The Montpelier Foundation has appointed Katherine L. “Kat” Imhoff as president effective January 1, 2013. The Foundation manages James Madison’s Montpelier, where Madison was born, developed his ideas for the Constitution, and retired after his presidency. Imhoff returns to Virginia after a successful five-year tenure as State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Montana, where she led the organization’s Montana Legacy Project – the purchase of more than 300,000 acres for nearly $500 million – representing the largest conservation project ever undertaken by The Nature Conservancy.
“Montpelier is a place for making authentic, tangible connections with the past that can inspire us to build on James Madison’s legacy of constitutional self-government,” said Gregory May, Chairman of The Montpelier Foundation. “Kat Imhoff is a respected preservationist with demonstrated ability to generate support for visionary advances like those Montpelier now is prepared to undertake.”
Before she went to Montana, Imhoff was Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, heading special initiatives and leading the team that created the new Visitors Center. She also has served as Executive Director of the Preservation Alliance of Virginia, Chair of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Chair of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, and Vice President of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Imhoff earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Virginia School of Architecture.
“I come to Montpelier inspired by the possibilities and potential of this landscape,” said Kat Imhoff, incoming President of Montpelier. “Montpelier is a source of many narratives concerning our past, present and future. The intellectual legacy of James Madison, brought to life in the house and across the Landmark Forest, gardens and grounds, continues to fuel our imagination and passion as Americans. It is an honor to be offered the opportunity to lead such an inspirational institution, especially with a Board and staff committed to step forward with vigor and creativity.”
Imhoff, who led a team of more than 60 full-time and seasonal employees at The Nature Conservancy, will assume the leadership of Montpelier from Sean T. O’Brien, who served in an interim capacity after Michael Quinn, the previous president, became CEO of the American Revolution Center in Philadelphia. O’Brien will continue in his role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Imhoff’s arrival also prompts immediate comparisons to the varied hiring decisions at major hisitoric sites at Mt. Vernon (which recently hired an MBA well outside the history and museum field as president) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (which has 27 historic sites and hired an MBA with peripheral experience in preservation and historic sites).