Montpelier Names Eola Lewis Dance as President & CEO
Career work demonstrates a commitment to the preservation of cultural landscapes, historic buildings, and key stories in telling the history of the making of America
Press release date: June 28, 2023
Orange, VA - The Montpelier Foundation (TMF), which operates James Madison’s historic home in Virginia, announced today that it has selected Eola Lewis Dance as its President and Chief Executive Officer, effective August 14, 2023.
Dance has served as a public historian for more than 20 years with the National Park Service and in the nonprofit world. As Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument, a 565-acre cultural landscape, she guided research, operations, programming, maintenance, and economic sustainability. She identified, developed, and supported state and local entities in applying for grants; served as federal lead in the planning and implementation of philanthropic partnerships; and developed and managed agreements, reporting, and coordination with the National Park Foundation in planning for major gifts and prospective donors. Most recently, she was the executive director of Black Lunch Table. Responsible for its fiscal management and strategic vision, she organized literal and metaphorical lunch tables, bringing together artists and communities in dialogue around issues of race in recent history and legacies of the past.
Her career work demonstrates a commitment to the preservation of historic buildings, cultural landscapes, and key stories in telling the history of the making of America. A recognized leader in descendant community engagement, she has led global, national, and Virginia initiatives exploring topics of freedom, race, gender, and class through research, preservation, and storytelling.
“We are thrilled beyond belief to welcome Eola Dance as our new President and CEO,” said Hasan Kwame Jeffries, chair of the board of directors of TMF. “Montpelier is a national treasure, and Eola has the experience, expertise, enthusiasm, and vision to lead Montpelier to new and exciting heights.”
Eola Lewis Dance
“I am honored to lead the Montpelier team and board as the site continues to make advancement in telling the full history of the Madisons, the African American experience, and the making of America,” stated Dance. “As a country, this time of year, we reflect on the American Revolution and the foundation of American ideals. Montpelier is an ideal place for all to explore this rich history.”
Dance has also served as an interpreter, resource manager, and ethnographer, supporting other distinguished sites, including the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (Park Ranger) and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site (Site Manager).
Dance received a BA in History from Southern University, an MA in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a graduate certificate in Environmental Policy from The George Washington University. She is a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University in US History with a minor in African Diaspora and Public History. Her research focuses on constructs of race in Colonial America, the evolution of racialized slavery, the legacy of 1619, and opportunities for healing and reconciliation within and across communities.
Montpelier preserves, cares for, and interprets James and Dolley Madison’s restored home and its surrounding landscape; the reconstructed South Yard, home to members of the plantation’s Enslaved Community; the Montpelier Family Cemetery and Montpelier Burial Ground; a 4,300 object museum collection; the Gilmore Cabin, the first freedman’s farm in the United States; the 1910 Train Depot, preserved to represent what it would have looked like during the Jim Crow era; and 150 historic structures built across multiple periods of American history. It is located on 2,700 acres, two-thirds of which are under conservation easement, four miles southwest of Orange, Virginia. The site is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.