The Board of Directors of Four Rivers: The Heritage Area of Annapolis, London Town & South County announces the departure of Executive Director Donna Dudley. Ms Dudley, Four Rivers’ Executive Director since 2002, has resigned to assume a new position as Chief of Tourism for Charles County.
Under Ms. Dudley’s leadership, Four Rivers has brought more than $1.68 million in matching Maryland Heritage Areas Authority funding into the community to support heritage related projects valued at more than $6 million. This funding has supported major projects at Historic London Town & Gardens, Historic Annapolis Foundation, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau, and the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Heritage area funding has also benefited the Galesville Heritage Society, the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, the Charles Carroll House, St. John’s College, the Frederick Douglass Museum & Cultural Center, Banneker-Douglass Museum, the Thomas Point Shoal Light, Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation, the West/Rhode Riverkeeper program, and the Deale Area Historical Society, as well as the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Ms. Dudley created the first heritage area mini-grants program in the state, which has leveraged other funding for more than 40 additional heritage related projects in this region. She is also responsible for the annual heritage awards program that honors local heritage projects, people, and organizations. Four Rivers produced several award-winning heritage tourism products under Ms. Dudley’s supervision, including “Roots & Tides: A Journey Through Southern Anne Arundel County,” “Landings: A Boater’s Guide to the Four Rivers Heritage Area,” “Footnotes: A Walking Tour of the Historic Properties of Cornhill & Fleet Streets,” and “Discover Four Rivers: A History Explorer’s Guide.” Ms. Dudley also serves on the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors, the Executive Directors’ Council to the Maryland Tourism Development Board, and as Co-Chair of the Coalition of Maryland Heritage Areas.
“I am so proud of what the Four Rivers Heritage Area has accomplished since it was certified in 2001 to enhance the wonderful resources we have here in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County,” said Ms. Dudley. “We’ve built strong partnerships with Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis, and the many heritage-related organizations and businesses in our community to preserve our diverse heritage and to improve the visitor experience.”
Donna Hole, founding member and past Chair of the Four Rivers Heritage Area, and former Chief of Historic Preservation for the City of Annapolis, commended Ms. Dudley for her service. “Donna Dudley demonstrated outstanding leadership in making the Four Rivers Heritage Area a model for those that followed. She was inclusive, collaborative, and creative in developing new products. She was a key figure in organizing the Coalition of Maryland Heritage Areas. In addition, she was a determined and effective advocate, assuring that the program was sustained during her five year tenure as Executive Director. Charles County is indeed fortunate to have such a creative and energetic Chief of Tourism.”
Connie DelSignore, President and CEO of the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau, and newly installed head of the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, said, “Donna has done an incredible job of building the Four Rivers Heritage Area program with very limited resources. Her departure is a big loss to us here, but she will be a wonderful addition to the state-wide tourism industry.”
Four Rivers is part of Maryland’s award-winning heritage areas program, which preserves and enhances natural, cultural, and historic resources, to encourage community revitalization and heritage tourism. For more information on the state program, please visit www.marylandhistoricaltrust.net/heritagetourism.