Watermark’s Director of Land Operations Heather Skipper was awarded “Heritage Professional of the Year” by Four Rivers: The Heritage Area of Annapolis, London Town & South County at the 11th Annual Heritage Awards on November 6, 2014 at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. Heather Skipper was recognized for her dedication, vision, partnership, and support of the heritage interpretation for diverse audiences in our area. As Director of Land Operations for Watermark, Skipper manages a staff of over 60 tour guides, recruits employees, plans an intensive annual training series, develops historical tours, schedules thousands of public and private tour shifts each year and maintains partner relationships with area historic properties, heritage groups, government agencies and the United States Naval Academy.
Speaking on her award, Heather Skipper says, “I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to represent Watermark at the Four Rivers Heritage Awards. Many thanks to all the tour guides and Watermark staff that allowed me to receive this award – without their support I’d be unable to do this. Thank you to Executive Director Carol Benson and the members of the Four Rivers Heritage Area for recognizing my accomplishments.” Skipper has been in her current role since 2008; however, her Watermark roots date back to her college years when she worked as the Vessel Operations Assistant at Annapolis City Dock. President of Watermark Debbie Gosselin says, “: I am grateful to the decision makers at … for recognizing Heather’s contribution to the historic interpretation of our area. Heather’s professionalism and dedication not just to history but to its accurate and enjoyable interpretation by our guide force of over sixty individuals are truly remarkable and only exceeded by her commitment to customer service. Annapolis and the State of Maryland benefit from her leadership.”
In her unique position at Watermark, Skipper oversees the daily operations and logistics of Watermark’s land tours which have been in operation for over 30 years. Skipper’s team of tour guides come from diverse backgrounds including, but not limited to, educators, Naval Academy alumni, NSA and CIA retirees, medical professionals and even a former Mayor of Annapolis. Former Mayor Richard Hillman, known at Watermark as “Squire Richard” says of Heather, “Heather Skipper occupies an unenviable position of having to supervise 60+ costumed colonial tour guides all of whom are older than she is (some by 4+ decades!), in a supremely time-sensitive environment, with tours being conducted in a vibrant, live setting surrounded by governmental, military, business, and residential activities, and still, with all that pressure, appear at ease and in control while assuring that the thousands of visitors who annually engage Watermark services have an experience that exceeds their expectations.”
The Heritage Awards recognize individuals, organizations, partnerships, programs and products that contribute significantly to the community by interpreting, promoting, preserving, researching and/or supporting our historical legacy. The Heritage Professional of the Year award recognizes an author, archaeologist, architect, artist, exhibits/publications designer, historian, natural resource professional, preservationist, professional staff person, or researcher, for significant professional contributions to heritage interpretation, stewardship, and/or education in the past year.