Letter from the Presidents
By Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
and Paul A. Levengood, President-Elect and CEO-Elect
From Charles F. Bryan, Jr.:
What is required of the chief executive officer of a historical institution? Being well grounded in history is essential, but it's the day-to-day stuff—budget, personnel, working with a board, fund raising, planning for the future, making tough decisions, mixing and mingling with the public—that occupies most of a CEO's time. How do you learn those things? When I first became executive director more than 25 years ago, I had no management background, so I read everything I could relating to management theory, how to run a museum, and board/staff relations. I attended training seminars. All of these were helpful, but it took years of hands-on experience before I felt comfortable in the role of a CEO. Frankly, I'm still learning!
In May, I began working closely with Paul Levengood to help him assume the role of president and CEO on November 20. His previous eight years here already make him familiar with the daily operations and talented staff he will oversee. His natural instincts for leadership have been evident for a long time. I have no doubt that he will be ready and able to assume his official duties come November. Like me, however, no matter what I have been able to share with him, he will learn best from his own experience. Please join me in wishing him well for a long and successful tenure at the VHS.
From Paul A. Levengood:
Wow! Even after three months, my head is still spinning. First, I would be remiss not expressing my gratitude to the members of the extended VHS family for your good wishes about my appointment. It is personally gratifying to know that so many wish me well. But what has been most impressive is the genuine love that everyone has shown for this great institution and the work that we do. People want me to succeed so that the great momentum we have built up here continues. It is a task I take very seriously.
Happily for me, I have great people to lean on as I go through the learning process that Charlie describes above: loyal supporters, an engaged board, and a wonderful staff. I have already begun the first of many meetings with members of all three of these groups, and I will continue to have many more, as I pick the brains of all those who help make the VHS the best historical institution in the country. And of course, luckily for me, there is no more qualified teacher than Charlie Bryan.
Posted August 2008
• Letter archive
• Charles F. Bryan, Jr. biography