Project Specialist, Education
Kecia was born in Hawaii and spent her early years there. When she was thirteen, she and her family left for the mainland, moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. Dance was an early love of hers, and by high school she was a member of the All City Dance Theatre Ensemble. She enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in New York for its dance and liberal arts programs, but she soon decided that focusing on dance would not give her enough freedom to explore other interests. In addition to courses in Asian studies and a year of Tibetan studies in Nepal, Kecia had internships at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Settlement Housing Fund (SHF). Each experience nourished her interest in the dynamic relationships among communities, their identities, and the built environment.
For several years after graduation, she worked in New York City in community development with the SHF, and she also interned at architectural firms. During the same period, she spent a summer in Beijing studying Mandarin, along with her grandmother from Hawaii. Her interest in tradition, history, and culture prompted her to gravitate toward historic preservation, and in 1994 she entered the historic preservation master's program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her graduate studies included fieldwork at several sites in the United States, as well as in Cairo, where she worked for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture on the development of a conservation plan for the historic Islamic quarter. After completing her studies, Kecia worked for the U.S. National Park Service, for a private architectural conservation firm in New York, and for an Italian conservation firm with projects in Turkey and Italy. In 2000 she joined the San Francisco branch of an engineering firm to help develop their architectural conservation practice, a position that provided her with valuable experience in project management.
In 2003 Frank Matero, Kecia's professor at the University of Pennsylvania, convinced her to apply for a position in the Education section of the GCI. She had always been interested in education and had enjoyed doing field training with graduate students, so it was an opportunity she welcomed. Her work at the Institute has included preparation for an upcoming workshop in Tunisia on site conservation and management and conducting an assessment of the education and training needs of built heritage conservation in Southeast Asia. The international character of the work and the chance to collaborate with colleagues who share her belief in the importance of that work has been extremely gratifying.