently, she served as a commissioner and vice-chair of the Linn County (IA) Historic Preservation Commission. As a commissioner, Heather developed a rural preservation initiative and served on the Grant Committee.

Heather joined the staff of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Planning & Development Services in October 2018 where she works with property owners in Winston-Salem’s West End and manages Forsyth County’s historic marker program.


Adrienne Nirdé

Adrienne Nirdé is the Associate Director of the NC African American Heritage Commission. She comes to the Commission having worked most recently at the President James K. Polk Historic Site in Pineville, NC, and prior to that at the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC. She holds a Master’s degree in Museum Studies from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis as well as Bachelor’s degrees in History and Anthropology from Indiana University.

She is a proud member of the Smithsonian’s Interpreting African American History and Culture Workshop 2020 cohort. She has always had a primary interest in sharing diverse stories, particularly those that that are “difficult” or have not yet been told. Adrienne recently relocated to Wake County with her husband, a middle school social studies teacher, and their two dog children Edy and Beau.




Ansley Wegner

Ansley Herring Wegner, a native of Wilson, has worked in the North Carolina Office of Archives and History since 1994. She graduated with from UNC Chapel Hill and worked in various jobs, including as a private investigator, before deciding to return to school. She earned a master’s degree in Public History from NC State and began her career in the State Archives search room. Wegner has been with Historical Research since 2000 and administrator of the Highway Historical Marker Program since 2015.

She is the author of three books, History for All the People: One Hundred Years of Public History in North Carolina, Phantom Pain: North Carolina’s Artificial-Limbs Program for Confederate Veterans, and This Day in North Carolina History. She contributed to The Governors of North Carolina and William S. Powell’s Encyclopedia of North Carolina.



Brett Sturm

Brett Sturm joined the State Historic Preservation Office in 2017 as Restoration Specialist for an 18-county area in the central Piedmont. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master of science in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, where his primary focus was the conservation of brick and terra cotta. Prior to his tenure with the SHPO, Brett worked as a project manager for a general contracting company specializing in historic home renovations in center city Philadelphia.

Brett is thankful to help advance preservation work in a region of the state encompassing his own native county of Mecklenburg. As a Restoration Specialist, he provides technical assistance to local governments, private building owners, and non-profit organizations on old building quandaries of all kinds. He also consults on and reviews building rehabilitation projects seeking federal and state tax credits. Away from architecture and history, Brett’s primary interests are ceramic arts, gardening, guitar-playing, and rowing.


Reid Thomas

Reid Thomas is a Restoration Specialist for the State Historic Preservation Office, Division of Historical Resources, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Serving out of the Eastern Office in Greenville, since 1990, he works in 18 counties in the northeastern region providing technical restoration assistance to hundreds of private and public projects. Reid specializes in early building technology, historic paints, building conservation and disaster planning and recovery.

He is a recipient of the Quinque International Fellowship where he studied Scottish building conservation techniques and fire protection for historic properties. Reid was awarded the Robert E. Stipe Professional
Statewide Historic Preservation Award in 2006. He currently serves as a member of Edgecombe Community College’s Historic Preservation Technology Program Board of Advisors and Cultural Resources Emergency Response Team.


Patrick Woodie

Patrick is the president of the NC Rural Center. He is a product of our state’s public schools, including Piney Creek Elementary School in Piney Creek and Alleghany High School in Sparta. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 1987 and from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1990.

After law school, Patrick worked briefly for Congressman Steve Neal before becoming the first executive director of the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Sparta. From 1992-1999, Patrick served as director of the chamber and as the lead economic developer for the county, successfully recruiting two new industries to the county that were the top new investments in the entire state in 1994 and 1998.

Toward the end of Patrick’s chamber tenure, a collaborative effort led by the Alleghany Chamber resulted in the New River being named one of 14 American Heritage Rivers in the United States by President Bill Clinton in July of 1998. Nine months later, Patrick left the chamber to become the first executive director of a startup nonprofit, New River Community Partners, the lead organization responsible for coordinating and leading the basin-wide implementation of a sustainable economic development plan encompassing three northwestern North Carolina counties, 11 southwestern Virginia counties, and seven southern West Virginia counties.

In 2000, Patrick was elected to the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners. In 2003, Patrick, still director of New River Community Partners was simultaneously named executive director of the Blue Ridge Business Development Center, a revitalization project in Sparta that was an initiative of New River Community Partners. The project involved the renovation of an abandoned textile plant—the place his mother had worked for 42 years—into a state-of- the-art technology and education center focused on transitioning the region’s old manufacturing economy to a new more diversified economic base for northwestern North Carolina.

In March of 2006, Patrick lost his father, a retired school teacher. He then made the difficult decision to leave his home county in October of 2006 to become vice president of programs for the North Carolina Rural Center. As a graduate of the Center’s Rural Economic Development Institute and a member of the Center’s board of directors from 1997 to 2000, Patrick already had a long history with–and connection to–the NC Rural Center.

In 2013, he was named president of the NC Rural Center and led the organization through a major transition, repositioning the Center into a new era of work and community engagement but still focused on the singular mission to serve the people and places of rural North Carolina.

