US/ICOMOS Intern with International National Trust Organization

By Katie Jacobs, Royal Oak Foundation US/ICOMOS Intern

Katie litterpicking at Avebury

Katie litterpicking at Avebury

When I was initially accepted for an internship placement last summer through the U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites’ (US/ICOMOS) internship program, I had no idea what to expect – or where in the world I would be placed. I wound up working under Catherine Leonard, Secretariat of International National Trust Organization (INTO), hosted by the National Trust in London, which has been a complete blessing in my professional life. Thanks to the support of The Royal Oak Foundation, I learned a great deal about preservation challenges across the globe and how the wider preservation community can collaborate on these shared opportunities.

First, a bit about the INTO itself: INTO is a worldwide network of people, institutions, government agencies, and private corporations who support the preservation of our global cultural heritage. The organization seeks to keep open the lines of communication between national trusts around the world, fostering shared values and collaboration among these groups.

The work that INTO and Catherine do is unique. She meets with representatives of different national trusts each week and seeks to make the connection between heritage organizations and trusts stronger. She proved to be an indispensable mentor. She has taught me that every nation is working to save their national heritage and showed how important it is to have communication between nations when concerning cultural heritage. I learned how nations tackle different preservation challenges, often through innovative programs, and how imperative it is that we in the preservation community share and develop these innovations together.

My main project for the summer was researching a set of ten case studies for an INTO Action project. Through this research I made contact with heads of national trusts around the world to learn what they are working on. It was interesting to discover how each trust copes with their different challenges and how important trust organizations can be to developing countries. The interconnection between economic development and heritage continues to develop ; it was great to put the pieces together and notice all the similarities and differences between each trust.

Catherine Leonard and Katie Jacobs, as Katie interned for INTO in London over the summer of 2014.

Catherine Leonard and Katie Jacobs, as Katie interned for INTO in London over the summer of 2014.

I was struck by how trust organizations large and small sought to broaden their impact on the local community. For instance, the National Trust in the U.K.instituted The London Project, which works to develop innovative programming and partnerships at its London properties through a series of events such as pop-up restaurants, late-night London, and special talks. Through The London Project, the Trust also realized that it needed to work with London’s other heritage organizations to be most effective. The London Project provides a good model to the international trust community by showing a potential way to get young people engaged in heritage. The London Project also engaged the National Trust with neighborhood-based groups and people who might not come to their properties on their own. This kind of work provides a road map to other heritage organizations, and INTO works as an ideal conduit for these sorts of ideas.

Last summer was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. I made great connections with heritage professionals and saw even more of the world. One of the greatest things about working with INTO was the location; being a professional tourist in London while interning was a great experience. I know that the skills learned and people met on this internship will provide great stepping stones for my future career.


  • More on Katie’s Internship:

    Annual Report
    Read Katie's full report here (PDF)

    You can also learn more about Katie's experience at her blog.