Awarding the Next Generation of Preservation Professionals

This year, the Preservation League is pleased to announce the launch of our new Zabar Family Scholarship program.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Zabar Family, three scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded annually to student members of the League. A review panel met earlier this spring to select this year's winners. Each of these deserving students will be recognized during our Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards on May 9.

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Tabitha O’Connell is a graduate student majoring in Historic Preservation at SUNY’s University at Buffalo. Her thesis project is a survey of the historic architectural resources of the hamlets of Erie County. “I hope to bring some of these lesser-known places to light, illuminating their architectural value and the roles they have played in the region’s history, which will hopefully help others to see their value and prompt any needed preservation efforts.” Her academic reference noted the following: “On a rare occasion a professor meets a student who shows unique ability and potential to contribute to his or her field. In 2018-2019 I had the opportunity to meet such a student. I have been teaching design studios, history and historic preservation for the past 28 years, and have found Tabitha to be among the top 5% of all the students I have encountered.” Tabitha plans to use the scholarship award to cover the cost of visiting hamlets, historical societies and libraries throughout Erie County and to purchase needed reference materials.


Camille Sasena is enrolled in the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at Pratt Institute. In addition to her academic studies, she is currently serving as Vice Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission of Westwood, NJ, where she is a resident. The focus of Tabitha’s graduate research is exploring “the intersection of heritage tourism and the sustainability of National Park Service sites and gateway communities.” Her academic reference noted that “she brings great energy and creativity to the challenging work that she encounters in both academic courses and in the preservation field, where she has already made her mark.” In December, Camille attended a National Summit on Gateway Communities, sponsored by Scenic America and the Conservation Fund. “This conference exposed me to the most pressing issues and biggest priorities for gateway communities in light of over-tourism at neighboring National Park sites. The information is crucial to my research and has set the stage for my work to be highly relevant for gateway communities and the National Park Service in addressing the issue of over-tourism, sustainability and authenticity at present and in the future.” Scholarship funds will cover Camille’s travel and conference attendance costs.


Ryan Zeek is a second-year graduate student in the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University. His research focuses on American Bicentennial projects undertaken by the National Park Service in Philadelphia, notably Robert Venturi’s Franklin Court and the Graff House where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Ryan’s academic reference notes that he is “a self-motivated, highly intelligent student with an excellent work ethic. I expect that he will contribute to the preservation field once he has finished school.” Ryan intends to use his scholarship award to help defray the costs of conducting his research in Philadelphia.