This version of Preservation Notes takes us to Hill Center’s grounds, restored to their original…
Conversations about turning the derelict Old Naval Hospital into a new DC Public Library location brought Jennifer Cartland into the Hill Center family and Board of Directors over a decade ago. Now, she is our newly elected Board Vice President, so we’d thought it would be nice to get to know her!
What is your day job?
During the day, I’m the Executive Director of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. (Background if you need it: Although the name sounds like it, The Academy isn’t a school. It’s the signature program of Washington Nationals Philanthropies – the philanthropic arm of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.)
Why did you get involved with Hill Center?
I’m a founding Board member, and became involved in early efforts to find a new home for the Southeast Library. I was a principal at the time and had heard many times from the teachers at my school how the space at the SE branch of the library was very limited. Nicky Cymrot (who I knew from her work with the Capitol Hill Community Foundation) approached me about being involved in discussions to identify a possible new library space. Those conversations evolved into planning for Hill Center.
What excites you the most about Hill Center?
I’m energized by many of the individual offerings at the Hill Center, but I think what excites me most is the flexibility and progressive approaches to programming. It seems that the staff is constantly thinking about fresh and new activities in which the community might enjoy participating. I feel that Hill Center is never only one thing. It’s constantly evolving.
What is your favorite program or event that Hill Center offers?
I’ve really enjoyed the Bill Press interviews. I’ve been present for talks with Mayor Bowser, Representative Maxine Waters, Madeleine Albright, and Justice Sotomayor. Each was informative and inspiring. I also enjoy the gallery exhibits and the annual pottery showcase and sale.
What is your favorite memory or story involving Hill Center?
I remember when the building had been cleaned out and given some attention so that we could hold a fundraiser – just before full renovation began. The floors weren’t done, the walls weren’t painted, there was no elevator and in some places you could see the framing of the building’s interior. Even though it was still very far from being a “finished” product, it was easy to see the potential. The building was beautiful even then, and I felt a great sense of pride having been even slightly involved with bringing it “back to life.”
What’s the one thing you think people should know about Hill Center?
People should know how intentional we’re being about finding ways to offer programs and engagements for a broad range of audiences. My guess is that there are people that have never visited because they believe the Center doesn’t have anything that would interest them. I’d encourage people to stop in (when we’re open again!) and ask about what’s going on. I think many will be pleasantly surprised at how much they might want to be a part of.