"'Give life to history' really does embody our organizational values," Holland stressed. "It's not just saving old buildings to create museums. We are trying to bring them back to life. We see historic preservation as a tool for economic development, as a critical generator of local jobs and consumer of local materials. It creates a tax base and improves stability. At the same time, it reinforces the unique sense of place that defines our communities."
YPA works to achieve its mission through programs, events, tours and activities, like the Pittsburgh Preservation Summit and the Youth Mainstreet Advisors program, a service-learning opportunity for area high-schoolers.
More than 1,800 people have participated in the organization's offerings, and while YPA currently focuses on Western PA, its 350 members hail from 19 states. Holland regularly fields questions from other interested communities.
YPA strives to engage young people, but the goal is much larger.
"Youth are the future, simply put," explained Holland. "We really need to start involving the next generation in our communities as the doers and the shakers of our future. What we're really about, though, is this intergenerational effect. We are trying to create a synergy between the older generation and the younger because you can't have one without the other. The older generation has the memories, the knowledge, the wherewithal, and we need to think about how we do a 'download' of their information and cultural values to the next generation."
Holland has a special fondness for Carnegie Mellon, and not only because of his father, Harry Holland (A'61), professor of art for 30 years and creator of a groundbreaking painting and drawing computer program.
"I would not be here today if it weren't for Carnegie Mellon. It gave me the skills and the knowledge to be able to do the work I do now. There are some brilliant and gifted professors that I was really fortunate to work with. My love of history and historic preservation was fueled by professors like Joel Tarr and Joe Trotter and I'm still working with them today."
Like his father, Holland appreciates the multidisciplinary capabilities of the university and the centers that illustrate this strength — like Carnegie Mellon's Urban Laboratory and Western Pennsylvania Brownfields Center.
"I think that the more we can absorb and take advantage of the vast educational opportunities that Carnegie Mellon has to offer," Holland said, "the richer life will be."