The Heart of Danville Main Street program started off the New Year with a new executive director.
Bethany Rogers, a Danville native and the daughter of Buck and Jan Rogers, stepped into her new role Jan. 3. Brenda Willoughby, interim director, will remain in that position until the end of this month.
Local officials, including Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership Director Jody Lassiter and Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney, both expressed excitement about Rogers’ new role.
“I am so happy to welcome Bethany to the EDP team,” Lassiter said. “Our community is fortunate to bring home a professional with her education and experience to manage the Heart of Danville. Her qualifications immediately place her at the front rank among Main Street executives.”
McKinney hopes Rogers’ historic preservation experience will breathe new life into Constitution¿Square Park. Rogers worked in historic preservation in New Orleans, La., for about 10 years.
“Danville does have a special sense of community, and I feel honored to have an active role in protecting, promoting, and enhancing it,” Rogers said.
Rogers, a 1992 Danville High School and 1996¿Centre College graduate, said she has always loved her hometown but needed to leave for a while to “see the world.”
“My travels and work and experiences led me to become very passionate about unique community character, vitality, and sustainability,” she said.
While away from Danville, Rogers earned a master's degree in urban and regional planning, with an emphasis in historic preservation and living heritage conservation, from the University of New Orleans and the Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada. She recently completed a doctorate in a combined geography and anthropology at Louisiana State University.
During her years as a graduate student, Rogers worked as an architectural historian and historic preservation specialist for cultural resource management firms, conducted National Register evaluation, developed property histories, and wrote Section 106 reports.
She also taught geography and anthropology at Louisiana State University as well as related courses at the Tulane University's School of Architecture.
While working at Tulane, Rogers collaborated with the university as director of the Cornerstones Project, an organization created to document and advocate for the overlooked and threatened landmarks of New Orleans.
“New Orleans is an amazing laboratory of preserved cultural heritage and architectural resources,” Rogers said. “After Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, it was a powerful place to learn about community perseverance and recovery.”
While in New Orleans, she worked as a contract historic preservation specialist for R.C. Goodwin and Associates. Initially,¿Rogers planned to spend her career in New Orleans or a similar city. However, she realized coming back to her hometown was a good fit for her career path.
“When the Heart of Danville director position opened, my enthusiasm for the position grew as I reflected on the opportunity,” Rogers said. “I realized this job was a chance to take all this knowledge and experience I've accumulated since I left home and put it to use in the place I know better than anywhere in the world."
Bill Pollom, chairman of the Heart of Danville board of directors, said Rogers is more than prepared to dedicate her time to restoring and preserving historic sites.
"We are very pleased and fortunate to have Dr. Rogers return home in the capacity of executive director for the Heart of Danville," Pollom said. "Among other attributes, she brings a wealth of historical preservation experience."
Heart of Danville hires director
Heart of Danville hires director (January 11, 2013)