This story appeared in the September issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
The Preservation Resource Center is thrilled to announce that Whiton Paine, formerly PRC’s Membership and Development Coordinator, has been named our new Director of Development.
Through several staff changes in the department and an unusually taxing environment due to COVID-19, Paine has kept PRC’s fundraising endeavors steady, meeting our annual goals despite so much uncertainty, and executing a record-breaking GiveNOLA Day. His success over the past three years at the PRC makes him wonderfully qualified for this new role.
Paine is a New Orleans native who grew up with PRC always in the periphery. As a student at Ben Franklin High School, he volunteered with Christmas in October, a PRC program at that time. Over the years, he has been a Preservation in Print advertiser, and has catered PRC events as a private chef. He also has family members who have worked and volunteered at the PRC. So, when he saw the job listing for Membership and Outreach Coordinator in 2018, he thought, “This makes total sense.”
Paine didn’t always anticipate a career in historic preservation. After graduating from Emory University with an undergraduate degree, Paine’s passion for policy work led him to a position with an Atlanta-based environmental nonprofit that focused on sustainable development and energy efficiency. His two years as a research fellow at the Southface Energy Institute inspired him to go to law school to hone his skills in policy work.
Paine came back to New Orleans to attend Tulane Law School. After graduating, Paine took the Louisiana Bar and passed, but shortly thereafter, Hurricane Katrina hit. In a truly fascinating twist, Paine and his wife Archana were presented the opportunity to buy one of their favorite restaurants, Dick and Jenny’s, with friends — and they seized it. “New Orleans was like the Wild West” when they bought the restaurant in the fall of 2005, he said. “I loved to cook and my job situation was tenuous, so it seemed like a risk worth taking. More importantly, I was driven by the desire that New Orleans should not die,” Paine said. “Preserving the things I loved most about the city was of the utmost importance, and food is one of the most important parts of our culture.”
For five years, Paine was an owner of Dick and Jenny’s cooking in the kitchen every day, keeping the beloved restaurant’s traditions alive even as so much of the city struggled to recover. After leaving Dick and Jenny’s, he started his own private catering and personal chef business, Whit’s for Dinner. He made dinnertime delicious for many New Orleanians for over six years.
During that time, Paine became a father and a devoted McGehee School dad. He was asked to help with the school’s annual giving campaign for parents, and became a dedicated volunteer for the school, whose fundraising prowess is lauded city-wide. “I truly enjoyed it and made great relationships – and learned a lot from the fundraising professionals at McGehee,” he said.
While he loved cooking for a living, Paine was itching to get back into the nonprofit sector to do important work for the city when he came to work at the PRC in 2018. “As a lifelong New Orleanian, preservation of our city is critically important to me,” he said. “I am a firm believer in PRC’s mission and the work that we do, and having watched it for decades, knowing the PRC’s strong presence and reputation as a leader appealed to me. What I lacked in knowledge of Historic Preservation as a field, the mission that it’s based around is very important to me.
“New Orleans is a unique city, and we at the PRC are in a unique position to ensure that the New Orleans that we love to live in and that visitors love to visit is in place for centuries to come,” he said.
We’re so happy to have this Renaissance Man as PRC’s new Director of Development. Please reach out to Whiton for any of your membership or donation needs! His email is email@example.com.
Danielle Del Sol is the Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center.