In Havana, three buildings collapse every single day. A tropical climate and salty ocean air wreak perennial havoc on this living museum of building design. Home to a priceless legacy of five centuries of architecture, the city of Havana and its people lack the materials and funds to preserve that heritage.

Now, with commercial developers poised to swoop in once the last barrier to U.S. reinvestment is removed, Havana faces a risk of uncontrolled development.

Enter the Havana Heritage Foundation. Our mission: To promote, preserve, protect, and restore the rich architectural and cultural heritage of Havana.

Who we are

Board of Directors

James F. Friedlander, Chair is President of Arrangements Abroad, the leader in academic travel since 1977. His more than 30 years of experience as an international banker and management consultant have been vital to Arrangements Abroad’s growing diversity of clients and programs. A graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Wesleyan University, and Columbia Business School, Mr. Friedlander travels frequently to explore new cultural opportunities, and serves on the Emeritus Council of the Educational Travel Conference and the U.S. Advisory Board of the Taj Hotel Group. He has traveled to Cuba more than 40 times during the last 15 years.

Todd Michael Galitz, Ph.D., is currently Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Brooklyn College. He was formerly President of the Museum Travel Alliance , a museum travel consortium launched in 2015. Dr. Galitz has spent more than 20 years in philanthropy at cultural and educational institutions in the United States, including the Asia Society, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University, and Pratt Institute. The holder of a doctorate in history from Brown University. he has served on the faculties of Brown, Hunter College, and Manhattan College, and was a visiting fellow at the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kingdom.

Elizabeth B. Irwin, Esq is Secretary and General Counsel of Academic Arrangements Abroad, and also a delegate to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Commssion  on the Status of Women on behalf of the International Federation of Business &Professional Women. Ms. Irwin spent her childhood years in Brussels and earned a degree in medieval studies at Wesleyan University. While attending Cardozo School of Law, she interned at a Japanese law firm in Tokyo and, as a practicing attorney, served as a New Jersey Assistant Prosecutor. She travels frequently to Cuba on business.

Hermes Mallea, AIA, is a Cuban-American architect and a partner in M(Group), a design firm based in New York City. The author of Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style and Escape, The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour, which recounts the history of resort life in the Caribbean in the mid-20th century. His latest book, Havana Living Today/ Cuban Homestyle Now celebrates the personality-filled interiors created by Havana’s esthetic elite despite economic hardship and isolation. Mr. Mallea studied architecture at the University of Miami and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. A long-time collector of vintage Cuban photographs, he travels to the island frequently to research and lecture on historic preservation. He is on the Board of The Cintas Foundation, the International Council of the Preservation Society of Newport County and The Conservators Council of the New York Public Library.

Chas A. Miller, III heads the management and consulting firm of ForwardMiller LLC. Concurrent to that, he served for 14 years as the part-time Executive Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation in New York. Previously he worked in the New York office of the American Academy in Rome, and earlier in Washington, D.C. with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He has traveled to more than 75 countries and has enjoyed helping to lead fifteen trips to Cuba during the past several years.

Chase W. Rynd, Hon. ALSA,has been Executive Director of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. since 2003. Under his leadership, the Museum has achieved a strong national profile through enhanced educational programs, scholarly and visually engaging exhibitions, and numerous outreach efforts. Previously, Mr. Rynd served as executive director and CEO of the Tacoma Art Museum and of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee. A graduate of Georgetown University, he is a member of the International Council of Museums, American Association of Museums, and Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums.

John Barton is a practicing architect, community leader, and the Director of the Architectural Design Program at Stanford University. Barton has led the Stanford undergraduate program into a unique blend of design, engineering, and practice with a focus on collaborative work and place-based design solutions. The program seeks to redefine architectural education and the professions of architecture and engineering to affect rapidly expanding global urbanization. John received his B.A. and Master’s Degrees in architecture from UC Berkeley. He is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

Trudy Coxe, CEO and Executive Director of The Preservation Society of Newport County, oversees a collection of 11 historic house museums, including seven National Historic Landmarks, with more than 1,000,000 annual admissions. Prior to joining the Preservation Society in 1998, she held several positions in the environmental protection arena, as Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs, Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Save The Bay, and Director of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coxe currently serves on the boards of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, Grow Smart Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Commodores, and the Advisory Board of the Conservation Law Foundation/Rhode Island. She is an Incorporator of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, BankNewport and the Newport Health Care Corporation. Coxe’s grandmother was Cuban and she has visited Cuba on two occasions. Her long term goal is to hike the entire length of the Island.

International Advisory Board

Alejandro G. Alonso IN MEMORY TO A GREAT FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, AND EARLY SUPPORTER OF THE HHF, WHO PASSED AWAY IN 2017. Alejandro G. Alonso was a curator and journalist who published various monographs, essays, and articles on Cuban art. The cultural editor of the newspaper Rebel Youth for nearly two decades, he was also the founder, director, and curator of the Ceramics Museum in Havana. In 1995 he curated the exhibition Novecento Cubano in Milan, Italy, and in 2000 won the prestigious Guy Pérez Cisneros National Prize for Criticism. Mr. Alonso was the author of Havana: The Sleeping Beauty, highlighting the city’s Modernist architecture of the 1940s and 1950s, and co-author of Havana Deco among other scholarly works

Miguel Coyula is an expert in architecture, urban planning, and Cuban history, and a former professor at the University of Havana’s School of Architecture. A frequent lecturer on Cuban history from colonial times to the present, Mr. Coyula has been quoted by journalists from NPR to the Washington Post to Architectural Digest, and has lectured at various U.S. institutions, including American University, Florida International, and Portland State. A founding member of the Cuban Union of Architects, he was an urban development specialist at the Group for the Comprehensive Development of Havana (GDIC) until his retirement in 2011.


