The Montpelier Foundation announced Monday evening that its president and CEO, Kat Imhoff, will leave her position this fall.
Imhoff has led Montpelier, the historic home of President James Madison, since 2012 and earlier this month announced the property has placed an additional 1,024 acres of the 2,700-acre estate under permanent conservation easement through a gift from the Mars Family Conservation Fund.
“Over the last seven years, Kat’s leadership has transformed Montpelier,” Dennis A. Kernahan, chairman of the foundation, said in a news release, praising Imhoff’s decisions in presenting Madison’s involvement with slavery, the Constitution and the Virginia landscape.
“She raised record contributions to advance and sustain Montpelier’s work. She welcomed the community to enjoy this magnificent property. I deeply admire Kat and look forward to her enthusiastic support of Montpelier over the next several years.”
Reached by phone during a family vacation, Imhoff said she was very comfortable with her decision to leave and pleased with the work she’s accomplished.
“I felt like we’ve done everything I thought I’d come to Montpelier to do,” she said. “With this last easement, it felt like a good time to pass the baton.”
Still, she said she would remain in the area, remain an active supporter, donor and cheerleader for the home of the fourth president.
Imhoff said she works professionally in five- to eight-year stints and is approaching the end of her seventh year at the property.
She said she currently is in negotiations regarding her next opportunity, adding, “I feel it’s a really important time to be focused on conservation.”
Since she started in December 2012, Imhoff crisscrossed the country speaking about James Madison, the father of the Constitution of the United States, and is among the first generation of women to oversee all aspects of a national historic site. Montpelier has become a leader in the research on slavery and garnered the attention of patriotic philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, whose $11 million gift jumpstarted efforts to reconstruct the history of slavery at Montpelier and to furnish James Madison’s historic home.
“Kat brilliantly and tirelessly led the effort to restore and transform Montpelier. James Madison is no doubt looking down proudly on one of his legacies.” said David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group, in Washington, D.C.
“Since Kat arrived at Montpelier, she worked to gather financial support to bring to life the character of one of our most important founders and provide for the preservation of the home of James and Dolley Madison. While I am sorry to see Kat leave Montpelier, which The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation has supported over many years, I have the highest regard for her energy, devotion and commitment. I know that her interests in conservation are of paramount importance to her. She accomplished so much in seven years at Montpelier and it has benefitted from her leadership,” added Joseph Erdman, a trustee of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
In looking back at her initial plans when she took the job, Imhoff checked off key accomplishments she set out to do.
“I wanted to bring Mr. Madison fully back to Montpelier by furnishing the house. I wanted to tell a more complete American story. I wanted us to have a stronger role in terms of the stewardship of the site. I wanted more public education about the Constitution and the center for the Constitution,” she said. “I feel like I’ve done what I came to do and it’s time for someone else to bring their energy and ideas to Montpelier.”
Imhoff said she’s planning to stay through the Montpelier Hunt Races Nov. 2. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in the next five months.”
“Kat Imhoff has been a blessing to Montpelier,” said Jacqueline B. Mars. “Her accomplishments have been too numerous to mention. She has many fans and supporters of which I am one of the most devoted. I am sure that she will be a success no matter what she turns to.”