Introducing Our New Executive Director!

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Preservation Durham is pleased to welcome Chris Laws as its new executive director.

Laws, a lifelong resident of Durham, has just completed his PhD in public history from N. C. State University. He has a master’s degree in public history from N. C. Central University, and an undergraduate degree from East Carolina University.

Tom Miller, president of Preservation Durham, said, “Chris is a perfect fit for Preservation Durham. His credentials are impressive.  He loves Durham and has deep roots here.  He knows our community’s history and its people.  He is in tune with Durham’s aspirations.”

Dr. Charles Johnson, assistant professor and director of the Public History Program at N. C. Central University, said “Kudos Preservation Durham! Dr. Chris Laws is a homerun hire! Chris is a proud Eagle and Durhamite who will bring an open mind, infectious enthusiasm, and expertise to all that he does.”

Preservation Durham’s board of directors approved Laws’ hiring Feb. 22, concluding a more than three-month search, and he has already begun his duties.  As executive director, he will help lead the organization’s advocacy and fund-raising, administer its office in the historic Chesterfield Building in downtown Durham, and help lead its education programming and public outreach.

“Durham is an exceptional community,” Laws said. “Durham is a place where we can use our past to inform our present, and build a better future.  I look forward to working to fulfill Preservation Durham’s goal of promoting the community’s diverse cultural heritage by preserving the spaces and stories that help us build our shared collective identity.”

Laws is vice-president of the Duke Homestead Education and History Corporation and is chair of its Interpretive Opportunities Committee.  He has been the lead researcher multiple projects, including a community history of businesses in Durham’s Hayti neighborhood during the mid-20th century, and a museum exhibit based on tobacco television advertisements. 

He is a member of the Southern Historical Association and of the North Carolina Literary and Historical  Association. Before starting his postgraduate studies in public history, Laws taught social studies in Durham Public Schools.

If you haven’t had the chance to meet Chris yet, we hope you’ll reach out to get to know him soon.

Welcome aboard, Chris!