2023 Sessions and Speakers

Click here for a PDF of the full Conference program (attendees will receive a hard copy when checking into the conference).

Thursday 4/13

Please note that there will be NO water or bathrooms along the tours. Attendees should be prepared to walk for at least 90 minutes and negotiate minor difficulties, including some steep terrain on the South St. tour. Both tours meet at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center at 25 South St.

History's Hometown Architecture Tour: Downtown

Get to know downtown Auburn! This tour will include information about the commercial and industrial architecture along Genesee Street and adjacent areas, including the Auburn Correctional Facility. [2 AIA LUs]

History's Hometown Architecture Tour: South Street Historic District

The South Street tour will take attendees through Fort Hill Cemetery to Harriet Tubman's grave, then back down historic South Street. Along the way, you'll learn about the growth and development of Auburn, landscape architecture, and the struggle for equal rights. [2 AIA LUs]

Tour Guides

Geoff Starks is the Director of Development and Outreach at the Cayuga Museum of History and Art, which means everything from fundraising, to marketing, to public programming (and everything in between) falls under his wide-brimmed employment hat. He has a profound love of underrepresented history and art and has seen that passion grow every day as he learns more and more about the massive amount of cultural impact Auburn, Cayuga County, and all the people who have called this region their home. While  New York has been his home state for over half of his life, Geoff was born and raised in North Carolina and has lived in nine different cities across the East Coast, which has driven his interest in exploring unique cultural and historic sites.

Mitch Maniccia has been the Facilities Manager at the Seward House Museum since 2015. In that time, he has developed various planning studies, led preservation projects, and spearheaded grant writing. 

Justin Harris is a tour guide out of Auburn who specializes in Harriet Tubman. He was an intern for the National Park Service in 2022 and started doing private tours shortly after. 

Friday 4/14

All Friday sessions take place at the Emerson Park Pavilion (6879 E. Lake Rd., Auburn, 13021)

If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail: Preparing for Upcoming NYS Anniversaries

This guided panel discussion and Q&A session will explore upcoming anniversaries in New York State, including New York State Parks Centennial (2024), Erie Canal Bicentennial (1825), the United States 250th/Semiquincentennial (2026), and the 200th Commemoration of Gradual Manumission and the end of legal Slavery in New York (1827). Speakers will share information about anniversary topics and themes, opportunities for participation and support, and resources for planning.


Sally Drake is the Executive Director of the Natural Heritage Trust (Trust). Sally was appointed to this position by the Board of Directors in October 2020. The Executive Director serves under the direction of, and is accountable to, the Board of the Trust. Sally is responsible for directing all aspects of the Trust’s operations, fundraising and programs.

Sally has over two decades of public sector experience, with thirteen years at the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation where she served as Director of Community Relations.  In that role, she developed and implemented a variety of programmatic and policy initiatives to engage the communities served by State Parks and welcome new and underserved visitors to the State Park system. Among the programs she launched was the Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program which has served over 300,000 youth; the free Learn-to-Swim program which has taught thousands of children to swim at state parks; and together with partner Parks & Trails New York, she oversaw the agency’s implementation of the state’s largest state park volunteer event, I Love My Park Day. At State Parks, Sally worked to leverage private funding to support new programs, strengthen outreach and engage diverse and inclusive partners in communities throughout the state.

Sally received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bard College in 1995 and a Master of Art in Public Policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York, Albany in 1997.

Devin Lander is New York’s 16th State Historian and Head of Museum Chartering for the State Education Department.  Previous to being named State Historian, he was the Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and worked as Deputy Legislative and Policy Director for the Chair of the New York State Assembly’s Tourism, Arts, Parks and Sports Development and Governmental Operations Committees.  He holds a BA in History from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh and a MA in Public History from the University at Albany where he is currently completing work on his PhD.  Devin is also co-host of the award-winning podcast A New York Minute in History produced by WAMC-Northeast Public Radio and co-editor of the New York History journal published by Cornell University Press.  He was elected as a New York Academy of History Fellow in 2020.

Jean has served as the Director of Communications and Outreach for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor since 2007. She works collaboratively with federal, state, and local agencies and organizations throughout the 500-mile-long National Heritage Corridor to preserve canal heritage, promote tourism, and foster vibrant communities along the waterway. Jean is responsible for developing and implementing communications, marketing, and special programs. Jean formerly worked as Director of Education for Audubon International. She holds a MS in Environmental Education from Leslie University.

