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Misia Leonard Scholarship Spotlight: Carrie Miller

May 24, 2023 2:05 PM | Natalie Henshaw (Administrator)

The Misia Leonard Scholarship is a fund to help students, apprentices, and emerging professionals attend the International Preservation Trades Workshop. Founded in 2016, this scholarship is named in memory of Misia Leonard. Misia served on the PTN Board of Directors and was a strong advocate for the preservation of our cultural heritage. For over 20 years, she worked for the City of New York, spending the last eight of those as Director of the Historic Preservation Office for the Department of Design and Construction. While serving on the PTN Board of Directors, she was instrumental in the development of AIA/CES program. 

The Misia Leonard Scholarship was dedicated in her honor in 2016. Since then, five students and apprentices annually receive financial assistance to attend the IPTW. This has been a great avenue for emergining professionals to learn about different trades, meet craftspeople, and get engaged with PTN. The Scholarship is supported by proceeds from the annual auction at IPTW. Five different people were awarded scholarships to attend the 2022 IPTW at Belmont College. In the lead up to the 25th IPTW, we will feature one of their stories each month. This month we feature Maura Smith.

This year, up to 25 students, apprentices, and emerging professionals will able to attend the IPTW for free. Those students can submit an application for waived registration here, and also apply for the Misia Leonard Scholarship. Consider donating to the PTN Scholarship Fund through direct donations and donating to the annual auction.

Carrie Miller

A little over a month ago I was in route to the annual PTN auction, which is final event of IPTW. I was just four months into a complete career change, and attending IPTW was really my first exposure to the preservation trades and the incredible people who keep them alive. I remember thinking about how bizarre it was to already feel so comfortable with and understood by people I had just met days before. It’s rare for me to meet people that share my passion to preserve and restore the built history around us. Many of the fears and hesitance I had upon entering a new field of work simply melted away at IPTW; the resounding message I received was that I am welcomed into this community, and that I will have an important role in this community as I learn and perfect my craft.

The value of being able to see an expert craftsperson explain, share stories, and demonstrate their experience and skill was such a joy and privilege. After attending my first workshop (Terrazo by Sarel Venter), I felt like a kid in a candy store. Not every person’s “candy store” happens to be work-related, and I realized in that moment how incredibly lucky I was! The most difficult quickly became choosing which workshops to go to – I would’ve gone to all of them twice if possible!

Because woodworking and construction have comprised the majority of my prior hands-on experience, I intentionally tried to attend the demonstrations that I had little to no experience in: slate roofing, forging, models and casting, steel windows, wood windows, stucco repairs, and stone masonry. Each demonstrator offered an incredibly specialized perspective and gave ample space for questions. I even got the opportunity to try my hand at reglazing windows, cutting slate, and carving stone.

As I recently became a conservation technician working with a variety of materials on historic buildings and public art, this information and these connections have been priceless for me. I refer to my notes and videos of the demonstrations from IPTW at least twice a week. The continuous novelty of the projects I am tasked with at work are far less nerve-racking knowing that I have access to a community so willing to share their experiences and advice with newcomers to the field like myself.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity attend this year’s IPTW as a receiver of the Misia Leonard scholarship. I am especially grateful to PTN’s President Andrea Sevonty who welcomed me to visit her workshop to learn about her work, as well as encourage me to attend IPTW. This experience has confirmed that I am absolutely in the right career path, which is something that I did not expect to receive. I look forward to continuing my membership with PTN and expanding my knowledge, network, and skillset at next year’s IPTW!

Dear PTN Board Members:

One of those key people was Andrea Sevonty, who not only welcomed me to visit her stained glass workshop but also encouraged me to attend ITPW. Nothing has been more affirming for me than my experience attending ITPW.


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