Meet Our Global Team 

Preserving Legacies is powered by a growing team of diverse climate heritage champions. Get to know the thought leaders, scientists, storytellers, site custodians, and community advocates on a mission to safeguard every site against current and future climate impacts. 

Illustration of a diverse group of Preserving Legacies Team members. A black male scientist in a lab coat, a white man in sweater, an asian female artist and a latina archeologist group together infront of a globe.

Leadership Team

Managed by National Geographic Explorer Dr. Victoria Herrmann, this ambitious project requires a global organization and dedicated team to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate all project activities. Meet them below.

Julianne Polanco

Senior Advisor
Julianne Polanco advises for Preserving Legacies and the communities the program supports to reach further in our collective impact. Julianne is a heritage professional with more than two decades of experience, from the international to local levels, focused on building rehabilitation, historic site stewardship, cultural heritage, climate change, and public policy. Her extensive work in the natural resources, environmental, and land conservation arenas has been on behalf of a member of Congress, California Governors, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. Currently the California State Historic Preservation Officer, Julianne oversees preservation laws, working in collaboration with Tribal nations, adjacent communities, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations, to steward cultural and historic resources. She is dedicated to helping ensure that the stories of all communities are present in the rich and beautiful mosaic of our shared history. A primary focus of her work is on the intersection of cultural heritage and climate action, the voices of communities to create a just, low carbon, resilient future. Julianne is a founding member and Immediate Past Co-Chair of the Climate Heritage Network and a Fellow of the Urban Land Institute's Sustainability Council. Julianne Polanco has served as a commissioner on the California State Historical Resources Commission Since 2005, for the last three years as chair, and as Director of Cultural Resources for Lend Lease since 2006. She was Senior Preservation Specialist at the Presidio Trust from 1999 to 2006, and Assistant to the Vice President for programs at the World Monuments Fund from 1998 to 1999. Her professional work as also included serving as Advisor to the Chairman of California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Dr Salma Sabour

Director of Science
Salma spearheads the integration of cutting-edge climate heritage science and methodologies, delivering training in climate model and data downscaling. Through her work, she fosters co-creation, inclusivity, and integration of plural knowledge systems into Preserving Legacies workshops, and facilitates partnerships between communities, heritage professionals, and climate science organizations. Salma holds a double physical and environmental engineering degree from the University of Liege, Belgium, and Ecole Centrale Paris, France. Her interdisciplinary PhD research at the University of Southampton focused on the risk, vulnerability, and resilience of coastal Natural World Heritage Sites and communities to climate change and sea-level rise. Salma has collaborated with esteemed researchers, participated in international research projects, and published in premiere journals including Environmental Research Letters and Nature Climate Change. Salma has consulted for local governments and international organizations, including the IPCC, ICOMOS, UNESCO, the World Bank, and UNDP, on heritage, climate change, waste management, coastal management, and environmental issues. She actively promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion and has received recognition for her engagement in public outreach, fundraising, and collaborate projects. In her personal life, Salma raises awareness about climate change, participates in political actions, supports various causes, and enjoys activities such as tending to a collective garden, exploring nature, and playing saxophone. Through her multifaceted pursuits, Salma embodies an unwavering commitment to co-creating positive change and forging a more sustainable and vibrant future for all. Get in touch with Salma at

Site Custodians

The site custodians of Preserving Legacies are the heart of this project. Each site in Preserving Legacies is represented by two site custodians, who come from community organizations, management authorities, and nonprofits to learn about climate heritage and act at their sites.


This project team deeply believes that artists have a unique and vital role to play in responding to climate change, and believes in the power of creative communication in raising awareness of climate change impacts. Through their work, artists can foster personal and emotional connection to the issue, encourage empathy and collaboration, imagine new futures, and in so doing help effect positive change. 

Preserving Legacies provides meaningful support to local artists to take part in this project, document the process of protecting cultural heritage sites from climate change impacts, foster connections between project members and the artist, and include artist in a global community of practice on climate heritage with other artists, heritage professionals, scientists, educators, and advocates tackling climate change. 

The work created through this residency will allow communities across the world to see and experience the project’s process, work, and mission to protect heritage sites from climate change impacts. Artists will create site-inspired artwork and document the process of the project. 

Check back for updates from our artists-in-residence here.

Our partners

Preserving Legacies is made possible by our partners, who share our vision to enable cultural heritage sites big and small to access the tools needed to address the existential threat of climate change. By partnering with leading organizations in cultural heritage, climate change, and community empowerment, we can transform conservation as a field to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.

ICOMOS works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places. It is the only global non-government organisation of this kind, which is dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology, and scientific techniques to the conservation of the architectural and archaeological heritage. It is a global network of experts that benefits from the interdisciplinary exchange of its members, among which are architects, historians, archaeologists, art historians, geographers, anthropologists, engineers and town planners. ICOMOS members contribute to improving the preservation of heritage, the standards and the techniques for each type of cultural heritage property: buildings, historic cities, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites. ICOMOS is the primary partner and fiscal sponsor of the Preserving Legacies project and our team are members of different national committees including France, USA, Ireland and Tunisia.

The Climate Heritage Network (CHN) is a voluntary, mutual support network of government agencies, NGOs, universities, businesses, and other organizations committed to tackling climate change and achieving the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Mobilized in 2018 during the Global Climate Action Summit and launched in 2019, the Climate Heritage Network works to re-orient climate policy, planning, and action at all levels to account for dimensions of culture - from arts to heritage.

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.