JulieAnn Murphy

Historic Preservation Coordinator, Lower Merion Conservancy

How did you find your current job?
I found my current position through a posting at the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s job bank. However, I also heard about the position opening up through a fellow classmate who had previously volunteered with the organization. Then, at a Penn Lecture Series event my classmate introduced me to a board member who happened to be in the audience. I got a chance to mention that I had applied for the job and spoke briefly about my interest in the organization with that board member.

What kind of work are you doing?
I am the Historic Preservation Coordinator. My role in this position is to advance historic preservation in the community through the preparation of local and national designation nominations and the acquisition of façade easements. I am also responsible for advocacy efforts surrounding preservation including education through public events, offering testimony at local designation hearings, creating a annual watchlist, and grant writing to support those efforts.

What attracted you to the firm or job?
The most attractive attribute of this organization is that it is for the community and from the community. The ability to work with civically minded and engaged people is a wonderful treat. It is also a unique opportunity, in preservation, to work closely with people in the natural conservation and environmental education fields. The holistic nature of the organization’s mission is a natural marriage of many of the issues involved in historic preservation that are not often found in other organizations.

How did your education at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepare you for your current tasks?
My education at Penn has prepared me for this position because I gained the foundational skills to do the varied and demanding facets of my job. This, paired with the theoretical and creative bandwidth of the many assignments and projects that I worked on while at Penn has prepared me not only to work within the existing preservation domain, but to begin to think about how I can work outside of the existing preservation frameworks and platforms to encourage the conservation of historic resources.

Are there specific courses and instructors that influenced you philosophically?
There are so many courses and people that I have found valuable as I transition into a preservation professional. The detail oriented courses, like Documentation helped to hone technical skills that I need while courses like Preservation Planning and Introduction to Landscape Preservation helped me to develop and understand my personal preservation philosophy. Both, while developing different skills have proved vital for my personal and professional development.

Any top moment(s) of your education here?
One of the most integral experiences to understanding how preservation works in communities was gained through my work-study position as a Preservation Intern with the Woodlands Cemetery. That real, hands-on experience showed me not only how preservation works in an actual setting, but also what it is like to work for a small, non-profit.

What’s next?
I am excited to continue working for Lower Merion Conservancy. I look forward to applying some of the new ideas I have about how to engage more people in the philosophy, ideas, and practice of historic preservation.

Are you keeping in touch with others from your class/the Penn community?
I am. My friends at Penn were an important part of how I was able to complete the program and continue to be a source of support and information. Furthermore, we are colleagues now and even in the short time that we have been out of school we have been able to exchange information and ideas with each other as we all face different challenges in our professional careers.

Any words of advice for prospective students?
Do interesting things. If you are curious about a place, organization, or idea – see how you can be involved and learn. It is the best thing that you can do to understand what you really like to do and what gets you excited about your field.

Return to Alumni Listing