The Place Holder
Courtesy Mark McDonald
As president and CEO of the Georgia Trust since 2008, Mark McDonald 79C led one of the country’s largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust works to safeguard and enrich Georgia communities and their diverse historic resources, generating community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties and raising public awareness through an annual listing of Georgia’s “Places in Peril.”
“I first became interested in preservation during law school, when I took classes in city planning and historic preservation in the University of Georgia’s Graduate School of Environmental Design,” says McDonald, who has worked in historic preservation for more than twenty-five years. “Before that I was not aware that there were careers in historic preservation.”
Created in 1973, the Georgia Trust was a founding member of the National Trust Partners Network when the alliance of nonprofits was formed in 1995. In December, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that McDonald has been elected chair of the National Trust Partners Network.
Prior to coming to the Georgia Trust, McDonald served as executive director of three other preservation organizations—Historic Savannah Foundation, the Mobile Historic Development Commission in Alabama, and Historic Salisbury Foundation in North Carolina.
“My favorite historic places are the squares of Savannah,” McDonald says. “They exhibit how a beautiful and ingenious design can benefit humanity.”
The National Trust Partners Network, which comprises more than 120 state, regional, and local nonprofit organizations, represents the top-tier preservation organizations in the country. These organizations are actively involved in saving and protecting historic places, advocating for preservation-friendly policies, and promoting the economic and social benefits of historic preservation.
“The aspect that I enjoy the most about my work in preservation is meeting people who are so dedicated to their communities and neighborhoods,” McDonald says. “These are the people who make the world a better place.”
A double history and English major at Emory, McDonald credits the university for letting him explore an interdisciplinary approach to the humanities through the Institute of Liberal Arts.
“Specifically, I developed a love of historic architecture studying under Tom Lyman and William Crelly during a summer abroad program in France and England,” he says. “Both of these professors were brilliant scholars and great teachers.”