Winter 2021 – President General Message

Winter 2021 – President General Message

It is with bittersweet feelings that I write my last President General’s newsletter message. To say that the last year has been challenging and turbulent is an understatement of immeasurable proportions. Undaunted by obstacles, CDA maintained a sterling standard of excellence in fiscal conservation, communication, claims processing, collaborative virtual programs, and continuation of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum’s (MVHM) robust, if remote, educational offerings.


Prudent financial decision-making dictated difficult cutbacks resulting in only three remaining full-time employees: Executive Director Deb McWilliams, Assistant Director Nicole Scholet – both of whom have performed masterfully under often suboptimal circumstances – as well as Museum Director Terri Daly, who diligently oversees and safeguards our historic 1799 building. While running a fiscally-sound “tight ship,” our raison d’être remains undiminished and our predecessors would be proud of such responsible and compassionate stewardship. We have been mindful of our history, traditions, and shared commitment throughout. And, given our almost-131 year-old history, I have constantly benefited being reminded of our critical mission and vision.


The Society’s Mission Statement:
CDA honors American history through preservation and education.


The Society’s Vision Statement:
CDA strives to be a relevant international resource which promotes the study of American history and the best practice of historic preservation.


Zoom programs and meetings have connected us during these times of quarantine and sequestering. Your Society’s committees and Board of Managers have met frequently using available technology and impressive ingenuity. Business has continued as usual, if somewhat unusually.


The Society’s membership and claims efforts have adapted yet thrived given multiple hurdles and limitations. This is largely thanks to our malleable staff guided by Membership Chairman Caroline McLain and Registrar General Laura Ramsay. I am pleased to report we have received a record number of supplemental submissions, and, with our new “Colonial Women of Distinction” initiative, many more are rolling in. I am thrilled to have completed the very first one under this new initiative on the service of my fourth great-grandmother, Mary Marshall Tabb Bolling (Mrs. Robert Bolling, III), of Virginia.

Insignia of PG Brantley Knowles featuring Ancestor Bars for Robert Bolling and Mary Tabb Bolling.

Mary Marshall Tabb Bolling with daughter Marianna. Portrait by John Durand, private collection.

With my chapter visits drawing to a close, please know it has been a true joy to meet with our vibrant members in the United States and abroad. I had a lovely February visit with Chapter XXXVI-Texas Hill Country and delivered a lively and well-received presentation. I look forward to a virtual March visit with Chapter XIII-Kansas City, where I will offer a similar program.


I regret that we are unable to gather in New York for our 2021 Annual Meeting; however, we will meet by Zoom, at 2 pm Eastern on May 3, 2021, at which time my three-year term will conclude. It has been the honor of my life to have served as your 38th President General and I humbly thank the Society’s members and leaders for this remarkable privilege and opportunity.


I wish each of you good health and safety as the vaccine hopefully – and thankfully – puts the COVID-19 pandemic behind us.


With warmest regards,


CDA President General 2018-2021