Lavada Nahon is the Interpreter of African American History for NYS OPRHP-Bureau of Historic Sites; and a culinary historian focused on the 17th – 19th centuries, mid-Atlantic region, with an emphasis on the work of enslaved cooks in the homes of the elite class. She is also a generalist in New York African American history 19th through 20th century. She has 20 plus years of public history experience working with a variety of historic sites, societies, and museums across the tri-state region. Lavada has developed educational programs, after-school programs, lectures and tours, period presentations, and historic dinners for sites ranging from the New York Historical Society, Albany Institute of Art and History, Fraunces Tavern, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, Johnson Hall, many more. She worked as a museum associate and educator for Historic Hudson Valley for twelve years at Van Cortlandt Manor and Philipsburg Manor Upper Mills, and as a production coordinator on their special events team for three.  Her mission is to bring history to life by giving presence to the Africans and people of African descent enslaved and free in the New Netherland/New York in whatever way possible.

Cordell Reaves is the Coordinator of Community Affairs at the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation where he works closely with New York State historic sites to engage the public and tell more complete and inclusive stories. He has over 20 years of experience working with museums, historic sites, and tourism professionals on cultural heritage projects, including ongoing work with the Kingdom of the Netherlands to explore and promote New York State’s significant Dutch connections. With a Master of Arts degree from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies, he is a seasoned researcher of New York history who has focused on the early Dutch period, colonial slavery, the Underground Railroad, the anti-slavery movement, and the Great Migration. Cordell has been recognized for his work through awards such as the Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Award from the State University of New York at Oneonta, the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Service in New York History from The New York Academy of History, and the Huttleston Distinguished Service Award from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He currently sits on the advisory board for the Historic House Trust of New York City. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Troy, New York.

The Big Issues of Small Cities: Preservation in New York’s 50 under 50

New York State has 50 cities with populations below 50,000. These small cities often face unique opportunities and challenges in historic preservation. From limitations in financial, professional, and skilled labor resources to a lack of familiarity and education among the local property owners with historic preservation's benefits and restrictions, the work of small city planners and preservation professionals need a different set of skills. This panel will explore the nature of historic preservation in our state's small cities through the work of local planners. [1.25 AIA LUs]


Frank Besse is the Urban Core Director of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, a non-profit focused on economic and neighborhood revitalization. He works with downtown building and business owners, city government, and other stakeholders to improve Jamestown’s economic environment and urban fabric through planning, grantmaking, and advocacy.

Before his current role, Frank started and invested in multiple businesses, including a screen printing company, a skateboard manufacturer, and a restaurant. Outside of work, Frank enjoys being outdoors, reading, and spending time with his wife and two young children.

Nick Edward is the Neighborhood Stabilization Coordinator for the City of Newburgh. Currently, he is working on an African American Civil Rights Grant project that focuses on cultural significance, black history and community preservation, alongside architectural integrity within the East End Historic District in the City of Newburgh. He is also continuing the development of the vacant and rental registries, documenting efficient property information, and working Zombie/foreclosure properties. His aim is to decrease blight around the City and help to determine better uses for parcels. Nick loves to engage the community through events, such as clean-ups with Love Your Block Grant from Cities RISE, and interacting with residents on other issues or ideas. He also serves on the Desmond Center for Community Engagement and Wellness Advisory Board at Mount St. Mary’s College. He holds a BS in Community, Environment and Development from the Pennsylvania State University.

Jennifer Haines is the Director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Auburn, a Certified Local Government.  The Planning Office provides staff assistance to the City of Auburn Historic Resources Review Board, which is responsible for preserving the City’s historic buildings located within the South Street Area National Historic District and several Local Landmarks. The office also provides focus for the City’s physical planning and development process, community development, economic development and code enforcement.

Professor Michael Tomlan directs the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Planning, in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell. He assists students not only in historic preservation but also graduate and undergraduate students in archaeology, architecture, engineering, history, hotel administration, landscape architecture, public affairs, real estate, and urban studies.

Professor Tomlan is Project Director of the National Council for Preservation Education, a board member and fellow of the Association for Preservation Technology, President of Historic Urban Plans, Inc., served on the board of zoning appeals in Ithaca for a decade and has worked on hundreds of projects in New York State from the Erie Canal waterfront in Buffalo to Greenpoint, Long Island.

