Donna Graves is an independent historian/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 Richmond, California’s Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. Her interpretive work there can be found in the national park visitor center, along the San Francisco Bay Trail and in Richmond’s downtown core. She has extensive experience collaborating with diverse communities to foreground local histories.
Graves has served as lead or collaborating historian for several San Francisco projects including the Historic Context Statement for Japantown, a Citywide Historic Context of New Deal Era Sites, and 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).
Graves holds an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA and an M.A. in American Civilization from Brown University. She has lectured widely and taught about inter-disciplinary approaches to developing public history projects, and new ways of thinking about cultural heritage conservation. Her recent work has been published in The Public Historian, Change Over Time and an upcoming issue of Columbia University’s Issues in Preservation Policy series
She served as an Advisor to the National Park Service’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Theme Study and on the Board of Advisors for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Recognitions for Graves’ 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.