Donna Ann Harris is the principal of Heritage Consulting Inc., a Philadelphia-based certified WBE consulting firm in NJ, DE and PA  that works nationwide providing training, research, coaching and consulting services on historic preservation, audience development, volunteer management, heritage tourism, program planning and organizational development issues for historic sites, downtowns, and community organizations. See her current vita here. 

Prior to starting her firm 19 years ago, Ms. Harris was State Coordinator for the Illinois Main Street program for two years and the manager of the Illinois suburban Main Street program for four years.  During her tenure as State Coordinator, Ms. Harris served 56 Illinois Main Street communities, led a staff of 12, and managed a budget of $1.1 million dollars.  

Since 2002, Ms. Harris has worked with state, countywide and local Main Street programs in 28 states.  She has made 26 presentations at the National Main Street Center annual conference in the last 15 years and at the International Downtown Association annual meetings in 2019, 2018, 2013, 2009 and 2008.  Ms. Harris has published six feature articles in the National Main Street Center’s quarterly journal, Main Street Now: “A Bakers Dozen:  Thirteen Myths about Main Street Boards” (Winter 2015); “Illinois Main Street Back on Track: Case Studies” (July/August 2012); “Make Your Case: Triple Your Membership” (September/October 2010); "Make More Money from Members," (August, 2008); “Is a BID Feasible for Your Town?  Ten Questions to Ponder,” (April 2007) and “A Valiant Effort” and “What You Can Do, Lessons From Illinois Main Street,” (January 2005). Ms. Harris is an active contributor to the Main Street Center’s blog Main Street Weekly and recorded a webinar for the National Main Street Center in September 2015 on Year-End Giving. Ms. Harris was a featured instructor at the Main Street America Institute and spoke on Comprehensive Revenue Strategies in March 2016 and again in March 2017. She re

Prior to her Main Street career, Ms. Harris spent 15 years as an executive director of three start-ups and two mature historic preservation organizations.  During these positions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Illinois, she began membership drives, lead strategic planning efforts, organized conferences, public relations efforts and led a capital campaign to purchase an open space parcel.  Ms. Harris raised more than $3.75 million in grants and sponsorship dollars in her early career. During this period she managed staff ranging in size from two to eight, and was responsible for organizational, project and endowment budgets of up to $2.6 million.

As a preservation planner with more than 35 years of professional experience, Ms. Harris has assisted citizen groups and government agencies in identifying appropriate reuses for threatened historic properties to ensure the long-term preservation and maintenance of the site.  In the past fifteen years, Ms. Harris has spoken about and consulted with historic house museums around the country, alternative uses and stewardship responsibilities.  Ms. Harris provides reuse plans, feasibility studies, case studies and business plans for program expansion, reuse or repurposing of historic sites and house museums for clients nationwide. 

AltaMira Press published her book, New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses, in 2007. A second edition was published in November 2020 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers/AASLH. This has been the best selling title for the American Association for State and Local History since its pubication in 2007. Ms. Harris has published articles about reuse of historic house museums in History News, the quarterly magazine of the American Association for State and Local History and Forum Journal, the quarterly journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  In the past ten years, Ms. Harris has spoken at more than 50 national, regional and statewide conferences about her house museum research. Ms. Harris published a chapter "The Essential Role of the Board in Reimagining Historic House Museums" in Reimagining Historic House Museums: New Approaches and Proven Solutions, edited by Kenneth Turino and Max van Balgooy. The  book was published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers/AASLH in 2019.

Noteworthy recent historic preservation projects include:

For the last nineteen years, Heritage Consulting Inc. has undertaken heritage tourism assessments and plans.  The major work product for the Camden County History Alliance was a year long Heritage Tourism Plan and nine day event Camden County History Week.  We produced heritage tourism assessments for the Benjamin Cooper Tavern in Camden NJ, the Isaac Pearson House in Hamilton Township NJ, the Olde Stone House Village in Washington Township NJ, the Glover Fulling Mill Park in Haddon Heights NJ; the Jacobus Vanderveer House in Bedminster, NJ; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Burlington, NJ; Jacob’s Chapel and Colemantown Meeting House in Mt. Laurel, NJ; Woodbridge Township NJ; Barrow Mansion Development Corporation in Jersey City, NJ and for Main Street Lansing IA.

