I'm bowled over by the shared sense of mission and purpose that I've witnessed from the ticket windows to the sand trucks. If America is in Monticello's hands, the future is bright.
-Jane Kamensky, January 19, 2024

April 25, 2024 - Arriving at Monticello in mid-January, Dr. Jane Kamensky enthusiastically dived into her role as Monticello's new president, exploring the Monticello property, taking tours, and doing ride-alongs with our staff. This is no small feat - the Monticello property spans over 3,000 acres and includes 26 departments supporting the foundation's mission of education and preservation. 

Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at Kamensky's first one hundred days at Monticello.

Digging into History

Research and education is the beating heart of our work at Monticello. We host a vibrant community of historians, scholars, archaeologists, educators, restoration and conservation teams, curators, librarians, and other professionals who are actively exploring history to then present to the public. Starting in January, Kamensky visited our research staff to get a close-up look into Monticello's ongoing, and widely varied, initiatives.

Kamensky investigating a Native American pot

In the Archaeology department, Kamensky toured the archaeology laboratory for a hands-on look at artifacts. This included finds from Mulberry Row and the Monticello Plantation as well as artifacts being analyzed by the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS). She is seen here with DAACS Project Manager Beth Bollwerk inspecting a cross-mended Native American pot from Flowerdew Hundred Plantation, a collection from the Williamsburg area currently being catalogued by DAACS staff.

It's All in the Details

Monticello's Restoration department is responsible for the preservation, conservation, and accurate interpretation of the mountaintop's historic and reconstructed buildings.

Jane Kamensky and Monticello's Senior Restoration Specialist Carol Richardson examine details on plasterwork on the second floor of the house

One recent project includes documenting and repairing the highly detailed "compo" ornaments found throughout the house, which can be seen up close from the second floor balcony. Here, Monticello's Architectural Conservator Lucy Midlefort and Senior Restoration Specialist Carol Richardson examine details on compo borders on the second floor of the house.

Kamensky on the rooftop of Monticello, looking northwest

Later on the same morning, Restoration staff took Kamensky on a tour of Monticello's distinct roof, where she also had a unique view of one of our tour groups on the West Lawn.

Joining the Celebration: Founder's Day

Every year, Monticello joins with the University of Virginia to mark Founder's Day and the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth with a ceremony, celebration, and the presentation of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals. This year Kamensky participated in her first Founder's Day, overseeing the festivities on Monticello's West Lawn on April 12, marking Jefferson's 281st birthday.

The ceremony featured the remarks of Julieanna L. Richardson, the 2024 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership, and Dr. Andrea Douglas, recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Citizenship Award. Richardson is the founder and president of The HistoryMakers, a national non-profit educational institution that has curated, presented, and preserved on video the histories of thousands of African Americans. Douglas is the founding executive director of Jefferson School African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville, VA.

Kamensky also joined the Medals Dinner on April 11 at Monticello, co-hosting with the University of Virginia all the honorees, including recipients of the medals in Law (The Honorable Roger L. Gregory) and Architecture (Kate Orff).

Jefferson’s legacy can be embraced across the political spectrum through honesty and the pursuit of evidence as well as the pursuit of happiness. So it was really exciting to honor two educators of such different kinds and power.
-Jane Kamensky, April 12, 2024


Let us think not only of the brilliance of Thomas Jefferson, but also of the bedrock principles of equality, liberty, and popular sovereignty—principles enshrined in and protected by the achievements he featured on his tombstone. Let us think ... also of ourselves and our future, and what we can and must do to carry on the work of the democratic experiment to which Thomas Jefferson devoted so much of his life of service.
-Jane Kamensky, Founder's Day Wreath Laying Cermony
April 12, 2024

Boots on the Ground

Kamensky on the East Walk on a snowy morning

Kamensky arrived at Monticello during a cold snap that more closely resembled her New England roots than a Virginia winter. She journeyed around the mountaintop with the Guest Services team as they prepared to open the property to visitors for the day; no small feat on a snowy, icy winter morning. The Gardens and Grounds team ensured that all slick surfaces were cleared for guests and Kamensky also rode shuttles with welcoming drivers and excited guests from as far away as Florida and Kansas.
Pictured: Kamensky stops by East Walk on a snowy winter's morning with David Blumenstock (Manager of Guest Services), Justin Bates (Manager of Special Programs), and Steve Geis (Director of Guest Relations).

Great ideas are everywhere in the grassroots of the Foundation.
-Jane Kamensky, March 11, 2024

Witnessing [the staff's] commitment to Monticello is truly inspiring. Those conversations made me think about TJF as a site of life-long learning, which I know we’ll be promoting in the years ahead.
-Jane Kamensky, February 16, 2024

Hear More from Jane

Sharing American History with Dr. Jane Kamensky and Bill Barker

In this livestreamed Q&A, Monticello’s president Dr. Jane Kamensky and historic interpreter Bill Barker discussed the opportunities and challenges of public history, connecting with guests on the mountaintop, and Monticello’s preparation for a generational milestone: the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.

About Jane Kamensky

Check out Monticello's fall press release to learn more about Kamensky's background, research pursuits, and move to Monticello.