Donna Graves is an independent historian and urban planner based in Berkeley, CA. She develops interdisciplinary public history projects that emphasize social equity and sense of place.

Her involvement in projects that weave together local histories, preservation, art and community participation began with her tenure as executive director of The Power of Place, which received national acclaim for its ground-breaking work in interpreting the history of downtown Los Angeles through urban design, historic preservation and public art.

Graves served as project director for the Rosie the Riveter Memorial and has been instrumental in establishing and developing California’s Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. She was director of Preserving California’s Japantowns, an ambitious, statewide effort to identify and document what remains of the many pre-WWII communities destroyed by forced removal and incarceration. She recently co-authored (with Shayne Watson) an award-winning citywide study of LGBTQ historic places in San Francisco and co-authored a chapter for the National Park Service’s LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History (2016).
She served as an Advisor to the National Park Service’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Theme Study and is on the Board of Advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Graves holds an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA and an MA in American Civilization from Brown University. She has lectured widely and taught about interdisciplinary approaches to developing public history projects, and new ways of thinking about cultural heritage conservation. With James Buckley, she recently co-authored “Tangible Benefits from Intangible Resources: Using Social and Cultural History to Plan Neighborhood Futures,” Journal of the American Planning Association, March 2016. Graves’s work also has been recently featured in The Guardian, Essex Blog, and Issues in Preservation Policy–Preservation and Social Inclusion.

Recognitions for Graves’s work include the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s first Advocacy Award, the National Park Service’s Home Front Award, the California Preservation Foundation’s Excellence in Historic Preservation Award and the California Governor’s Historic Preservation Award. In 2009-2010 Graves was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Related News & Stories

Perspectives on Preservation
Read More
Search All Fellows