Chooses New Board Leadership Appoints Interim President and CEO

Press Release Date: May 25, 2022

The Montpelier Foundation Board of Directors today announced actions to restore the reputation and strengthen the finances of the Presidential plantation and museum.

First, the board announced the election of James French as chairperson. French, a banking and technology executive whose ancestral home is near Montpelier, commences his second term on the Foundation board. French now concludes his role as the first chairman of the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC), a 300-member organization that includes descendants of those enslaved by the Madisons or on plantations throughout the region. French’s election as chairperson culminates a years-long effort to achieve the milestone of parity in the governance of Montpelier. On May 16, 2022, the board appointed 11 new directors identified by the descendant community to join three previous appointees, including French. The delay in achieving parity with MDC caused significant concern among Montpelier staff, visitors, donors, and program partners, which the newly reconstituted board seeks to quickly allay through changes in leadership.   

The board also elected as co-vice chairs Stephanie Meeks, former CEO and president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Hasan Kwame Jeffries, a civil rights scholar and public historian. The board elected Joshua D. Rothman, a scholar of American slavery, as secretary, and Peter McHugh, a retired travel industry executive, as treasurer.

Additionally, the board accepted the resignation of President and CEO Roy F. Young, II, who had served at Montpelier since April 2020.

Finally, the board announced the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth Chew as Interim President and CEO. Chew most recently served as Montpelier’s Executive Vice President and Chief Curator, and has thirty years of experience in museum leadership. French stated, “Elizabeth has the full confidence of Montpelier’s dedicated staff. Her reputation for visionary leadership is recognized nationally. Her willingness to take the helm during this critical period will do much to help us turn the page to Montpelier’s next and best chapter.” Chew remarked: “Montpelier’s stories are among the most powerful tools for education and inspiration of any site in this nation. But to unleash that power we must embrace history’s complexity and welcome the leadership of the living voices for those who were silenced here. I ask all who share in this vision to support it, by returning with me to Montpelier, as visitors, donors, partners, and champions.”  

# # #

ABOUT JAMES MADISON’S MONTPELIER Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and fourth President of the United States. As a monument to James Madison and the Enslaved Community, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education, Montpelier engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people. The historic home and 2,700-acre grounds are open to visitors and student groups throughout the year, and the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at Montpelier offers world-class residential and online educational programs. Montpelier is administered by The Montpelier Foundation and is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site. To learn more, visit