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 Post subject: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:13 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8780
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
From the Press Release:

Quote:
The B&O Railroad Museum is happy to announce the selection of Kris Hoellen as its new Executive Director. Ms. Hoellen, a senior vice president at the National Aquarium, will assume her new position in September 2018.

Ms. Hoellen joins the B&O Railroad Museum at a pivotal time as the museum is poised to adopt a new master plan to grow its impact on the west side of Baltimore, and to prepare for the 200th anniversary of American Railroading.

“To have the opportunity to help transform the museum into a showcase of history and innovation, and positively contribute to the economic development of the surrounding community is exceedingly gratifying, and I couldn’t be more honored with the opportunity”, said Ms. Hoellen.

Beyond her experience at the National Aquarium, Ms. Hoellen has a background in transportation having worked at the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences as well as at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Additionally, she has devoted much of her career to working with communities throughout the United States on becoming economically and environmentally healthy while a senior executive at The Conservation Fund.

“Kris brings the ideal background we were seeking as we prepare for growth and a new era at the B&O Museum”, said Francis Smyth, Chairman of the B&O Museum Board of Directors. “She has expertise in destination management, a background in transportation and community economic development, and most importantly, an entrepreneurial mindset to lead our efforts to transform west Baltimore and to guide us forward towards the 200th anniversary of American Railroading.”

Ms. Hoellen replaces Mr. Courtney Wilson, Executive Director of the Museum for the past 20 years, who announced his departure earlier this year. “We are so fortunate to find such a capable leader in Kris to assume the mantle from Courtney,” said Smyth. “With time for transition between the two, the Museum is postured to launch next steps towards our long term growth plans which begin with the construction of the Baltimore City Mounted Police Unit stables this summer.”

Ms. Hoellen was identified as a candidate for the position by the executive search firm Durakis Executive Search.


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1284
Location: Youngstown, OH
National Aquarium, The Conservation Fund. I wonder how someone who has a career in environmental nonprofits will fit into a facility dedicated to heavy industry. I just don't see how that experience translates into capabilities to address the unique challenges of a rail museum.

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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8780
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
At a place like the B&O Museum, they can hire a Director of Operations and/or a Curator to be the "railfan" that tells a Q-4 from a P-3. or an EMD from an FM.

The Executive Director needs to administrate, to wrangle PR, to schmooze the "society" folks, to get newspaper stories written, to talk the place up to corporate donors, to finagle grants, etc.

Nobody likes to admit it, but had a "railfan" been directing the Museum at the time of the roundhouse roof collapse, I'm not really sure they would have survived it, or at least not as they did.


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:01 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:29 am
Posts: 53
Location: Michigan
In addition to everything posted above, it is a [NEWS RELEASE].

It fits very well with this website’s Header.

A nice plus!

John


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:36 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1284
Location: Youngstown, OH
I am in no way suggesting hiring a railfan. What I am bringing up is a concern about the apparent belief that any executive from any nonprofit organization can just be plugged into any other nonprofit organization and that the status of being a nonprofit trumps all other considerations. I do not think that all nonprofits are that similar. Nonprofits are as varied as for profit corporations are.

It would be akin to putting an airline executive in charge of a passenger railroad and... oh wait.

I have seen this happen too many times in the past. A complete outsider is brought in who doesn't understand the business they are getting into. They make decisions based on their previous experience which doesn't work out so well in the rail museum environment, and then after mucking things up they leave and then another outsider is brought in to fix the damage. Courtney Wilson may not have been a railfan, but he was a Park Ranger and dealt with antiques so his experience was at least in the history realm. And as history has shown, the selection of Wilson was perhaps the best that the museum's board could have made.

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J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:05 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8780
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Rick Rowlands wrote:
Courtney Wilson may not have been a railfan, but he was a Park Ranger and dealt with antiques so his experience was at least in the history realm. And as history has shown, the selection of Wilson was perhaps the best that the museum's board could have made.


And yet, many railfans in the Baltimore area criticized him for that: "He knows nothing about railroads! He's a Civil War guy!" they'd say.

I can't count how many times I carefully explained the difference between being a docent or curator and being a nonprofit administrator to these same railfans, pointing out exactly what I pointed out in my previous post, and the people in question would just walk away mumbling, all but ready to shake the hand of their next unfortunate victim and pull out that stack of dogeared photos from their patch-covered vest to show you........... Okay, not that bad.

The B&O Museum has long had an awkward, at times contentious, relationship with its supposed core support community, local railfans. It's been said that the Museum and/or its staff has, at some point or another, both attracted to its volunteer fold and then driven away almost every local rail enthusiast for some disagreement or another. (One of the long running jokes is that the Baltimore Chapter NRHS, founded in 1936 by a guy who bled PRR red instead of B&O blue, attracted all the PRR and streetcar fans in town, and became the "pan-railroad" railfan group.) But I would still say that had that Museum "gone private" and continued to be run as a railfan enterprise instead of its management under Hankey and then Wilson, it probably wouldn't be there anymore, or be a mere shadow of its former self.


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:34 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:04 pm
Posts: 96
Location: San Jose, CA
Rick Rowlands wrote:
I just don't see how that experience translates into capabilities to address the unique challenges of a rail museum.


Fundraising
Community awareness & support
Fundraising
Strategic planning and action
Fundraising
Positive relationships with local agencies and officials
Fundraising

Did I miss anything unique to a railroad museum?

It appears their new ED has the background to address the fore mentioned challenges AND she is already part of the Baltimore community.

The nuts & bolts knowledge can be provided via the museum's staffing. CEO expertise and expectations are entirely separate.

Congrats to the B&O Museum's Board on their new hire.

Ken


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:27 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:55 pm
Posts: 15
Quote:
I just don't see how that experience translates into capabilities to address the unique challenges of a rail museum.


