Program Coordinator, Training Program
It may have been the presence of so many historic buildings in her hometown of Morristown, New Jersey, but for whatever reason, Erica Avrami's interest in historic architecture dates to childhood. She began studying drafting at age 14, and by 17 she was employed by a local architecture firm.
After receiving her bachelor of arts in architecture from Columbia University, she spent a summer in Great Britain as US/ICOMOS intern with the National Trust documenting historic cottages and farmsteads throughout Devon. Returning to New York, she worked for two years at the city's Department of Ports and Trade, managing projects involving historic waterfront properties.
In 1990 Ms. Avrami traveled to Malaysia, where she spent a year as a Henry Luce Foundation Scholar at the Heritage of Malaysia Trust. While there, she worked on the conservation of a landmark Malay house and surveyed indigenous housing and colonial structures throughout the country. Returning again to New York, she attended graduate school at Columbia and worked part-time for the architecture and planning firm of Jan Hird Pokorny. After earning her master's degree in historic preservation, she continued with the firm full-time as a project manager and architectural conservator.
In May 1994 Ms. Avrami joined the GCI as a coordinator in the Training Program. She is working on a variety of Institute projects, including a feasibility study of potential training activities in tropical sites conservation and the development of a course on archaeological site management in Tunisia. As part of an Institute-wide initiative, she is involved in a joint venture with UCLA to establish a master's program in archaeological and ethnographic conservation. She is also coordinating a Latin American course on the conservation and management of adobe sites.
Ms. Avrami has found that her own views on conservation correspond well to the philosophy of the GCI—a philosophy that calls for conserving not only materials but traditions and cultural values as well.
Senior Receptionist, Administration
A native of the American Midwest, Jan Shipman was born and raised in Rochelle, Illinois. She attended North Illinois State Teachers College for several years, then, along with her parents, decided to try life in California. The move west proved agreeable, and the family made Los Angeles their permanent home. Ms. Shipman enrolled at an executive secretary school in Beverly Hills and upon graduation was hired by a midtown Los Angeles savings and loan. She worked there for nine years, then resigned to raise her two sons.
Eighteen years later she decided to return to work part-time. In August 1985, a few months after the GCI moved into its Marina del Rey facility, she was hired as a temporary receptionist. Six months later she was working full-time—something she thought she would never have the patience to do—and by August 1986 she was officially a Getty employee.
Since then she has remained the first person employees and visitors see each day when arriving at the Institute. Meeting people, particularly GCI visitors from around the world, is one of the pleasures of the job for her. She also enjoys the education in art that simply being at the Institute provides. It has been interesting for her to watch the Institute's projects develop, and she finds it exciting to be part of an organization that she sees making a difference in the world.
What she also finds exciting are cars. For many years she and her husband have been automobile collectors, and they are founding members of the Delorean Car Club, as well as members of the Maserati and Porsche car clubs. Indeed, the presence of a bright red 1987 Porsche in the GCI parking lot is a sure sign that Jan Shipman will be at the front desk to greet you when you walk in.