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Stepping Back…and Stepping Forward!

130926_0015After 18 years as president and executive director of Dallas Heritage Village, I have officially stepped back into a part-time role as director of strategic projects. In that new role I will now assist with capacity building fund raising and other projects at the Village, focusing first on the future of our property at 1610 South Ervay (formerly Yellow Cab), and later on endowment fund raising and planned giving.

Succeeding me at Dallas Heritage Village is Melissa Prycer, who has been appointed Interim Executive Director by the Board of Trustees. Melissa has worked closely with me for many years, serving as educator and associate director and absorbing steadily increasing responsibility through the years. Well regarded both at the Village and by her museum peers statewide (and nationally), Melissa is full of energy and optimism for the Village, and I am excited by her vision for the future.

I have loved my time at the Village and am grateful that my transition away will be a gradual one over the next two years. In addition to my remaining duties with DHV, I am now stepping forward into a new role coordinating an initiative sponsored by the Summerlee Foundation. The Summerlee Commission on the Sustainability of History Organizations is the new initiative, and its purpose will be to seek solutions for the long-term challenges to the sustainability of history museums, historic house museums, historical societies, and other historical organizations.

This is a dream project for me, as I have worked for history museums for over 30 years now. Although I love history museums, historical societies, and house museums, I am also greatly concerned for their future. History organizations, quite frankly, are generally at the bottom of the funding hierarchy in almost every community, and many struggle, especially when compared to their counterparts in the art and science disciplines.

This new commission, guided by a steering committee of museum professionals from around the state, will be looking at the most common problems facing history museums and then searching for solutions, and for examples of history organizations in communities where they are successful. Although we will initially concentrate on Texas, this quest will quickly move beyond our borders, and we will be looking for success models in all parts of the country.

For those of you who are fans of history organizations and have ideas for me to consider, please get in touch with me. I will be easy to find as I continue to work out of my office at Dallas Heritage Village for the next two years. Meanwhile, watch what now happens with the Village under the leadership of Melissa and the many new members of our board of trustees!

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