It is with delight and some trepidation that I step into the shoes of our very capable past First Vice President, Will Moore. Membership in the VAF over the years has given me such joy and contributed so much to my growth as a heritage conservation professional and scholar of the built environment that I could not turn down the opportunity to pay it forward and follow Will as First VP.
Annmarie Adams and her students at McGill University introduced me to the VAF at its Ottawa meeting in 1995, when I was a master’s student supporting my scholarly habit with a part-time gig at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. I swallowed my shyness and got acquainted with a handful of Dell Upton and Paul Groth’s students -- along with Dell and Paul themselves -- and just over two years later, made my way to Berkeley to enroll in the Ph.d program in History of Architecture. By then, I was a committed VAFer, with Portland recently under my belt. I have many fond memories of those first VAF meetings, but perhaps the most significant, in retrospect, was receiving Dell’s quiet advice at the Ottawa banquet, to “do what you love.”
I took that advice, and twenty years later, I am still doing what I love. Before making the move from California back to Canada, I detoured through Charlottesville, VA and Manhattan. I have been an architectural historian with the Archeology and History Branch at Parks Canada for the past seven years. The work I do every day, and the way I perform that work is informed by the culture of VAF. The organization’s emphasis on fieldwork and a broad view of the built environment, as well as the kindness and collegiality of its members set a high bar for professional conduct anywhere, and one I proudly promote at Parks.
I have had two rounds on the VAF Board, serving as chair of the papers committee, the Buchanan Award, and the Cummings Prize, among other duties. I have also played smaller roles in preparing the New York and Gaspé conferences, which explored the breadth of what the VAF has to offer in conferences. As First VP, my principal role will be to find great people to fill board positions. If you are the kind of smart, committed, creative, convivial person the VAF seems to attract, I will likely be calling on you!