After nearly 4 years as Executive Director of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, Julie Hall Williams will be leaving in February to join The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees), the 10th largest nonprofit in Massachusetts as Director of Annual Giving and Major Giving.
For Williams, leaving the Museum is decidedly bittersweet. “I have loved being here at the American Independence Museum and working to put us on the map as a cultural destination in the region,” she said. “I have previously worked at The Trustees of Reservations and I am excited to be intricately involved in projects that will enliven museums, beaches, trails and historic places that see almost 2 million individuals annually.”
Noting a transition and search team has already been formed by the Board of Governors, President Sue Desjardins applauded Williams for her service. She cited 2016 as “irrefutable proof” that the Museum is “clearly on the right path and moving forward with positive momentum.”
“Under Julie’s leadership, we broke a record with more than 5,000 visitors in each of the past two years and we doubled our donations through corporate and leadership giving,” she said.
Desjardins noted that under Julie’s leadership the Museum has also added a successful Ambassadors program, enhanced its facilities and collections, and expanded its programs and events, which include the American Independence Festival in July. Other milestones in the past four years have included completing the Museum’s first long range strategic business plan, expanding its web/social media presence, improving its physical plant and landscape, and comprehensively cataloguing the entire Museum collection (6,000+ pieces).
In looking ahead for the Museum, Desjardins said the key is “to keep that trajectory going upward.”
“We have detailed plans that include several large projects ready for execution in education, exhibits, programs, and events—all aimed at enhancing our standing and impact,” she said. “Our ultimate goal is that visitors leave inspired with a heightened appreciation of our Nation’s fight for independence and a renewed sense of the importance of civic engagement today.”
As for her immediate future, Williams expressed excitement at returning to The Trustees and new challenges, including lead fundraising initiatives for more than $3M in annual operating support. Founded in 1891 and celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2016, The Trustees is the first land preservation nonprofit of its kind in the world and the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization.
“I live locally and will continue to be a Museum member,” added Williams. “I’m still committed to the Museum.”
Expressing enthusiasm for the upcoming year at the Museum, Desjardins said the governing board’s goal is to have a new Executive Director in place by May 1, which is the beginning of the Museum’s 2017 season. In seeking to attract the best candidates possible, she said they have ‘cast a wide net’ by advertising for the position on a number of different platforms.
“Because Julie has left us in very good stead and because the Museum has a solid foundation of supporters, we are looking forward to smooth transition,” she added.
Among thousands of items, the American Independence Museum’s collection includes an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and handwritten letters by George Washington. Comprised of the Ladd-Gilman House (c.1721) and Folsom Tavern (c.1775) on more than one acre of landscaped property, the Museum hosts public educational programs and lectures, colonial artisan demonstrations, guided tours, and special events.
To learn more about the Museum, including its summer programs, visit www.independencemuseum.org.