The historic Loudoun town of Waterford will lose one of its most ardent protectors Jan. 8 when Connie Chamberlain leaves as executive director of the Waterford Foundation.

The Waterford Foundation is a nonprofit organization with more than 300 members dedicated to the protection of the rural North Loudoun town and surrounding farmland.

During her eight years as director, Chamberlain has brought Waterford national and international attention in historic preservation circles. Waterford is a National Historic Landmark, which is the highest designation the United States gives to historic resources. It is also on the National Registration of Historic Places.

"A lot of people all over the country are aware of Waterford because of her," Elizabeth Smith Sullivan, president of the Waterford Foundation, said of Chamberlain. "Through the groups and organizations she belongs to she's made some fantastic connections. She's made the Waterford Foundation and herself a nationallly known quantity. She's a very smart girl and we're going to miss her."

"I'm going to miss them, too; they're a very exciting group of people," said Chamberlain, the first executive director of the foundation.

Chamberlain, 43, is also regional vice chairman of the Board of Advisers of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a founding member of the Preservation Alliance of Virginia and a a committee chairman of Gov. Gerald L. Baliles' Commission to Study Historic Preservation.

Chamberlain is leaving the foundation to become director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a nonprofit organization in Richmond, and to get married.

The Waterford Foundation's board of directors has formed a search committee to find a replacement for Chamberlain, who is also involved in the task.

"In doing the work I do I've made a great many friends in the field around the country and I'm doing all I can to make sure the board has a good candidate," Chamberlain said.

Waterford was founded by Quakers from Bucks County, Pa., in 1733. The town's 120 brick, log, stone and frame houses, plus 1,450 acres of farmland surrounding the town, are a national historic landmark. The Waterford Foundation, which was founded by concerned residents in 1943, owns several houses and parcels of land in the town. With Chamberlain's help the foundation has set up guidelines for building in the town and has worked with county, state and national agencies to ensure the historically intact town remains protected.