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Middleton Place Names New President And CEO

May 06, 2024 11:25AM ● By David Dykes

Middleton Place Foundation announced that Dana Hand Evans has been selected as the organization’s next president and CEO.

Evans has extensive experience in historic preservation, public history, and museum management. Identified through a nationwide executive search, Evans will begin in August 2024. 

In making the announcement, Chairman Mike Laughlin cited the board of trustees’ enthusiastic endorsement of Dana as the Foundation’s next leader. "Dana brings a wealth of knowledge, vision, and a career-long commitment to historic preservation and public history," Laughlin said. "We're thrilled  she will lead Middleton Place Foundation into its next chapter." 

Charles Duell, founder of Middleton Place Foundation, echoes that enthusiasm for the organization’s new CEO. “Dana brings new zest to the Foundation's mission of preservation, research, and education,"  Duell said, “and we are excited to see Middleton Place, a national treasure, reach new heights under her leadership." 

Evans is joining Middleton Place at a notable time in its history. This year Middleton Place kicked off a year-long celebration to commemorate the Foundation's 50th anniversary and celebrate its long standing commitment to inspiring positive change through an understanding of American history. Moreover, the completion of a forward-thinking master plan by the renowned landscape architect Thomas Woltz has provided a visionary roadmap to move Middleton Place into the future. 

"It is an honor to serve Middleton Place Foundation as its next President and CEO," Evans said, “and I look forward to working with its talented staff and dedicated Board to build on past successes and forge new ones going forward. I am especially excited to join Middleton Place at such a pivotal time as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary and strategically looks to the future.”  

Evans for 14 years was executive director and CEO of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) in Winchester, Virginia, a year-round regional history complex encompassing three historic houses, eight acres of formal gardens, 200 acres of working farm, a 50,000 square-foot history museum and administrative center designed by architect Michael Graves, and Virginia’s largest art park, with 85 acres of hiking, walking, and art trails.

Working with a board, staff, donors, and community partners, over her tenure at the MSV Evans created a new vision, mission, and brand for the MSV and then developed and implemented five-year strategic and 10-year master plans.

Today, the MSV greets more than 200,000 visitors annually, has a membership of 4,200 households, and is a transformative gathering place for shared ideas that officials say has enriched the local and regional  community. 

Earlier in her career Evans was director and curator of Wilton House Museum of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia and then executive director of both, located in Richmond, Virginia. Before that, she served on staff at Agecroft Hall and Gardens and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, both in Richmond. 

Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in art history, painting and printmaking from La Salle University, Philadelphia; and a master’s degree in art history, historical studies, and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).

She is a certified fund-raising executive in the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and, in the  museum field, a Fellow of the Museum Leadership Institute of Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University, California. Educational training has included study abroad at Lorenzo de Medici  Academy of Arts, Florence, Italy.  

Her consultations have included adjunct instructor at Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia, and accreditation peer reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums.  

Located on the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina, Middleton Place National Historic Landmark has a history spanning three centuries of one family — with one member a signer of the Declaration of Independence — and including the essential stories and contributions of over 3,200 enslaved people who lived and labored on Middleton properties. 

Today, Middleton Place encompasses 110 acres and includes America's oldest landscaped gardens, a house museum, stable yards, and Eliza's House, an African American freedman’s dwelling. The site also includes a restaurant, retail shops, and the Inn at Middleton Place.

More than 100,000 people yearly visit  Middleton Place, where interpretive guides, artisan craftspeople, and educators offer authentic experiences that encourage people to deepen and broaden their perspectives through an exploration of American history. 

In 1974, Charles H. P. Duell founded Middleton Place Foundation to safeguard the legacy of the  Middleton Place National Historic Landmark. The Foundation, a public 501(c)3 non-profit educational trust, seeks to connect people with the past to inspire a better future through a deeper understanding of American history.

In fulfillment of this mission, the Foundation preserves and operates Middleton National Historic Landmark and the historic Edmondston-Alston House, located on the harbor in  Charleston’s historic High Battery. The Foundation also sponsors the Middleton Scholars Education Assistance Fund, which awards higher education scholarships to benefit the Middleton Place African American descendant community.  

In 2022, Middleton Place Foundation staff and board of trustees engaged landscape architect Thomas Woltz and his team at Nelson Byrd Woltz to work on a comprehensive landscape plan for Middleton Place Foundation.

The plan, funded by Orville Gordon Browne Foundation Inc., in honor of  Christopher H. Browne, and the Bessent-Freeman Family Foundation, will provide a roadmap for Middleton Place for the next 50 years. 


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