It’s almost a month since Jennifer Moore took over as executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, following Rich Gillespie’s retirement from the top post at the end of the year.
Apart from the 1801 fieldstone chimney collapsing at MHAA’s Rector House headquarters over Christmas, “it’s going very much as we thought,” Moore said. Interviews of candidates for the new position of public program coordinator are ongoing. The new hire will assist Education Director Kevin Pawlak with educational outreach.
Moore came up through the ranks at the historical nonprofit, rising from an executive assistant in 2012 to be director of administration and Gillespie’s right hand person.
She leads one of the state’s largest preservation organizations geographically—extending from Bull Run Mountains to the east, Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, Potomac River to the north and Rappahannock River to the south—while seeking to extend its focus and sharpen its preservation message.
Mosby leaders are happy with Moore’s selection.
Board Chairwoman Wendy Bebie said Moore’s experience and enthusiasm “make her very well qualified to take on her responsibilities as MHAA’s new executive director,” expressing confidence in her leadership skills and ability to promote the nonprofit’s preservation mission.
Gillespie, under whom Moore studied American history when he taught social studies at Loudoun Valley High School, is also enthusiastic about the transition.
“Jennifer Worcester Moore brings organization and self-discipline to an extensive understanding of the workings, mission, and institutional history of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, he said.
In particular, Gillespie praised Moore as “a great team player,” who will continue the efforts begun early last year to increase the nonprofit’s scope and involvement.
As a Loudoun native, Moore possesses a deep love for and commitment to the heritage area region and its assets and history, Gillespie said.
“I live in the house I grew up in in Hamilton,” Moore said of the 1913 farmhouse in which she, her husband and two children reside. She attended Hamilton Elementary School, middle school at Blue Ridge and high school at Valley. She studied history and historic preservation at Mary Washington College from 1999-2003.
Moore’s first job was as executive assistant for the Waterford Foundation. Following that, she did the same job at Journey Through Hallowed Ground.
An extra credit project she did in the 11th grade served her well when she came to MHAA.
“I was taking photographs of different architectural styles in the area. That got me out into the historic landscape and looking at the bigger picture. I began to understand how buildings fit in their landscapes,” Moore said in a recent interview.
“That project was a turning point. All of the sudden I realized history is not on the page, but here in my town. People are case studies—not names and dates but part of a living community,” she said.
That is true of the Mosby Heritage Area, “which is full of it,” Moore said, adding one easily can understand the progress of the land’s use—farming, to horse country, then foxhunting and open space easements.”
She has several objectives. “I plan to be out in the community a lot, talking to various organizations, establish more partnerships, and focus more on Fauquier and Clarke,” Moore said.
When she began her career, Moore said, organizations didn’t really talk together.
“There’s no reason not to—we’re all working toward the same goal,” she said.
“Rich was integral in the ‘let’s get together’ movement—that’s something I want to develop further and pursue.”
Another goal is to offer educational workshops on the value of easements in the community at large.
She wants to make MHAA administratively more competitive so that younger people see it as a good place of employment.
“I also want to expand on the value of the heritage area,” Moore said, noting that a lot of people don’t understand the concept clearly.
The large scale of the heritage area makes it rather amorphous, but its features—historic architecture, newer buildings all set in open landscape, rural enterprises, wineries and breweries, stone walls, fences and bridges, and the history of the area—all are of value and appreciated by visitors, many of whom come out from the Washington, DC, area, Moore said.
“I want to sharpen the image, to create a brand that people can understand,” she said.
“I want to teach kids and adults that they need to care; they just can’t drive past a field or a house and not see that it was Gen. Lee who stayed in that house.”