Heritage Consulting Inc. has conducted audience research projects (surveys, focus groups, interviews) for preservation organizations, including the Roebling Museum in Florence NJ, the Camden County History Alliance, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Delaware County (PA) Planning Commission, Preservation New Jersey, Wyck in Philadelphia, and the Whitesbog Preservation Trust, NJ.

Over the last five years, Heritage Consulting Inc. has produced feasibility studies for preservation organizations interested in starting or expanding a Revolving Fund in their community.  We have worked with A. Elizabeth Watson of Heritage Strategies LLC on three feasibility studies for clients in Columbus OH, Joplin MO and recently completed a report for Denver CO. Both Joplin and Columbus went on to win $100,000 grants from the 1772 Foundation to begin their revolving fund or endangered properties programs.  Most recently Ms. Harris was asked to chair the Revolving Loan Fund Committee of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia which is starting a Homeowner Revolving Loan Fund in 2024. In 2023, we assisted the Newport Restoration Foundation in Newport RI to begin an easement program, again with A. Elizabeth Watson as our partner. 

Heritage Consulting Inc. has also undertaken extensive online consumer and stakeholder surveys for downtown revitalization clients such as Main Street Vineland (NJ), Downtown Hightstown (NJ), Downtown Somerville Alliance (NJ), Roxborough Development Corporation Philadelphia PA, Howell Main Street/Downtown Development Authority (MI), Lawrenceville Main Street (NJ), and Downtown West Orange Alliance (NJ), Metuchen Downtown Alliance (NJ), The Ardmore Initiative in Ardmore PA, the Tacony Community Development Corporation in Philadelphia PA (twice), and for the Roxborough Development Corporation in Philadelphia.

Design Guidelines have been completed for five clients:  Haddon Heights NJ, Seaford DE, Laurel DE, Milford DE, and Georgetown DE. Our Design Guidelines for Haddon Heights NJ won the 2022 Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia Grand Jury Award, and in 2021 won the Preservation New Jersey Award for Preservation Commissions.

Heritage Consulting Inc. has conducted and created reports on extensive consumer and stakeholder surveys for downtown revitalization clients such as the Siloam Springs Main Street in AR, the Ardmore Initative in Ardmore PA, the Metuchen Downtown Alliance NJ*, a second strategic plan for the  Roxbrough Development Corporation in  Philadelphia PA, a third strategic plan for the Tacony CDC in Philadalphia PA,  Lawrenceville NJ Main Street, Downtown West Orange NJ Alliance, Roxborough Development Corporation in Philadelphia PA, Main Street Vineland, NJ, Montclair Center, NJ*, Howell Main Street DDA in Michigan*, Ortonville DDA in Ortonville MI, and the Downtown Somerville Alliance, NJ. Three of our clients (noted with a *) have gone on to win the Great American Main Street Award after working with us on their Strategic Plan. 

Heritage Consulting Inc. has completed strategic plans for 18 clients includinng 12 for Main Street New Jersey communities as well as for downtown clients in IL, MI, AR and Philadelphia, PA. 

Ms. Harris has presented workshops on a variety of fundraising and board management topics at national and state Main Street conferences for the last twenty years.

Ms. Harris earned a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University in New York City and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Fels Center of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  She holds a BA in both American Studies and Art History from the State University of New York at Albany. Ms. Harris is a Certified Main Street Manager, a credential from the National Main Street Center. Ms. Harris’ experience meets, and exceeds, the minimum professional qualifications defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 61, Appendix A) for an architectural historian

See Ms. Harris' complete vita here.   Connect with Donna on Linkedin. Update April 2024