Conversations about turning the derelict Old Naval Hospital into a new DC Public Library location…
Well over a decade ago, Donna Scheeder began her journey with Hill Center. One of the early visionaries who dreamed about how the Old Naval Hospital might thrive as Hill Center, Scheeder was elected President of the Board of Directors in June 2020. One of her first presidential duties? Accepting a generous gift from Safeway! We thought we’d take a minute to get to know her.
What is your day job?
After a 45 year career at the Library of Congress, I now do occasional consulting work for libraries and librarians. I specialize in leadership training and strategic planning, often in countries outside the U.S. Those who know me think I am a professional volunteer because of my work at Hill Center and Eastern Market.
Why did you get involved with Hill Center?
When Steve and Nicky Cymrot asked me to come by Riverby Books to talk about how we could preserve and keep the Old Naval Hospital as an asset for the community, I could not resist their request to be part of what I knew could be a major addition to our community – and it is. Ever since that fateful day I am inspired by the people that I work with both on the Board and on staff. I love the place, but I love the people that I work with even more.
What excites you the most about Hill Center?
Hill Center is home grown and grows stronger because of the support of its community. It has been transformed from a sad, falling down almost empty structure to a vibrant home where people of all ages in the DMV can explore their passions, whether it be cooking, painting or public affairs.
What is your favorite program or event that Hill Center offers?
It is too hard to pick out just one. I love the bluegrass concerts that are outside surrounded by our beautiful gardens. But after my own 45 years of public service, most of which was at the Congressional Research Service, I am most drawn to the Bill Press interview series where everyone from Supreme Court justices like Sonia Sotomayor to award winning journalists like David Ignatius give their insights on public affairs and answer our questions too.
What is your favorite memory or story involving Hill Center?
My favorite memory is opening day of the Hill Center. From 2002-2011 when we opened, the Old Naval Hospital Foundation overcame many obstacles. Seeing the dream realized, and having the grounds filled with people who were eager to be part of our opening was living a dream come true. Since then, Hill Center has surpassed even my wildest expectations of what it could be as a center of community.
What’s the one thing you think people should know about Hill Center?
Everyone is welcome and we want your ideas for new things we can offer. Also, Hill Center has an amazing group of volunteers. If you have some time to give join us. You will meet new people and expand your network of friends.