Historic Annapolis President Robert Clark to step down; Karen Brown steps into leadership role

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Robert Clark, the longtime president of Historic Annapolis, is stepping down after nearly a decade in charge.

Clark was tapped to head the leading nonprofit preservation and history organization in Annapolis in October 2012 after serving on the Board of Trustees for two years.

Karen Theimer Brown will take over as the President and CEO of Historic Annapolis effective immediately, the organization announced Thursday. Brown was the vice president for preservation at Historic Annapolis since 2016.

Karen Brown, the senior vice president of preservation, will take over effective immediately, the organization announced in a news release. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the change of leadership Wednesday.

“I love this organization and this town that I call my home,” Brown said in a news release. “I am very proud to work alongside such wonderful colleagues to uphold our role as a leader in historic preservation, to protect the city’s character, and to connect the public with Annapolis’ history. I am excited to help lead [Historic Annapolis] forward.”

Historic Annapolis CEO Robert Clark, with Mayor Gavin Buckley, talks about the findings of the Urban Land Institute technical assistance panel about changes to City Dock at a public meeting at the Market House in Annapolis. Clark will step down after 10 years of heading Historic Annapolis.

As part of the changes, Clark will become executive chairman of the organization, focusing on fundraising.

Over that last decade, Clark led several successful preservation ventures including the March unveiling the Museum of Historic Annapolis. Housed in a former general store built in 1791 at City Dock, the museum includes a permanent exhibit “Annapolis: An American Story,” and serves as a launchpad to historical landmarks scattered throughout the city.

After seven years of planning, designing and raising millions to make the museum a reality, the organization is in need of more money for upcoming projects, something he’s adept at, Clark said.

“I’m still planning on giving [Historic Annapolis] 60 hours a week, as I have for a decade,” he said. “And I’m delighted to be able to have Karen Brown step into the role of president and CEO because she’s got a good mind for the details and her intellect and her education are in preservation, which of course is our mission.”

During Clark’s tenure, the organization has bolstered the collection of historic properties it oversees, which include the William Paca House and Garden, Waterfront Warehouse, Hogshead and Shiplap House. Last summer, Clark negotiated the transfer of the lease for the John Shaw House, the oldest extant building on State Circle, from the State of Maryland to Historic Annapolis for preservation and restoration.

Another property, the James Brice House, is currently undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation. The work is about halfway complete, Clark said.

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In 2018, Clark played a key role in creating the City Dock Action Committee, a citizen-led group that set out to make recommendations for redeveloping the downtown waterfront area. That effort has led to a partnership with the city and a group of private firms to rebuild Noah Hillman Garage and later renovate City Dock.

With more than 20 years of experience in the preservation field, Brown has been with Historic Annapolis since 2016, leading the organization’s policy, advocacy and preservation planning initiatives. She lives in Annapolis with her husband and three boys. She previously worked in the city of Annapolis’ Historic Preservation Division and is a past commissioner of the Annapolis Historic Preservation Commission. Brown currently serves on the Annapolis Heritage Commission.


Historic Annapolis also announced the addition of Traci Ramsey to its leadership team as vice president of advancement.

Ramsey holds more than 20 years of professional fundraising experience. Most recently, she served as the director of development at Indian Creek School for 16 years, according to an organization news release. She also served as the director of corporate and foundation relations for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Before he led the preservation organization, Clark built a successful career as a securities and marketing executive. Clark has served on the Annapolis Heritage Commission, as well as the Board of Directors for Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, serving as board chairman for two years. He also held a seat on the Board of Trustees at Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s retreat home in Lynchburg, Virginia, for 12 years, serving from 2010 to 2012 as the chairman of the board.

Clark currently serves on the Board of The Friends of St. John’s College.