Donna Ann Harris is the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., a Philadelphia-based certified WBE consulting firm in NJ, DE and PA that works nationwide providing training, research, coaching and consulting services on historic preservation, audience development, volunteer management, heritage tourism, program planning and organizational development issues for historic sites, downtowns, and community-based organizations.
Prior to starting her firm thirteen years ago, Ms. Harris was State Coordinator for the Illinois Main Street program for two years and the manager of the Illinois suburban Main Street program for four years. During her tenure as State Coordinator, Ms. Harris served 56 Illinois Main Street communities, led a staff of 12, and managed a budget of $1.1 million dollars.
Since 2002, Ms. Harris has worked with state, countywide and local Main Street programs in 23 states. She has spoken for the last eleven years at the National Main Street Center annual conference and at the International Downtown Association annual meetings in 2013, 2009 and 2008. Ms. Harris has published six feature articles in the National Main Street Center’s quarterly journal, Main Street Now: “A Bakers Dozen: Thirteen Myths about Main Street Boards” (Winter 2015); “Illinois Main Street Back on Track: Case Studies” (July/August 2012); “Make Your Case: Triple Your Membership” (September/October 2010); "Make More Money from Members," (August, 2008); “Is a BID Feasible for Your Town? Ten Questions to Ponder,” (April 2007) and “A Valiant Effort” and “What You Can Do, Lessons From Illinois Main Street,” (January 2005). Ms. Harris is an active contributor to the Main Street Center’s blog Main Street Weekly and recorded a webinar for the National Main Street Center in September 2015 on Year-End Giving. Ms. Harris will be a featured instructor at the new Main Street America Institute speaking on Comprehensive Revenue Strategies in March 2016.
Prior to her Main Street career, Ms. Harris spent 15 years as an executive director of three start-ups and two mature historic preservation organizations. During these positions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois, she began membership drives, lead strategic planning efforts, public relations and a capital campaign, raising more than $3.75 million in grants, managing staffs ranging in size from two to eight, and was responsible for organizational, project and endowment budgets of up to $2.6 million.
As a preservation planner with more than 30 years of professional experience, Ms. Harris has assisted citizen groups and government agencies in identifying appropriate reuses for threatened historic properties to ensure the long-term preservation and maintenance of the sites. In the past twelve years, Ms. Harris has spoken about and consulted with historic house museums around the country, alternative uses and stewardship responsibilities. Ms. Harris provides reuse plans, feasibility studies, case studies and business plans for program expansion, reuse or repurposing of historic sites and house museums for clients nationwide.
AltaMira Press published her book, New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses, in 2007. Ms. Harris has published articles about reuse of historic house museums in History News, the quarterly magazine of the American Association for State and Local History and Forum Journal, the quarterly journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the past eight years, Ms. Harris has spoken at more than 35 national, regional and statewide conferences about her house museum research. In 2011, Heritage Consulting Inc. won the prestigious Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for its yearlong project, Delaware County (PA) Public History Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan.
Recent historic preservation projects include: conducted research to create an overview of preservation funding and incentives nationwide for Heritage Oredon, wrote a chapter for a forthcoming book on "Best Practices for Board Service for Historic House Museums," facilitated of a series of public involvement activities about the Historic City Dock area of Annapolis MD for Historic Annapolis; consultant on interpretive planning for new interpretive plan for Arch Street Meeting House Philadelphia PA; planned and hosted a strategic planning symposium for the Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright designed Charnley-Norwood House in Ocean Springs MS; research for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency on alternatives for funding, and hours and management of state-owned historic sites; facilitated a two-day meeting of all the Frank Lloyd Wright houses open to the public for the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy; prepared a preservation plan for Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia PA; facilitated a workshop on public programming at the Frank Lloyd Wright-des igned Dana-Thomas House in Springfield IL and business plans for program expansion at the historic house, farm and garden at Wyck in Philadelphia PA.
For the last seven years, Heritage Consulting Inc. has undertaken heritage tourism assessments of the Glover Filling Mill Park in Haddon Heights NJ; the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster, NJ; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Burlington, NJ; Jacob’s Chapel and Colemantown Meeting House in Mt. Laurel, NJ; Woodbridge Township NJ; Barrow Mansion Development Corporation in Jersey City, NJ and for Main Street Lansing IA.
Heritage Consulting Inc. has conducted audience research projects (surveys, focus groups, interviews) for preservation organizations, including the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Delaware County (PA) Planning Commission, Preservation New Jersey, Wyck in Philadelphia, and the Whitesbog Preservation Trust, NJ.
Heritage Consulting Inc. has also completed extensive consumer and stakeholder surveys for downtown revitalization clients such as Ardmore Initative in Ardmore PA, Metuchen Downtown Alliance NJ, a second strategic plan for Tacony CDC in Philadelphia PA, Lawrenceville NJ Main Street, Downtown West Orange NJ Alliance, Roxborough Development Corporation in Philadelphia PA, North Fifth Street Revitalization Project, Philadelphia PA, Tacony Community Development Corporation, Philadelphia PA; Main Street Vineland, NJ, Montclair Center, NJ, Howell Main Street DDA in Michigan, Ortonville DDA in Ortonville MI, and the Downtown Somerville Alliance, NJ. Heritage Consulting Inc. has completed strateic plans for eight Main Street New Jersey communities as well as for downtown clients in IL, MI and Philadelphia, PA. Ms. Harris has presented workshops on a variety of fundraising and board management topics at national and state Main Street conferences.
Ms. Harris earned a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University in New York City and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She holds a BA in both American Studies and Art History from the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. Harris is a Certified Main Street Manager, a credential from the National Main Street Center. Ms. Harris’ experience meets, and exceeds, the minimum professional qualifications defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 61, Appendix A) for an architectural historian.
See Ms. Harris' complete vita here.