And therein lies the problem.

How many of us are savvy with people -- enough that we can draw millions of dollars in donations annually, ensure that no less than 20k people walk through the doors every month, ensure the bills and staff are paid, have no prior connection to the collection, and have a good rapport with the city where the museum is located?

I think this is a good move. I am going to make a bonehead move, and assume that B&ORR museum is the one and same in which many have tried to approach to help restore the collection and have been told to go pound sand (and not in the sand domes of said locomotives).

The place needs leadership that can take it further than it has been. I just looked at the National Aquarium's annual admission/group sales for FY16 and they had $29.5mil, an increase of approx. 3.5mil from FY15. That right there is a tremendous increase. If the B&O RR museum can see an increase of 13% in annual sales, think about what that could do for the museum?

I can understand the reaction that Rick Rowland had, and that's to be expected for people who are apprehensive about change. Anytime someone new is brought it that isn't already from the same field or a friend of so-and-so, such individual is immediately judged because the true possibilities are not realized by those who are in the industry, already employed there, or supporters of said community. Some organizations are lucky to have the leadership that works very well with the public and the community -- for instance, how often do you come across an industry oriented individual like Kelly Lynch, who, I think is in his early thirties, and able to establish contact with the media, railroads, and everyone else that can bring a game plan like this together? If you can't find that guy, then you need to look for the next option which is to find someone who CAN do those things, despite not having come from the industry?

There are museums out there struggling because they don't want to let go control of the place they've called home for the last twenty years. They don't want to let someone come in and say "Look, I will give you $20k to have someone come in and keep your exhibit from falling apart, and once they are done, it is still yours." They want to keep the exhibit alive somehow, or die trying. Good leadership and management will say "Look Bob, we understand that you have a very heavy personal attachment with this piece, but we need to save this piece and keep it from falling apart so we need to have you step aside so we can stabilize this exhibit and get it back in good condition before we have a bigger problem on our hands."

But perhaps the latter part of this post is material for a separate thread. I will step off my soapbox now.

-Mike


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:44 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5450
Location: southeastern USA
Hire leaders who know how to make your organization prosper and build resources. Those leaders also hire people with technical knowledge to handle the creation of exhibits, archives, restoration and conservation, operation, keeping the plumbing and HVAC working, grass cut, etc. What we do wrong a lot of the time is put great technical people in charge of what they can't do - especially if your BOD decision process is a popularity contest among volunteers whose primary interest is in operating stuff on weekends and knows or cares nothing about development, marketing, etc.

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Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:56 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3889
Location: Maine
Mr. Middlebrook stated it summarily. As long as a new director doesn't advocate cutting up locomotive to make room for other exhibits, the director has to keep the funding and interest resources open. What you want includes plenty of days when the number of attendees paying to get in pose difficulties for railfans trying to get a clear photo!
We are not enough to support our own causes.

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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2006 12:32 pm
Posts: 89
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
I certainly hope the new Director realizes the historical significance of their GG-1. I visited there for the first time in 10-years this past Sunday and was thrilled to see the "G" back on museum property and behind the security fence at their restoration shop. I also enjoyed seeing the Cumberland Valley Pioneer #3 on display. The last time I was up close and personal with her was 61-years ago in 1957 when the PRR had her on display at Millersburg PA along with the 7002, John Bull, and the Cumberland Valley Combine #55 in honor of the town's sesquicentennial.

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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8780
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Charlie High wrote:
I certainly hope the new Director realizes the historical significance of their GG-1. I visited there for the first time in 10-years this past Sunday and was thrilled to see the "G" back on museum property and behind the security fence at their restoration shop.

Please review past discussions about 4876.

The GG1 is there pretty much accidentally, has no place else it can go by rail except the nearby scrapyard, does NOT fit the current mission of the B&O RAILROAD Museum, and they would probably be most happy if you took it off their hands--it's all but "abandoned property."

Now, if someone can sway Museum management into believing this PRR orphan should fit their mission, go for it....... but it hasn't happened yet.


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 417
Location: Bowie, MD
She appears positioned to also deal with a issue that is rapidity creeping up on the museum: Gentrification.

I basically visit the museum during the Christmas season when my model train club has a layout set up.

This last December when I made the drive for the first time in several months, I was taken aback how the row homes starting at MLK drive moving west have started to be gentrified with Saabs, BMIs, SUV's parked out front and fewer bars on the windows. Closer and just pass the museum the "old" hood was back.

This is either a massive opportunity or disaster waiting to happen if the trend continues. This is referenced in the press release, so must be on the Board's list of things.

Fundraising, BTW, is the answer to the GG1 question.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1284
Location: Youngstown, OH
I must say that most of my concerns have been allayed by our knowledgeable RYPN members. Very good conversation!

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Rick Rowlands
J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"


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 Post subject: Re: B&O RR Museum Selects New Executive Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:06 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:23 pm
Posts: 16
Like any time a big hire is made there is going to be skepticism. It will be a change for sure, and like others have pointed out, she does not need to be a "railfan" by definition to fund raise and create partnerships. Executive Director's of most museums do this as their main function.

What I do know is that an outside firm was used to identify strong candidates for the job. A hiring committee on the board also spent months and months on this too, well before it was even announced publicly that Courtney Wilson was leaving. A lot went into this pick.

I actually laughed out loud when someone wrote that Courtney "isn't a railfan." His knowledge of this collection from small objects to locomotives is borderline encyclopedic. Unless you have worked with him day in and day out, and especially if you know him personally, there is no basis to that statement.

As always, it's as if the only locomotive in their collection is the GG-1...I like how that was brought into this somehow.

Above all else, we'll all just have to wait and see! A few bullet points and a photo about a persons work experience does not equal knowing the person. Patience everyone.


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