Friday, October 16

Brent Leggs

Brent Leggs is the executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Envisioned as a social movement for justice, equity, and reconciliation, the Action Fund is promoting the role of cultural preservation in telling the nation’s full history, while also empowering activists, entrepreneurs, artists, and civic leaders to advocate on behalf of African American historic places.

A Harvard University Loeb Fellow and author of Preserving African American Historic Places, which is considered the “seminal publication on preserving African American historic sites” by the Smithsonian Institution, Brent is a national leader in the U.S. preservation movement and the 2018 recipient of the Robert G. Stanton National Preservation Award. His passion for elevating the significance of black culture in American history is visible through his work, which elevates the remarkable stories and places that evoke centuries of black activism, achievement, and community.

Over the past decade, he has developed the Northeast African American Historic Places Outreach Program, and its theme, the Business of Preservation, to build a regional movement of preservation leaders saving important landmarks in African American history. As the project manager for several National Treasure campaigns across the country, he led efforts to create the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama, which President Barack Obama designated in January 2017. Other campaign successes include the perpetual protection of cultural monuments like Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madam C. J. Walker in Irvington, New York; Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey; A. G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham; Nina Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, North Carolina; John and Alice Coltrane’s home in Huntington, New York; and more.

Brent has taught at Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Boston Architectural College, and he is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Maryland’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

Richard Rothstein

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He lives in California, where is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California–Berkeley.








Dr. Tom Hanchett

Dr. Tom Hanchett is a community historian in Charlotte, NC, consulting with community groups and with Levine Museum of the New South. Previously he served as Staff Historian for 16 years at Levine Museum where he curated the permanent exhibition Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers (named best in the Southeast by the South East Museums Conference), and a string of national-award-winning temporary exhibitions including COURAGE about the Carolina roots of the Brown v Board Civil Rights case.

Tom’s writings range widely on urban history and Southern culture: a book about Charlotte’s neighborhoods, Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class & Urban Development in Charlotte(UNC Press); an essay exploring the history of US shopping malls; a monthly newspaper column Food From Home; and more. Educated at Cornell University, University of Chicago, and UNC Chapel Hill, he plays fiddle.


Chris and Meredith Henry

Chris is native of Colorado, has served in the military and has worked in the transportation industry for 25 years.  Meredith, a native of Chicago, is Roller Derby skater and worked in alumni support at the collegiate level for 15 years. The couple moved from Minooka, (Chicago) Illinois to Tarboro three years ago and took on restoring The Barracks.

The Barracks. is a historic home in Tarboro, (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is 160 years old and was heavily damaged in a fire on Valentine’s day 2016. All of it’s 8600 sq ft and needed work due to the fire. The building has been rewired and replumbed throughout. Nearly 3500 sq. ft. of roofing has been replaced and additions that had been added over it’s century long history have been removed so that the brilliance of the original building can come to life. The restoration continues and is expected to be completed in 2021.



April Johnson

April Johnson is Executive Director of Preservation Durham. She is a Historic Preservationist who worked with the City of Charlottesville, City of Winston-Salem, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to maintain, promote, and advocate saving historic buildings. After spending the last three and a half years in preservation planning with the City of Winston-Salem, April believes historic preservation’s most important role in the 21st century, is to create community through the reawakening of historic buildings that contribute to civic beauty, economic development, social dialogue and uplift, and a collective identity.

April intentionally seeks to make a positive impact in the cities she resides in. She serves on the board of Triad Cultural Arts, was as a board member and President of the Winston-Salem Urban League Young Professionals, Chairperson of the Citizens Advisory Committee, and served on multiple in-school/after-school programs tutoring and mentoring disenfranchised youth.

April holds a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Planning and a master’s certificate in Historic Preservation.

Charlie Miller

Charlie Miller is a founding partner in the Charlotte based brokerage firm, 5 Points Realty. As a Real Estate Broker/Realtor, he has assisted buyers and sellers of real estate in hundreds of transactions.

He has a great understanding of the Charlotte Real Estate market as a whole and a unique knowledge of the various sub-markets within the city. As a consistent eight figure annual producer, Charlie has cemented his position among Charlotte’s residential power brokers.

​After a decade of industry experience in all facets of residential real estate, the time came for Charlie to align with a General Contractor partner who shared his vision for what excellence in home building means – Williams Farrow Builders is that vision.

​Williams Farrow Builders is a residential new construction company located in Charlotte, NC that builds an array of new construction homes ranging from Craftsman to Mid-Century Modern, Farmhouses to Custom Estates.

Dean Neff

Chef Dean Neff has called Wilmington, NC his home since 2015. In May 2015 he opened PinPoint Restaurant with a seasonally driven farm-to-table menu on the Cape Fear River. In February 2019 he left the restaurant, only to be named a 2019 James Beard Semi-finalist for Best Chef Southeast before the month was over.

He will open Seabird in downtown Wilmington to further emphasize local, seasonal ingredients, including sustainably farmed seafood. Neff’s approach revolves around celebrating the seasonality of Wilmington’s seafood and other ingredients available to him in Eastern North Carolina in a sophisticated yet approachable way.