Kersavage will now oversee Landmarks’ operations and work closely with Landmarks Chair to develop policy and strategic planning agency-wide. On March 28, 2019, the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced the appointment of Lisa Kersavage, former Landmarks Director of Special Projects and Strategic Planning, as Executive Director. She succeeded Sarah Carroll, who is now serving as Landmarks’ Chair.
Kersavage has 20 years of experience in historic preservation, sustainability and urban planning. Prior to her career in Landmarks, Kersavage spent eight years at the Municipal Art Society and served in various positions, including Senior Director of Preservation and Sustainability, where she led the organization’s Preservation and Climate Change campaign. Kersavage also served as the Executive Director of the Upper East Side Historical District and the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation. She was also a historic preservation public policy consultant to the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia.
As Landmarks’ Director of Special Projects and Strategic Planning, Kersavage managed special research projects and interagency planning initiatives. She helped develop and complete the plan to alleviate the agency’s 50-year backlog of properties that had been heard but not designated as landmarks. The plan led to the designation of 27 individual landmarks that had been on Landmarks’ calendar for decades. This included the IRT Powerhouse, the Loew’s 175th Street Theater in Washington Heights, the Williamsburgh Trust Company Building in Brooklyn, and the Bowne Street Community Church in Queens. She also wanted to identify preservation opportunities with other city agencies that were developing major planning efforts, such as the Greater East Midtown Rezoning. This resulted in 12 landmark designations, including the designations of the Pershing Square Building, the Shelton Hotel, and Citicorp Tower.
In addition, Kersavage oversaw and launched several special projects for the Commission. She worked on the Historic Data Project, a project funded by the New York Community Trust. The project was the largest and most comprehensive historic building data collection created by any municipal preservation agency in the nation. As a part of the project, Landmarks compiled and transferred building-by-building information from 50 years of the Commission’s historic district designation reports into a Geographic Information System (GIS) database. Kersavage also led the creation of the Discover NYC Landmarks map and story maps that highlight some of the city’s designated landmarks and historic districts.
Landmarks Chair Carroll praised Kersavage for her work and her experience for the position, stating that Kersavage’s professional experience in preservation and planning “brings exceptional expertise” to the Executive Director role. Carroll stated that Kersavage “has been a critical member of the LPC senior management team for the past three years, successfully leading important agency initiatives that have resulted in significant designations and more transparent processes through the use of data and technology.”
“I am honored and excited to be named Executive Director of LPC, which is not only the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation but a national leader in addressing some of the most complex issues in the field. I look forward to working with my colleagues at LPC and other agencies, as well as communities across the city to ensure that diversity continues to be reflected in our designations, that we continue to develop preservation plans in areas undergoing change, and that we further explore the intersection between preservation and sustainability,” said Landmarks Executive Director Lisa Kersavage.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2019).