April 13, 2020

M.A.H.P. Anniversary Series: Aimee Jorjani, M.A.H.P. '12

Aimee Jorjani, M.A.H.P. '12, has worked on a number of great projects in her career. She contributed to two efforts to reauthorize the federal Historic Preservation Fund and helped to introduce the Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act in 2007.

To celebrate the M.A. in Historic Preservation Program's 25th anniversary and the success of its alumnae/i, the Welch Center will be interviewing some of the program's graduate to gain insight on what they love about the program, what they learned in the program, and how they are working to preserve places in a rapidly changing world. 

This week's feature is: 
Aimee Jorjani, M.A.H.P. '12
Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)

What excites you most about the field of historic preservation?

I’m a bit old school in that sense and this stems from growing up in the middle of the old industrial city of Milwaukee, but I get excited about the adapted reuse of older buildings. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my hometown and the good and creative reuses that have sparked new life in various areas. I always saw beauty in those dirty bricks as a child and am excited to go home and see others do too now.

What is the most interesting/unusual/challenging project you’ve worked on?

I’ve contributed to two efforts now to reauthorize the federal Historic Preservation Fund (2006 and 2016). Also, in the fall of 2007, I helped Mrs. Bush and then-Senator Clinton to introduce the Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act (Senate Report 110-365), and we presented together on stage. It later became law, and the two programs are permanently authorized to receive appropriated funds and even later became the topic of my master’s thesis. Another challenging project was achieving Senate confirmation to become chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which took about 20 months. 

What is your favorite thing about the M.A.H.P. program at Goucher?

It made my current position possible by justifying my qualifications despite experience. Thanks to it, I comply with the Secretary’s Historic Preservation Professional Qualification Standards. My favorite thing, however, is that all of the professors I had were those that worked in the real world in the field and had fascinating careers to learn from. Between that and the students, it was one of the best networks I’ve formed.

What is the most important thing you have learned from the M.A.H.P. program?

I enjoyed every single class, but I can attest to the thesis process as being important for my experience with the program. The pre-thesis course helped get it on track and I adore my thesis advisor to this day, Hugh Miller. I still use information gathered from my thesis almost 10 years later. Also, the on-campus time period was invaluable to learn from both the professors and students alike.

How has the field of historic preservation changed over the years?

I had my start in the field with more of a heritage tourism focus. Prior to that, my interest began with an intrigue with architecture and learning about different styles and periods. I’d still love to have the title of “architectural historian” someday. I have to say that in the past dozen or so years and thanks to more engagement with the not-so-usual preservation suspects, more and more stories are being told through preservation, as well as other ways. Preservation has especially changed since it could not be a more broader topic than what it had been, which has been more brick and mortar focused. Every single one of those facets within the field is fascinating to me, but sometimes preservationists bite off more than they can chew and instead need to collaborate better. Along those lines, I’m guessing that the course list from when I started in 2008 has changed. 

How has the M.A.H.P. program grown in 25 years? What changes are you most proud to have seen?

I have to admit I need to follow it better, but the use of technology to make it possible for folks with full-time jobs or families to raise is what I’m most proud of because it was the only way for me to be able to do it. I’m also proud that the professors are from all over the country, which also adds to the student experience.

How are you working to preserve places in a rapidly changing world? What are the challenges in doing this work?

Using technology to better document historic resources and make it more available. I’m trying to make the ACHP’s website more user friendly to be better educated on federal process.

What historic places do you want to see preserved in the years to come? Why?

As an Olympic nut (especially winter), I’d love to see Olympic sites preserved and interpreted but also used.

In your opinion, what is the future of the historic preservation field? Where would you like to see the program in the next 25 years?

I’d love to see more opportunities for traditional trades training and a way to be certified where it is widely recognized. I do wish our program could have focused more on preservation technology and craft techniques for a better foundation.