Ten years ago, my boss burst into the copier room and said “There’s an opening at Old City Park. You should apply. I’ve already sent them your resume.” I was working as an intern at Heritage Farmstead in Plano, so it’s perhaps less surprising that my current employer was trying so hard to get rid of me. I had an interview a few days later, was offered the job, and accepted.
At the time, I said to my mother that I figured this would be a 2-3 year stint and then I’d move on. I had assumed that there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunities to create new programs or leave my mark on the organization. My mother has spent most of the last ten years reminding me about how wrong I was.
In the last decade, I’ve worn many hats at the Village. Literally. From Programs Manager to Curator of Education to Director of Education to Associate Director to Interim Executive Director, I’ve had more than a few business cards–plus three different offices. Last week, the board named me President/Executive Director. I’m thinking this might be my last job title at DHV.
There are a few things that are a wee bit unusual about this transition. These days, it’s not common for anyone to stay with an organization for 10 years, much less rise through the ranks the way I have. But when your job keeps changing and your boss says yes to most of your crazy ideas, it’s easy to stay. Secondly, my predecessor, Gary Smith, still works at the Village. His office is within shouting distance, very handy when I have a question or need the backstory on a donor. It is possibly the smoothest leadership transition ever.
Gary led us through the recession. Now, we are poised at the beginning of some amazing opportunities. Investment and development dollars are flowing into the Cedars Neighborhood and the Farmer’s Market area. A new neighbor–and new collaborative partner–is moving into City Park Elementary. Vogel Alcove is a non-profit that provides childcare for homeless children up to age 5, and we are thrilled that children are once again occupying that historic school. We have several new events ahead of us in 2014–none of which would have been possible without our partners. These new relationships promise some pretty amazing days at the Village, along with the chance to welcome more friends to the Village. Important preservation work on our buildings continues–since 2011, we have completed seven major capital projects. This year, work is scheduled (and funded!) for the Depot, the Farmstead, and the Education Building. A new exhibit is being planned for the Depot. The Junior Historians just had their first meeting about a new School exhibit. Can’t you see why I’m so incredibly optimistic about our future?
There are days when I really miss being an educator. As fabulous as our board is, it is more fun to read stories to preschoolers than run board meetings. And as much as I enjoy discussing business partnerships, it still feels very odd to not be planning activities for Spring Fling. Because I’m stubborn, I am hanging on to two programs–I’ll still be running the museum’s book club and assisting with the Junior Historians. I will probably always be an educator at heart, but it is pretty exciting to be Executive Director.
It’s something I certainly never imagined 10 years ago.