Bonnie mcDonald
President & CEO, Landmarks Illinois

People’s Right to Place:
Building a More Relevant and Just Preservation Movement

At its 50th anniversary, Landmarks Illinois embarked on an effort to explore its relevance and how to move preservation forward over its next 50 years, culminating in its seminal guiding principles. What the organization found is that preservationists across the nation are deeply questioning our practices and our movement’s future. Landmarks Illinois president & CEO Bonnie McDonald was awarded a 2020 James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship to help bring the field’s challenges, and solutions, to the forefront through The Relevancy Project. Between 2019-2021, Bonnie McDonald spoke to 130 individuals, both within and outside of the preservation field, to explore these questions and bring forward people’s wisdom illuminating how change is possible. The project has evolved into a forward-looking effort to catalogue preservation’s issues, to make the case for its opportunities, to highlight creative solutions already being tried, and to instigate collective action toward change that will build a more relevant and just movement. History, culture and lifeways are a human and civil right and we must support people’s right to place. In 2022, McDonald published 11 blog posts exploring specific areas of preservation’s needed evolution and the final work, The Relevancy Guidebook, is forthcoming in 2023. [1 AIA LU/HSW]

Bonnie McDonald aspires to shape preservation into a more relevant and just practice. As president and CEO of Landmarks Illinois (LI), Bonnie advances the vision, mission, and programs of Illinois’ only statewide preservation nonprofit organization. Her transformative thinking about preservation has led LI to focus its work on people and their important connection to historic places. She’s currently spearheading the organization’s evolution to enhance its relevance and to create a national model for justice, equity, inclusion and diversity in preservation practice. From 2018-2021, Bonnie served as board chair of the National Preservation Partners Network, the national nonprofit representing preservation organizations, and she is proud to have been awarded the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation Mid-Career Fellowship in 2020 to write a guidebook to relevancy in the preservation movement. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Bonnie co-chair of the Chicago Monuments Project in 2020 to help lead a truth and racial reckoning process in the city around problematic artworks. Bonnie received a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University.

Roadmap to Revitalization: Exploring the Main Street Approach™

Main Street was established as a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980 as a way to address the issues facing older and historic downtowns during that time. Today, Main Street America (an independent subsidiary of the National Trust) works with over 2,000 urban and rural communities across the country to strengthen historic downtowns and neighborhoods through preservation-based economic development. Although there are a handful of smaller communities in New York State that have adopted a Main Street-like approach, New York has no official Main Street communities. Unlike most states with thriving Main Street programs, New York also lacks a statewide coordinating program.

This session will explore the Main Street Approach, including the fundamentals of the four-point approach; the different ways communities can choose to structure a Main Street program; and how New York’s cities, villages, and towns might benefit from the program. We’ll hear from Main Street managers in three different communities: the Historic Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Shaw Main Streets in Washington DC; and Main Street Eureka Springs in Arkansas. We’ll also hear from New Yorkers who have applied the Main Street approach to small towns in upstate New York. [1.25 AIA LU/HSW]


Alexander M. Padro is executive director of Shaw Main Streets, the 2016 Great American Main Street Award and 2015 Innovation on Main Street Award-winning Main Street program in Washington, DC. He has served as the program’s manager since 2004 and has been a local elected official for 21 years. Padro was a founder of the Art All Night DC festival and helped create the city’s Clean and Safe Team program. A native New Yorker, he is eager to support the effort to bring Main Streets to the Empire State.

Bill White is the Executive Director of The Historic Greenwood District Main Street. HGDMS’s mission is to preserve the historic character and importance of the Historic Greenwood District while achieving economic revitalization that is reflective of the historically Black entrepreneurship that has existed in the district for over a century.

Bill is a transplant from Portland, Oregon. He holds a BA in Real Estate from Morehouse College in Atlanta and a BBA in Accounting (and is a CPA candidate) from Langston University. His very first venture was a leaf-raking business at the age of 12. Bill is a business professional motivated by creating outside-the-box opportunities to bring long-term value and continued growth within an organization, business, or city. He understands the fundamental value of leveraging strong relationships that are built on trust, integrity, and mutual respect to develop and maintain a successful business.  

Not afraid of a challenge or the fear of the unknown, Bill never takes “no” as the final answer in the pursuit of what he is passionate about or believes in.  A lover of life, travel, and entrepreneurial challenges, Bill enjoys spending time with his wife, and three sons, and looking for the next entrepreneurial endeavor to pursue.

Jacqueline Wolven focuses her work on Real People & Places helping them to love where they are. Harnessing 25+ years in corporate, travel, and small business marketing, she brings a depth of understanding of how to tell your story authentically and with results for organizations and communities. Her practical approach allows all areas of marketing and leadership to reach everyone. She has in depth experience in program strategy, building a story around what already exists and diving deeply into community development.

A National Arts Strategy fellow, Citizen University fellow, America Walks fellow, Main Street Director, Founder of a Nonprofit Coalition, and Etsy Maker City grant awardee, she understands Main Street organizations’ broad needs, nonprofit organizations, and makers as entrepreneurs working together in an inclusive ecosystem.

