Foundation of Historical Louisiana selects Fairleigh Cook Jackson as second director of organization _lowres

Fairleigh Cook Jackson

Some people are drawn to Louisiana historical preservation by way of architecture, while others are concerned about stories staying intact, the new leader of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana said Thursday.

But Fairleigh Cook Jackson said regardless of what inspires people to care about preserving historic buildings, her focus will be encouraging more young people to join the movement to preserve history.

Jackson, named as the foundation’s executive director this week, will replace Carolyn Bennett, who held the position for 40 years before announcing in February that she would step down.

The not-for-profit organization uses education and advocacy to promote historical preservation across the state.

“There’s a lot of interest in Louisiana; we’re a one-of-a-kind place; we’re kind of standalone,” Jackson said. “And telling our story is so important, and we do that through our history.”

Jackson has served as the director of member services for the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, which is how she became familiar with the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

She said a combination of people skills, business skills and organizational skills are necessary to enter her line of work. The foundation also leans heavily on fundraising, as its money mainly comes from membership dues and fundraising.

“Preservation is gaining more attention for younger people,” Jackson said. “We’re starting to really see the benefits of it, and there needs to be some new energy put into the importance of preservation.”

Another area of focus for Jackson will be finding ways to stop duplicating services across the state, as well as getting more real estate agents and architects interested in preservation work.

She is only the second executive director of the foundation in its 52-year history. The group served without an official leader until Bennett was hired.

Jackson has previously worked for the LSU Museum of Art, the Community Fund for the Arts and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge. She will begin her position as executive director on Sept. 15.

“We start with our buildings and what the buildings say about us,” she said. “Everybody has a different reason for feeling like preservation is important.”