Preservation Society quietly announces new executive director

TAKING THE REINS: On Aug. 18, the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County introduced Jessie Landl as its new executive director. Landl replaces Jack Thomson, whose lengthy tenure ended last December when he took a job in Charlotte. Photo by Will Hornaday

Nonprofits often use a change of leadership as a chance to build support for their work. “It’s an opportunity for that person to meet and interact with the public in a really meaningful way,” says Jessie Landl.

Yet when she was named executive director of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County in August, there was no big meet-and-greet: The continuing pandemic made sure of that. Instead, supporters were merely notified via email.

Landl wasn’t disappointed by her low-key start, though. “We are far enough into COVID that we were prepared for this,” she says. “It’s kind of becoming the new norm at this point.”

And for the group’s members, Landl was already a familiar face, having served as director of development and programming for three years. “I’ve always been drawn to architecture,” she explains. “I like things that last, and I love the idea of a building having many lives.”

That includes the house Landl lives in, where she recently painted an abstract, underwater-themed mural in her guest room. “It’s terrible but a much-needed distraction,” she confesses. “I’m pretty sure I will be painting over it when we can have people over to our house again.”

Like many other organizations, says Landl, the Preservation Society has had to adapt to the ongoing COVID-related restrictions and guidelines. For example, its year-round educational programs are now conducted remotely. “It hasn’t been seamless,” Landl says with a laugh, “but we’re figuring it out. And in a lot of ways, we’re learning that we’re able to reach a lot more people when we do things online.”

Despite the greater virtual turnout, however, the Preservation Society still faces the same fundraising hurdles that most nonprofits are experiencing during the current global health crisis, including the cancellation of its biggest annual fundraiser, the Time Traveling Gala.

Nevertheless, Landl says she’s optimistic about the future. Among the programs she’s most excited about is the organization’s revolving fund, which will focus on preservation efforts in underserved neighborhoods like Shiloh and the East End.

“We are working with these communities to hear from them about what places are important to preserve,” she explains.

At the same time, Landl says she’s eager to reconnect with her organization’s members when conditions allow. In-person events, she believes, remain critical to any nonprofit’s momentum and success. “It allows your supporters to understand the projects that you’re working on and feel your enthusiasm for the mission and goals that you’re trying to achieve — and that’s a tough thing to be missing right now.”

This article is part of COVID Conversations, a series of short features based on interviews with members of our community during the coronavirus pandemic in Western North Carolina. If you or someone you know has a unique story you think should be featured in a future issue of Xpress, please let us know at news@mountainx.com.

SHARE

Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Preservation Society quietly announces new executive director

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    surely the county is not about to spend money on preservation now ? huh? does the county pay her ???

    If so, this JOB needs to be CANCELLED immediately.

    1
    1
    • Thomas Calder

      Hi Enlightened Enigma,

      The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County is a nonprofit.

      Thanks for reading Xpress.

    • James

      Thanks for confirming once and for all everything you post is completely ignorant if you not only didn’t know this but didn’t take the 30 seconds to verify what kind of organization this is. We shall call you Unenlightened Ignorant.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.