She is available for consulting with your organization and speaking nationwide. Follow her on Instagram and Linked In, @jackiewolven and at

Louise Wadsworth is Downtown Coordinator for Livingston County Development Corporation, the non-profit arm of the Economic Development office of Livingston County.  She has been working on downtown revitalization throughout the county since 2005, but it has always been her passion.   Louise comes from a retail background; she owned and operated Pictures and Presents on Main Street in Geneseo for 26 years, and before that she operated a camera shop on Martha’s Vineyard.  In her role as Downtown Coordinator of the Downtown Partnership, she works with 9 villages, local stakeholders, and many small business and building owners to grow the economy in the downtown districts. 

Since 2008 the Downtown Partnership of Livingston County has administered 12 New York Main Street Building Renovation Grants and 8 Technical Assistance Grants.  The locally funded First Impressions Grant is a highly successful sign and façade program that funded 42 projects throughout the county in 2022.

Roxanne Kise has been actively involved in grassroots community activism and historical community development and revitalization for over forty years. She spent close to twenty-five years in education advocating and coordinating educational, experiential and community intergenerational programing that provided equal opportunities for students in a regional underserved community. After retiring from the field of education Roxanne knew her passion for community restoration was not something she could stop. Therefore, in 2011 she established Roxanne Kise Consulting, LLC which is a NYS Women Certified Business. Over these last twelve years she has collaborated with various organizations such as the Western Erie Canal Alliance America Main Street Programs, and advised museums and not for profits state wide, to adopt cooperative community efforts to encourage community revitalization and preservation. Since 2015 to January 30th of this year, she has worked exclusively with University of Buffalo Regional Institute focusing on community development and community capacity projects in Buffalo’s East Side. With diverse and inclusive collaboration, advocacy and use of National Main Street tenets she has orchestrated the empowerment of community development organizations to generate well over thirty million dollars in both private, state and federal funding to develop areas along Michigan Avenue as well as Capacity Building Technical Assistance & Neighborhood Planning for the Better Buffalo Fund Buffalo Main Streets Initiative. Roxanne is now a contracted team member with the MRB GROUP and their Municipal Services division as they work with a Western NY community to develop a Smart Growth Strategic Plan.

Roxanne has been very active in community and regional organizations she was a thirteen year member of Village of Clyde Planning Board, participated in Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council committees, and was Mayor of the Village of Clyde to name a few. Roxanne does not see herself walking away from her passion for community and neighborhood restoration and development anytime soon.

Bad Preservation: When Good Intentions Become NIMBY Nonsense

Historic preservation has an image problem. While tales of the power of preservation organizations and regulations are greatly exaggerated, that does not stop bad actors from attempting to co-opt preservation organizations as glorified homeowners’ associations and using preservation regulations to hinder necessary development in their neighborhoods. These actions rarely reflect the priorities and goals of preservationists, but somehow still define the field in the public imagination. What can preservationists do to change this perception? How can the field illustrate its commitment to housing equity and sustainability through utilizing our historic building stock? This session will consist of a presentation of common misconceptions and misuses of preservation followed by a working group discussion to brainstorm actionable ideas to change the perception of historic preservation to create a more just world. [1.25 AIA LUs]


Anna Marcum is an independent architectural historian and preservationist based in Brooklyn, New York. Anna earned a Master of Preservation Studies in 2018 from the Tulane School of Architecture in New Orleans, Louisiana where she was the recipient of the inaugural Ann and Frank Masson Graduate Research Fellowship. In 2013, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Barnard College of Columbia University. Anna Marcum meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualification Standards for Architectural Historians. She has listed properties on the National Register of Historic Places and the New Orleans’ Nine Most Endangered Sites. She has worked with the Vieux Carré Commission of New Orleans and Historic New England. Marcum has also worked on historic preservation projects in Los Angeles, California, the Texas Gulf Coast, Hammond, Louisiana, and Foley, Alabama. Anna presented her research about innovative site interpretation methods for New Orleans’ Canal Street in the “Projects in Progress” poster session at the Society of Architectural Historians 72nd Annual International Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. She is a regular contributor to Atomic Ranch and The Architect’s Newspaper and has appeared on the Preservation Destination Podcast. Anna is currently the Director of Research and Preservation at Village Preservation.

Chuck Snyder joined RUPCO in 2006. Mr. Snyder has an extensive commercial construction background with over twenty years of design/build-construction management experience in the Hudson Valley, working in various private-sector positions with both construction management and development firms. Mr. Snyder has been involved with the production of over 400 units of private and DHCR, tax credit funded housing. Mr. Snyder holds a B.A. from Temple University and brings site planning and architectural skills to the team.

