Secretary Jewell honors historic preservation leaders for work in their communities

Left to right: Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior; Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, National Park Service; Nancy Hiestand, Program Manager, Housing and Neighborhood Development, City of Bloomington, Indiana; Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; Melvena Heisch, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, Oklahoma Historical Society; Loretta Jackson-Kelly, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Director, Hualapai Indian Tribe; Brian Jordan, Federal Preservation Officer, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of the Interior; Denise Ryan, Deputy Director, National Park Service. Photo/NPS

Left to right: Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior; Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, National Park Service; Nancy Hiestand, Program Manager, Housing and Neighborhood Development, City of Bloomington, Indiana; Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; Melvena Heisch, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, Oklahoma Historical Society; Loretta Jackson-Kelly, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Director, Hualapai Indian Tribe; Brian Jordan, Federal Preservation Officer, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of the Interior; Denise Ryan, Deputy Director, National Park Service. Photo/NPS

WASHINGTON - Four preservation officers received the prestigious Secretary of the Interior's Historic Preservation Award June 17, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., for their outstanding efforts to protect America's diverse cultural and historical heritage for the education and enjoyment of future generations.

These individuals were recognized by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell who said they are helping to preserve special historic and cultural places across the country. Jewell commended the awardees for their extraordinary individual creativity and expertise in the preservation of a wide range of historic and cultural resources, including training programs for tribal members to learn about Hualapai culture and language; the restoration of buildings damaged or destroyed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; incorporating the preservation of historic structures into local development and revitalization; and enhancing federal preservation efforts in marine archaeology.

"As we approach the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act this October, we are reminded that none of the impactful programs enabled by the Act would be possible without the hard work, passion and professionalism of individuals who have devoted their careers to the preservation of our nation's history and culture," Jewell said. "It is through their efforts that future generations will know the places that tell our nation's stories."

Created by the National Historic Preservation Act, the awards are the only congressionally-mandated, cabinet-level recognition program acknowledging the dedication and expertise of historic preservation professionals within federal, tribal, state and local government agencies.

Winners of the 2015 Historic Preservation Awards:

Federal Preservation Office Category - Dr. Brian Jordan, , Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of the Interior

Jordan has been a tireless advocate in the establishment and stewardship of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's first Federal Historic Preservation program. His efforts to identify some of the most challenging historic properties, submerged paleocultural landscapes, have played a critical role in the preservation of such places and elevated the voice of tribal culture on the Outer Continental Shelf. Dr. Jordan has personally stewarded an exceptional and significant legacy of historic preservation activities, bringing the agency to the forefront of marine archeology.

State Historic Preservation Officer Category - Melvena Heisch, Oklahoma Historical Society

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Heisch's career with the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office at the Oklahoma Historical Society. During these four decades, Heisch worked hard to stay committed through patience, perseverance, and tenacity. When she first started, she emerged in a new career field in a fragmented place without much of a sense of history or pride of heritage. But, on April 19, 1995, though severely wounded along with many of her staff members in the Oklahoma City bombing, Heisch emerged as a leader to help the city recover. Using her knowledge of historic preservation, she helped influence the retention and restoration of many of the 324 buildings damaged or destroyed in the 16-block blast radius.

Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Category - Loretta Jackson-Kelly, Hualapai Tribal Nation

Jackson-Kelly has spent more than half her life working for the Hualapai Tribal Nation where she has exemplified her love for her culture through preservation. Her knowledge and leadership has been integral in developing educational training programs for tribal members to learn about Hualapai culture and language, helping them better understand and integrate traditional and modern lifeways of the Hualapai people. A staunch advocate of oral history and language immersion programs, Jackson-Kelly defined her career as someone who is always encouraging and open to discuss her experience as a traditional Hualapai woman in the field of cultural resources management. She has paved the way for the next generation to follow in her footsteps, empowering young people to overcome obstacles.

Certified Local Government Coordinator Category - Nancy Hiestand, city of Bloomington, Indiana

Hiestand's efforts to protect historic structures, while properly accommodating and encouraging new uses and development have helped make Bloomington the culturally and economically vibrant community that it is today. As the preservation officer for the city of Bloomington for 22 years, Hiestand has greatly advanced the cause of preservation in her community, helped the city fulfill its duties under the National Historic Preservation Act, opened the eyes of thousands of citizens, appealed to the economic sense of preservation, and broadened local support through creative educational efforts. During this time, Bloomington has continually been at the forefront of the Certified Local Government program thanks to Hiestand's dedicated leadership, hard work, innovation, vision and cooperative spirit.

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