Meet The Team
CHABA Board meetings are now held (with some exceptions) every third Thursday of the month at 6 PM at the Center headquarters: David Sheppard House, 31 West Commerce Street, Bridgeton, NJ 08302.
HomeFronts Workshop Committee Meetings and other Committee meetings are held as needed while conferences and workshops are being planned and conducted. Except in the rare case of executive sessions, all meetings are announced by social media and email as well as on this website and are fully open to the public.
Flavia Alaya, Ph.D
CEO and Board President
Artist, author, professor--Guggenheim, Dodge, and Kress Foundation Fellow--habitual cultural kick-starter with a zealous sense of place--was Inspired into housing and preservation activism on New York’s West Side during its embattled urban renewal phase, then locked onto the backstory of industrial Paterson after moving to New Jersey. ‘Scripting the landscape” of this gritty industrial, immigrant city shaped her public history career. Past chair of both the Paterson and Bridgeton Historic Commissions, longtime member of the New Jersey Historic Sites Council, she moved to Bridgeton in 2006 and two years later co-founded the Center for Historic American Building Arts to help create a laboratory for preservation as an engine of economic redevelopment.
Margaret "Maggie" DeMarco
MARGARET ”MAGGIE” DE MARCO, a Vineland native, came to Bridgeton in 1973, joining the struggle over city direction that, among other things, created the historic district.
An engineer by training (Catholic U, 1964), her early work as a VISTA volunteer in Arizona suggests the spirit of service that has defined her career. Bridgeton’s Neighborhood Preservation Coordinator from 1983, she was also its Assistant Director of Community Development, then Executive Director of the non-profit Bridgeton Housing Development Corporation, administering a Federal HOPE 3 grant that rehabbed 20 City-owned houses for resale to city residents. She retired in 2008 from the NJ Division of Taxation.
A member of the CHABA Board from 2011 to 2014 and Treasurer for two years, Maggie returned in 2018, joining the board and taking the lead as Project Administrator on the Bring Back the Nail House Campaign. She is also closely involved with our Homefronts program and brings her familiarity with Bridgeton neighborhoods and the culture of local home-ownership to the CHABA Board.
Robert C. Preston, CLA, PP, CPSI
An accomplished landscape architect and professional planner with a Penn State degree in landscape architecture. In 1979, excited by the challenge of revitalization in Atlantic City, where major change and community consensus-building confronted rigorous budgetary and construction constraints, he launched his own consulting firm, Forrest Associates Limited, working on large private and public projects in recreation, housing and transit throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Boldness, community sensitivity and a sense of public service define his career, which now includes many non-profit boards and the New Jersey Historic Sites Council. He continues consulting and teaching while serving as Chief Landscape Architect of Atlantic City's Division of Planning. A CHABA board member since 2012, Robert travels to Bridgeton from Atlantic City to share his expertise and wisdom.
Alan joined CHABA in 2018 when he was already a busy volunteer in and around Bridgeton, working with the Friends of Bridgeton Public Library, and as a robotics coach for the local robotics team. At CHABA he has focused his community-based approach into our Obie Scholarship program as well as the Bring Back The Nail House Campaign.
Yesí is a Bridgeton native, with a self-educated interest in filling in the gaps of our collective past to set proper foundation for our future generations. She joined CHABA in 2018 out of love for Bridgeton's historic structures and with an passion for innovative preservation. Along with helping to direct CHABA through it's various projects, she has also taken the lead on keeping our files organized (an undervalued yet indispensable task) as well as the creation and upkeep of our website.
Social Media Manager
Amy Petrie is a Bridgetonian, through-and-through, and accredits Bridgeton for shaping her into the person she is today. Inspired by the vast and diverse history of Bridgeton, Amy founded South Jersey Adventures, a social-educational organization, as well as Coastal Jersey Adventures and North Jersey Adventures. Amy then created South Jersey Made, a small business that helps give other South Jersey small businesses and artists a platform on their home turf by organizing festivals, as well as offering low-cost marketing and guidance.
In addition to sitting on the board for Center for Historic American Building Arts, Amy is also Vice Chair for Cohansey Area Watershed Association. She also serves on the Cumberland County Democratic Committee and on the Bridgeton Zoning Board.
Amy resides in Bridgeton, with her husband and three children. In her spare time, Amy volunteers with the Cumberland County Historical Society, Bianca's Kids, Big Brothers and Sisters, and hosts monthly cleanups around the downtown area and park. She is also an avid photographer, poet, and hiker.
Jamie moved to the area in 2007 and instantly fell in love with the Ferracute building. She was amazed by Bridgeton's architectural stock, and when offered a position as a communications intern for the 2014 CHABACON she gladly accepted. Her background is in outreach, communications, marketing and fundraising. Her passions include social and environmental justice, learning and preserving the history of everyday people, and integrating environmentalism and historic preservation. She received her Bachelor's in English Language and Literature at Rowan University where she also won the Medallion Award for Excellence in Women's Studies. She received her Masters in Management with a focus on Community and Economic Development and is interested in how cooperative business models can increase the ability of small business to contribute positively to local economies. In addition to being CHABA's Executive Director she also works full time at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor as the Manager of Advancement, and burns the midnight oil as owner of The Great Full Garden, her hobby farm.