Christopher Trevisani is Vice President of Business Development for Housing Visions Unlimited, Inc., a not-for-profit housing development company in Syracuse, New York.  His work at Housing Visions has helped revitalize numerous neighborhood communities throughout New York State utilizing a multitude of financing vehicles such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, Brownfield Tax Credits, and numerous federal and state resources to promote the creation and preservation of affordable and supportive housing.  He has been involved in various sectors of real estate development and historic preservation projects across the county for over 25 years.  Recent preservation projects include portions of the Phoenix Block in downtown Syracuse and the former Crescent Corset factory in Cortland, which received the 2018 PACNY Pat Earle Award.  He holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Union College and a MS in Real Estate Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Saturday, 4/15

Field Session A - A guided tour of the rehabilitated 1936 Central High School

This guided tour will walk participants through the 1936 former Central High School in downtown Auburn. In 2000, the 77,000 square foot, mostly vacant school was adapted to a comprehensive medical center. Participants will be guided by developer Tom Minicucci, Managing Partner of Central Building, LLC, who will explain how the building’s spaces were converted to medical use and why the developers chose to rehabilitate an existing building rather than build new. [2 AIA LUs]


Tom Minicucci is the Managing Partner of Central Building, LLC (DBA: Health Central), a comprehensive 77,000sf medical center in downtown Auburn, NY. He recruits local and regional medical, dental and health related practices to this completely renovated 1938 structure (formerly Central High School).

Prior to his current position, Tom was a hospital administrator and medical developer of over 500,000sf of space in Central NY and PA. His services include planning, design, securing leases and construction.

He has a BS, engineering license and is a USNR-Ret. LT from the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Tom also has an MBA from Cornell in Hospital and Health Services Administration. Outside of work, he enjoys travel, cooking, spending time with family and volunteering on local boards.

Field Session B - Behind-the-scenes tour of Opendore & Howland Stone Store Museum

This field session will feature a behind-the-scenes tour of Opendore, the 1837 home of William, Hannah, and Isabel Howland, national leaders in the women’s suffrage movement. The house was remodeled in the 1860s, 1888, and in 1910 with a significant addition. Noted Syracuse architect Albert Brockway designed the 1910 renovation in a vernacular Colonial Revival style. Today, the house is owned and operated by the Howland Stone Store Museum. When the Museum acquired the property in 2008, it had been neglected for decades and was nearly beyond salvaging. From 2013 through 2021, the Museum completed an impressive rehabilitation and restoration, utilizing 41 volunteers donating over 13,000 hours of labor, along with state grants, and local funding.

Opendore now welcomes visitors with public programs and exhibitions on its main and second floors. The second floor has been made accessible with a lift and includes a women's history research library, gallery as well as staff offices. Opendore’s new climate controlled archival storage room is now home to the Museum's nationally significant collection of suffrage posters and other collection materials. In 2022, the project received an Excellence in Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.

Participants will learn how the Museum accomplished this impressive restoration, utilizing mostly volunteer labor, and how they made use of salvaged components and fabricated reproductions, historic photos, and geothermal heating and cooling to return this long-vacant building to active use. [2 AIA LUs]


Guy is a graduate of Cornell University and a retired professional engineer. He is a board member of Southern Cayuga Instant Aid and past board member of Seward House Museum and Southern Cayuga School District. He is chairman of the Facilities Committee and has led the Opendore restoration project for the past 5 years.

Larry, a native of Broome County, was a theater major at Baldwin-Wallace College. He studied biblical historical criticism at Gordon-Conwell Seminary and pastored churches in Cayuga County for 23 years. While pastoring, he studied archaeology and ancient history at Cornell, and participated in a dig at tel Zeitah in Israel. Since retirement, he has indulged his passion for family history by tracking down cousins in Poland, Ukraine, and Romania, and publishing historical articles in FamilySearch, Rodziny, and the Bukovina Journal. He chairs the HSSM Fundraising Committee and is active in the Opendore restoration effort, having previously worked as a historic restoration carpenter in Broome County.

Marilyn is a native of Scipio where nearly all her ancestors have lived since the post Revolutionary period. She graduated from Wells College, then lived and worked in Syracuse for thirty years as a supervising counselor at Hillbrook Detention Facility. She has taken many classes in art and special education at Syracuse University. She now lives in her grandparents’ house in Scipio and teaches art at Peachtown. She is a long time docent at Everson Museum, and is Program Committee Chair and on the HSSM Facilities Committee, and is active in the Opendore restoration project.