My thanks and goodbye…

Friends, advocates, supporters:

It is with both sadness and excitement that I announce to you that I am resigning from my role as Executive Director of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) effective the end of May. I will be leaving Minnesota in June having accepted a new opportunity as President of Landmarks Illinois, Illinois’ statewide historic preservation nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago.  (Please read to the end for a list of contacts to assist you in my absence.)

It has been my privilege to serve PAM as its Executive Director for the past six-and-a-half years and to have been a part of its growth and success.  When hired for the position in November of 2005, I was PAM’s only staff person and charged with the exciting, but daunting, task of increasing our organization’s service statewide.  I’m proud that our now four full-time staff members and many interns have assisted thousands of stakeholders with hundreds of properties reaching every region of the state.  Donations have increased five-fold demonstrating that Minnesotans believe in PAM’s mission and our ability to wisely invest resources to preserve historic places.

To have the opportunity to do such meaningful work has been fulfilling, especially witnessing the impact of our collective work to increase preservation incentives and activity.  I take with me a rewarding list of organizational accomplishments to pin on the wall as motivational inspiration that partnerships and perseverance can achieve great things.  Together, we’ve welcomed the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, helped to pass the Legacy Amendment grant program, launched our field services program, enacted the State Historic Tax Credit, and re-launched the Minnesota Main Street Program.  We’ve hosted tours, educational workshops, symposia, and signature events to increase awareness for the value of preservation.  Along the way, I’ve had the pleasure to work with you, our board members, staff, members, donors, partners, and friends, to save historic places as a legacy for our future.  Thank you, very sincerely, for such a rewarding opportunity.

Not every step along this road has been easy, nor will it be for the future leaders of PAM.  I’ve seen more than a few of my hard-fought preservation efforts end with the wrecking ball.  We continue to struggle with declining revenues at the national, state, and local government level putting our incentive programs and municipally-owned resources at risk.  We have witnessed the erosion of the public decision-making process in communities statewide as citizen input is disregarded threatening significant historic resources.  Simultaneously, voices from across the country are questioning the value of protecting historic places within urban densification efforts and retaining ordinances and historic designation as preservation tools.  PAM will continue to address these challenges, but your voice and financial support will continue to be vital.

PAM and the preservation movement in Minnesota have significant momentum going forward.  We have energetic, enthusiastic, and experienced staff at PAM to implement our impactful programs and initiatives.  PAM’s active and skilled Board of Directors provides strategic governance to drive our success.  We have a growing base of financial support through our members, Annual Organizational Sponsors, Donor Circle participants, and foundation relationships.  Additionally, we have a robust network of partners with whom we collaborate to maximize our reach.  As a movement, we have more financial tools at our disposal than ever before and successes to celebrate as models statewide.  I am confident that the best for PAM and the historic places in my home state are yet to come.

PAM’s board is taking the next step to develop a transition strategy that will continue the organization’s core administrative and programmatic work through an interim leadership period.  A board task force has been formed to develop and implement a hiring plan to find PAM’s next Executive Director who will support its vision outlined in our recent Strategic Plan. This vision includes continuing PAM’s legislative advocacy, growing the Minnesota Main Street Program, and launching our new Sites Worth Saving and real estate programs. Position information will be forthcoming in late summer.

The list of people and partners to which I’d like to convey appreciation is too long for the word count I’ve been given, or I’d name names.  Count yourself in this list as a member, donor, partner, staff and board member, colleague, and friend.  I invite all of you to join me in celebrating preservation, and allowing me to thank you in person, at PAM’s free (Anti)Wrecking Ball on Friday, May 18th at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.  I look forward to seeing you, reminiscing, and toasting the future of PAM.

Sincerely and appreciatively,


Bonnie McDonald
Executive Director


Who to Contact at PAM in the Interim:

Please check our website first at for information about your question.


Follow-up questions about the following topics can be sent to the listed contact:

* Executive Director hiring process and Board of Directors:  Michael Bjornberg, Chair (

* Media quotes, magazine, membership and donations, special events, internships and volunteering: Will O’Keefe, Communications and Programs Coordinator (

* Historic property questions, Sites Worth Saving program, presentation requests, and easements: Erin Hanafin Berg, Field Representative (

* National Register, Tax Credits: Linda Pate, State Historic Preservation Office (

* Minnesota Main Street Program: Emily Northey, Minnesota Main Street Program Coordinator (

* Sponsorships: JeriLynn Young, Resource Development Committee Chair (

* Real Estate program: Phillip Waugh, Real Estate Committee Chair (


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