by Fred Leeson

The long-awaited new era at the Bosco-Milligan Foundation and the Architectural Heritage Center is finally underway, and I am deeply pleased to report that the early signs are all positive.

I say “finally” underway because it feels like 10 years between Cathy Galbraith’s retirement in January and the arrival of our new executive director, Stephanie Whitlock, in mid-August.  The intervening months were filled with significant internal changes, and I will get back to those in a moment.

First, however, I want to assure you that after her first days on the job, it became apparent to me that Stephanie Whitlock brings all the characteristics to the job that 1) we believed she would as a result of our executive search and 2) are absolutely essential to the continued success of the foundation and its preservation-based mission.   She is bright, well-versed in architectural history, personable, insightful and not afraid to make decisions once relevant facts are placed before her.  It likely will take a couple more months before she is ready to establish her managerial priorities, but she is preparing for that day by maintaining an aggressive schedule of staff interviews, introductions to key people inside and outside of the foundation and attending numerous foundation committee meetings and walking tours. I suspect it will take very little time for her to earn your respect once you meet her – if you haven’t already.

At the same time, I wish to tell you what a wonderful job Holly Chamberlain did as managing director between Cathy’s departure and Stephanie’s arrival.  She had two staff vacancies to fill – one expected and the other quite sudden – and she added two excellent and thoroughly professional employees.  Sam (Samantha) Freeman has replaced the long-serving Philip Austin as our visitor services and administrative assistant.  Philip had planned to retire at roughly the same time as Cathy, but graciously agreed to stay on a few extra months to help smooth the transition.  Sam brings formal preservation training as well as a personable and efficient demeanor.  Much of her time is spent at the front desk, where visitors and members are likely to meet her.

The other vacancy came on much shorter notice.  Barbara Pierce, our public relations manager for several years, moved with her husband, C.J. Hurley, to Pennsylvania to be close to aging parents experiencing medical issues.  Working at a fast pace, Holly Chamberlain evaluated several candidates and selected one of our board members, Nanette Thrush, to fill Barbara’s post.  As a result, Nanette has resigned from the board.  She holds a doctorate in art history and is well-versed in the kinds of social media tools we need to stay abreast of the fast-changing era of public communications.  I think it’s interesting that both these hires started at the AHC as volunteers.  It is another measure of the quality of people we attract with our programs and advocacy work.

With Stephanie Whitlock’s arrival, Holly Chamberlain reverts to her former title of deputy director.  As I knew she would, she is providing invaluable assistance to Stephanie in understanding our history, our membership, our personnel, our challenges, our successes and the maintenance foibles of our magnificent 1883-era building.

All BMF members and supporters should be pleased that Holly intends to remain with us for the foreseeable future.  She is too thorough of a professional to seek the limelight or to dwell on her achievements.  However, I hope that many of you will find a quiet moment one of these days to extend  thanks for a job well done.  It is richly deserved.

One other thing: Please remember our annual Heritage Auction on Oct. 8.  It is our biggest fundraising event of the year, and it is critical to our continued success.  It also will be an opportunity for you to meet Stephanie Whitlock if you haven’t already.  Hope to see you there!