Kat Imhoff on conserved land at James Madison's Montpelier. Photo by Eduardo Montes-Bradley


When it comes to conservation, Kat Imhoff is nothing short of a virtuoso, as abundant in inspiration and innovation as she is in action. At the helm of Montpelier, Monticello, and The Nature Conservancy in Montana, she led conservation and restoration projects that preserve significant historical, cultural and rural legacies. PEC is proud to welcome Kat into its fold as senior conservation fellow, working out of our Charlottesville office.

Kat has worked for PEC twice before, in the 1980s and 1990s. During her first tenure, she led the labor-intensive process of getting the Southwest Mountains Rural Historic District named on the National Register of Historic Places. That effort laid the groundwork for 17 more rural historic districts throughout the northern Piedmont.

Her return to PEC, Kat says, “goes to the heart of what PEC offers as an organization. It looks not just at rural preservation and agriculture protection, but also makes the connection between rural conservation and livable, desirable cities as an ecosystem. I have always been intrigued that PEC is willing to take on complex issues and talk about complex solutions, to have an impact at a local, regional and state level, and to offer what can be a model at the national level.”

She hopes to reflect on what is being done in conservation throughout the region and nation, integrate work that others have already started and look for new openings. Enhancing public access and mitigating climate impacts within the conservation framework are two of her motivators.

“If people don’t have the chance to be out in nature, if you don’t grow up with that as part of your ethic and opportunity, it becomes harder later on to see the value of an investment in open space. I think the work PEC has been doing in the areas of greenway connection and bike paths and pedestrian areas are terrific, and I hope I can help PEC do more of that,” she said.

She’d also like to explore how PEC’s work can contribute to a national model for addressing climate issues. “PEC’s work has always been done within a paradigm that is about being sensitive to impacts on climate, environment, sustainable agriculture, smart growth, land management. All of these things pieced together are many of the tools in the toolbox for addressing climate issues on a larger scale,” she said.

"When we set aside land for future generations and to save the character of the Piedmont, it is a gift beyond measure."

“And if nothing else, I’m hoping to draw more friends and supporters from the southern part of PEC’s nine-county service area into the cause and really shine the light on the impressive work that has been done in Albemarle County, Madison, Orange and Greene,” she said. “When we set aside land for future generations and to save the character of the Piedmont, it is a gift beyond measure. Because we really don’t know 100 or 200 years from now what the importance of those lands will be, but we can guess that water quality, species protection and even providing breathing space for human beings will all add up.”