Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

New Faces and Places in Environmental Review

Emma outside the East Shore YMCA (1932) on North Front Street in Harrisburg.

Emma outside the East Shore YMCA (1932) on North Front Street in Harrisburg.

As we are poised to ring in a new year, we wanted to make you aware of new developments in the review of state and federal projects that have occurred within our office over the past several months. In August, we said a fond farewell to Ann Safley who retired after 23 years of service. Ann most recently served as the above ground reviewer for projects in the western region of the state. Ann’s knowledge and expertise of state and federal projects and western Pennsylvania will be missed!

In October, we brought on our newest staff member, Emma Diehl, to serve as an above ground reviewer. Barbara Frederick subsequently shifted review responsibilities to the west, and Emma assumed review of projects affecting above ground resources in the eastern region. This map reflects the current regional environmental review assignments.

We are excited to add Emma as the newest member of our staff! To get to know her better, we asked Emma to share a bit about her past experience and personal interests as well as her perspective on her new job.

 What attracted you to this position and what aspects of your past experience best prepared you for the job?

Through a serendipitous turn of events, I was looking to take a new career path and this opportunity came along at the right time. As a consultant, I had worked with many of the staff at the BHP from the “other side” of the Section 106 process and welcomed an opportunity to be a part of this great team of great minds. Since coming aboard, I honestly have learned something new every single day – whether it be from my co-workers, the agencies or their representatives, or from the public. My life as a consultant for the past 10+ years definitely provided a solid foundation from which to serve in this position. On a daily basis, I was juggling multiple projects for a wide variety of agencies, gaining invaluable experience in all steps of the Section 106 and State History Code processes as well as evaluating properties for the National Register.  From bridges to barns, from railroads to rowhouses, and from monuments to mile markers, I feel fortunate to have documented, evaluated, and assessed the effects of projects on a multitude of resources throughout the Commonwealth.

What made you choose preservation as a career path?

Emma during a recent visit to Building 543, the former Pipe and Copppersmith Shop, of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Emma during a recent visit to Building 543, the former Pipe and Copppersmith Shop, of the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The Fortune and Fame…said no preservationist ever… Sadly once I realized I couldn’t make a worthwhile career as a U2 groupie, professional pie eater, or lucrative lip sync-er, I had to look elsewhere. Seriously though, all kidding aside, I was bitten by the preservation bug early on. Growing up in Adams County, PA, most seem to either love or loathe history and needless to say, I was of the former. I blame my parents for making me grow up on an 1846 Pennsylvania farmstead that they lovingly and painstakingly have restored and preserved over their past 45 years of ownership. Then I was so lucky to find amazing mentors at Gettysburg National Military Park where I spent four summers as an intern. The lynchpin was when I was getting ready to graduate with a history degree from Penn State. I knew I didn’t want to become a lawyer, architect, or teacher (all professions I might add that would come in handy for my daily job as a project reviewer). At the time, my favorite professor (who just so happens to be the author of our statewide agricultural context) steered me toward the graduate program in the Center of Historic Architecture and Design at the University of Delaware. From there, I was hooked.

 What have you found to be the most unexpected or challenging part of the job so far? Most exciting/rewarding?

As a consultant you tend to think you’ve seen it all but I had no idea! The sheer volume of projects that come in on a daily basis for review is both challenging and rewarding. Another exciting aspect of this job is the ability to engage in the true spirit and intent of Section 106 as a consultative process. Trying to balance agency needs with preservation concerns can be a daunting task for applicants and oftentimes Section 106 comes into play too late in the planning process. I look forward to working with agencies, organizations, and the public even if it ultimately results in agreeing to disagree.  I thoroughly love meeting new people and seeing parts of Pennsylvania that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to see.

Something fun/quirky that you like to do in your spare time or that others might not know about you

Well as a mother of two boys under the age of 4, I don’t have much spare time. We love all things out of doors (especially dirt) and caring for our 14-year old Pit-bull and six cats. But every once in a blue moon, I do find time for a good book (support your local library!!!!!), movie, or binge-watching “Whose Line is it Anyway” in between the Dr. Seuss and Curious George.

1 Comment

  1. Winona Peterson

    Glad to have you on board Emma!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial