- First Name
- Donna Ann
- Last Name
- United States
- PA Pennsylvania
- Heritage Consulting Inc
- Website URL
- historic house museum, historic preservation, downtown revitalization, main street revitalization, strategic plans, heritage tourism, heritage tourism assessment, heritage tourism program planning, historic sites, preservation planning, focus groups, online surveys, executive search, books,
- Media Contact
- Additional Contact Information
- other credentials
- About Me
Donna Ann Harris is the firm principal of Heritage Consulting Inc. a Philadelphia-based Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) consulting firm that aids non-profit organizations and government agencies nationwide in the following practice areas: downtown and commercial district revitalization, historic preservation, tourism product development, and non-profit organizational development. Ms. Harris is a registered WBE in NJ, PA and DE.
Prior to starting her firm 17 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 over a million dollars.
Since 2004, Ms. Harris has spoken at every National Main Street Center annual conference, and at the International Downtown Association annual meetings in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2018 and 2019. Ms. Harris has published articles in the quarterly journal Main Street News. These include “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); “A Valiant Effort” and “What You Can Do, Lessons from Illinois Main Street,” (both in January 2005).
Ms. Harris has focused on fundraising consultations and nonprofit management issues. Her services include organizational assessments, fundraising audits, fundraising plans, special improvement district development and implementation, work plans for fundraising activities, membership, and annual gifts.
Ms. Harris has been speaking and writing about board roles and responsibilities in downtown and commercial district revitalization organizations for more than 20 years. One of the firm’s most popular presentations is “The Role of Board and Staff in Downtown Organizations.” We have written about board recruitment, orientation, and training for the National Main Street Center’s Institute and presented at state and national conferences on these topics.
In the last 10 years, Heritage Consulting Inc. has also completed Strategic Plans for the following 14 organizations, requiring extensive online consumer and stakeholder surveys: Main Street Vineland (NJ), Downtown Hightstown (NJ), Downtown Somerville Alliance (NJ), Barrow Mansion Development Corporation, Jersey City (NJ), Roxborough Development Corporation, Philadelphia, PA, Howell Main Street/Downtown Development Authority (MI), Lawrenceville Main Street (NJ), Downtown West Orange Alliance (NJ), Metuchen Downtown Alliance (NJ), The North Fifth Street Revitalization Project (Philadelphia, PA), The Ardmore Initiative (Ardmore, PA), two Strategic Plans for the Tacony Community Development Corporation (Philadelphia, PA), and Main Street Siloam Springs in Arkansas.
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. In these positions in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, she began membership drives; lead strategic planning efforts, public relations and a capital campaign; raised more than $3.75 million in grants, managed staffs ranging in size from two to ten; and was responsible for organizational, project, and endowment budgets of up to $2.6 million.
As a preservation planner with more than 30 years of professional experience, Ms. Harris has assisted citizen groups and government agencies to identify appropriate reuses for threatened historic properties that will ensure their long-term preservation and maintenance. In the past 17 years, Ms. Harris has spoken about and consulted with historic house museums around the country about alternative uses and stewardship responsibilities. AltaMira Press published her book New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses in 2007. This title has been the best-seller for the American Association for State and Local History since its publication. A second edition was published by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers/AASLH in November 2020. In the past twelve years, Ms. Harris has spoken at more than 50 national, regional, and statewide conferences about her house museum research. Ms. Harris’ chapter on “The Essential Role of Board in Reimagining Historic House Museums,” is included in Reimagining Historic House Museums: New Approaches and Proven Solutions, edited by Kenneth Turino and Max Van Balgooy for Rowman and Littlefield Publishers/AASLH in 2019.
In 2019, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia presented the Grand Jury Award for the Camden County Heritage Tourism Plan to the Camden County Historical Society for a project led by Ms. Harris over 18 months. For this project, she wrote three successful grants to the NJ Historic Trust in 2017-2018 to develop a Camden County Heritage Tourism Plan for the Camden County History Alliance, a project of the Camden County Historical Society
The firm completed work on a feasibility study in 2019 for the creation of a Revolving Fund for downtown Joplin, MO, funded by the 1772 Foundation, with Heritage Strategies, LLC. With the same partner, we completed another revolving fund feasibility study for the Columbus (OH) Landmarks Foundation in 2020. Both organizations have received investments of $100,000 from the 1772 Foundation to launch their revolving funds as a result of our feasibility studies.
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 Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She holds a BA in American Studies and Art History from the State University of New York at Albany. She received her Main Street Revitalization Credential in 2017 from the National Main Street Center/Main Street America.
- Recent Publications
Second Edition, New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers/AASLH, November 2020
New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America’s Historic Houses, AltaMira Press, 2007
“The Essential Role of Boards in Reimaging Historic House Museums,” Chapter author in Reimagining Historic House Museums: New Approaches and Proven Solutions, Kenneth C. Turino and Max Van Balgooy, 2019
“A Bakers Dozen: Thirteen Myths about Main Street Board Service” feature article, National Main Street Center, Main Street Now, winter 2015
“The Power of Thank You,” Main Street Story of the Week, National Main Street Center, July 25, 2014
“Recruiting New Board Members: 13 Documents Every Main Street Organization Should Give to Potential Candidates,” Main Street Story of the Week, National Main Street Center, February 27, 2014
“Ten Tips for Networking at the Main Street Conference,” a Blog Post for National Main Street Conference blog, January 14, 2014
Commentary piece in The Art Newspaper,“ Historic Houses Take Note: Innovate or Die,” December 5, 2013
“Procrastinators Guide to Year End Gifts, Part 1 and 2” Main Street Story of the Week, National Main Street Center, December 5 and 12, 2013
“Six Steps to a Successful Year End Giving Campaign” article fall 2013 issue of Saving Land, the quarterly magazine of the Land Trust Alliance, Washington DC
“Ten Things Board Members Can do to Improve Manager Retention” in Main Street Story of the Week, National Main Street Center, March 4, 2013
“Make More Money from Members,” article in Main Street News, National Main Street Center, August 2008
“Is a BID Feasible in Your Town? Ten Questions to Ponder,” in Main Street News, National Main Street Center, June 2007
“A Valiant Effort” and “What You Can Do and Lessons from Illinois Main Street,” two articles for Main Street News, National Main Street Center, January 2005
- Media Coverage
- Country Focus
- Expertise by Geography
- United States
- Expertise by Chronology
- Expertise by Topic
- Art & Architectural History, Museums, Public History