KeniaDiaz.jpg  Kenia Elena Díaz Santos is Director of Projects in the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana, where she oversees 240 people dedicated to the restoration and conservation of the historic district. Originally trained as a civil engineer, Ms. Diaz has over two decades of experience in urban design and historic preservation. She is currently completing a master’s degree in world heritage and cultural development projects from the International Training Center of the International Labor Organization, based in Milan, Italy. Since 2013, she has been president of the Provisional Commission of Monuments in Havana.

Julio César Pérez-Hernández is an architect, urban planner, professor, and published author who has lectured at institutions and conferences in the United States, Europe, Canada, Cuba, and Central America. He taught at the University of Havana’s School of Architecture for eight years and was a visiting scholar at Harvard from 2012 to 2013. As a practicing architect, Mr. Pérez-Hernández has built homes in the United States, Cuba, Spain, and Panama. The author of Inside Cuba (2006) and Inside Havana (2011), he has organized eight international charrettes in Havana focused on reviving the city and its waterfront.

Amb. Vicki J. Huddleston, is a retired career Senior Foreign Service Officer who served as Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and Director and Deputy Director of Cuban Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  Subsequent to joining the State Department, she was a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, where she co-led a bipartisan group of scholars and experts in the development of a strategy to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations. She has also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Mali and to Madagascar, and was the acting Ambassador in Ethiopia.

José“Pepe”Viera Linares is a former deputy minister for foreign affairs who represented Cuba at embassies in Honduras, Chile, Bolivia, and the Permanent Mission to the United Nations. After leaving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990, he earned a law degree from the University of Havana and served as legal adviser to several state tourism companies that own hotel properties in Havana. A frequent speaker in Cuba to visiting university, alumni, and business groups, Mr. Viera has also been a visiting scholar and speaker in the United States.

Eusebio Leal Spengler, the Havana City Historian and director of the restoration program of Old Havana, is one of the country’s most prominent preservationists, having spearheaded the refurbishment of hundreds of landmark buildings in Havana’s UNESCO-recognized historic district. From 1993 to 2008, Dr. Leal served three terms as deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power, the legislative parliament in Cuba. He is President of the National Monuments Commission, holds honorary doctorates in architecture, philosophy, and literature from universities in Europe and South America, and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations.

Beth D. Tractenberg, Esq.leads the Trusts and Estates practice for Steptoe &Johnson LLP, an international law firm in New York City, where she counsels various charitable organizations on compliance, fundraising, and other issues. Recognized as a thought leader on legal developments and unique estate planning techniques, she has spoken at the American Law Institute, Practicing Law Institute, Trusts and Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, New York Society of Securities Analysts, and other institutions. She earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Patricia Rodríguez Alomá is an architect who has been involved in rehabilitation efforts in Old Havana since 1984. In 2003 she was appointed Director of the Master Plan for the Comprehensive Revitalization of Old Havana, where she works alongside Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler. Dr. Rodríguez is an associate professor of the Faculty of Architecture of Havana and has lectured on historic preservation at seminars and conferences around the world, including a series of talks on the challenges of change for Havana, which she delivered at Harvard, MIT, and Columbia University.

Magda Resik Aguirre is Communications Director for the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana and for Havana Radio, its radio station. She has been a UNESCO consultant in communications and heritage; a director, presenter, and scriptwriter for various television and radio programs; and a regular contributor to various publications of articles on Cuban art and culture. She is the author of several works of nonfiction, notably Cuba Querida (1998), La Luz Sobre el Espejo (1998), and Mamá Yo Quiero Saber (1999). Her lifelong efforts to promote Cuban culture have been recognized by the Cuban Ministry of Culture, which granted her the José Antonio Fernández de Castro Award for cultural journalism. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Havana.

What's next

Havana Heritage Foundation has embarked on several priority projects that will have an immediate impact in Havana.

Create a series of Tool Lending Libraries. Preserving old buildings and homes can be a costly process, and requires access to tools and equipment—hammers, saws, drills, and the like—that are typically needed only for a short time. Working with a local nongovernmental organization, Havana Heritage Foundation is creating a series of Tool Lending Libraries that will provide Havana residents with free, short-term access to tools and equipment that will enable them to undertake critical repairs and restoration projects in historically significant areas of the city.

Complete the rehabilitation of El Capitolio, the National Capitol Building of Havana. This resplendent Neoclassical structure, for decades the tallest building in the city, has been undergoing extensive restoration since 2010. Built in 1929 by the U.S. firm of Purdy and Henderson, the Capitolio was originally modeled after the U.S. Capitol. Completing its restoration will be a powerful symbol not only of the Havana Heritage Foundation’s dedication to its mission, but of the historic ties of friendship between the two countries.

Organize international conferences and workshops on historic preservation. These will bring international experts in the field to Cuba and also take Cuban practitioners abroad, to facilitate peer learning and educational exchange.

How you can help

Contact us

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