Colin G. Campbell
Message from the President
A Time for Transition
Any person privileged to lead an institution as extraordinary, celebrated, and vital as The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation works to bestow on his successor an organization more robust, valuable, and vibrant than he found it. That, at bottom, has been my agenda since the foundation’s trustees asked me to become the organization’s seventh president and chief executive officer fourteen years ago. It remains my agenda as the search for the eighth begins.
You may recall that I considered retirement in 2008, an aspiration postponed by the Great Recession. A leadership change during those difficult days would have been unfair to the foundation and to a new administration. As the recovery gained momentum, however, I began to confer again with my wife, Nancy, and our trustees about the right time for a transition in executive responsibilities. That time has come.
We announced the search for a new foundation president in January. As Chairman Thomas Farrell said then, “Succession is a primary focus for any well-managed organization and a leading responsibility of the board of trustees.”
A succession committee is sitting, and a national executive recruiting firm, Storbeck/Pimentel, has been retained. No date has been set for the completion of their work. The board’s focus, Chairman Farrell said, “is on fulfilling this responsibility in a manner that best serves the interests and standards of the institution.” Which is another way of saying that the selection of a strategic and operational leader for an institution as complex as Colonial Williamsburg requires care and time.
The chief executive officer is responsible, among other things, for promoting the foundation’s purposes, and for insuring its financial health; for being its chief spokesperson, fund-raiser, and ambassador; and for overseeing its educational, hospitality, and commercial enterprises. A Colonial Williamsburg president must articulate to its guests, employees, donors, volunteers, and host community the institution’s value as a national asset; its contribution to the understanding of history, democracy, and citizenship; and its strategic vision.
The search is on for an engaging, creative, and energetic leader equipped to shape the foundation’s future. The objective is to find a person of high integrity and ethical standards, with a passion for furthering Colonial Williamsburg’s role as a center for history and citizenship, and prepared to strengthen the foundation’s resources, extend its reach, and enhance its position in American culture.
In short, the foundation is looking for a person skilled in strategic and organizational leadership, as well as fundraising and advocacy, and with creative and inspirational vision.
The bar is high, but so are the satisfactions of guiding Colonial Williamsburg toward realization of its noble purpose. Take my word for it. My enthusiasm for the job is undiminished. I will remain fully committed to it until the search is completed and there has been a reasonable period for transition.
The succession process signals no distraction from my or the foundation’s pursuit of its goals, among them advancing our multifaceted education and programming initiatives, our efforts to achieve financial equilibrium through earned income and philanthropy, and our determination to be relevant and influential in these challenging times.
There is no standing still at Colonial Williamsburg, even for a retiring president and chief executive officer. Nevertheless, even in a time of change—especially in times of change—there is a constant, and that is mindfulness of the foundation’s enduring mission: That the future may learn from the past.
Colin G. Campbell
President and CEO