The Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has hired James (Jim) S. Russell to serve as its Interim Director for up to two-to-six months to replace outgoing Executive Director Brenda Abney. Abney’s last day as Director will be Monday, December 8. She is leaving to take a similar position in Tempe, Arizona.
Jim Russell is a local retired community college dean, businessman and community member, who has served on several local non-profit boards of directors including the Greater Wenatchee Habitat for Humanity, Chelan Douglas Land Trust, Numerica Performing Arts Center, and Wenatchee Downtown Rotary.
Board Member and spokesman Gil Sparks, who co-chaired the Search Committee for the Interim Director said board members personally solicited indications of interest for the interim director from among a wide variety of community members. “Russell was one of a dozen people who were willing to assist,” Sparks said.
Russell’s wife, Karen M. Russell, is the current President of the Board and Co-Chair of the Search Committee. She did not participate in Jim’s interview or ultimate selection. Contacts with the candidates and the interviews were conducted by Lynn Bourton, an external human resources consultant and Administrative Services Manager for Link Transit.
Committee members interviewed a number of potential candidates. The committee discussed the potential conflict of interest, but unanimously recommended Russell to the Board, which offered him the full-time position on Monday, December 1. He accepted and began work on Tuesday, December 2.
“We were happy to choose Russell because of his strong financial background, community service, longtime membership as a major donor, non-profit board experience and because he’s not interested in the permanent position and was able to begin immediately,” Sparks said.
When contacted, Mayor Frank Kuntz said, “I am pleased the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center has selected Jim and look forward to working with him and the Board.”
The Museum has a number of urgent projects that need to be completed, including finalizing discussions with the City regarding ongoing funding commitment in return for transitioning the director’s position to the Museum’s non-profit association and the Association undertaking the full gamut of the Museum’s administrative services.
The Museum is also presently discussing with the City of East Wenatchee developing a long term regional partnership and additional financial support.
In addition to hiring a new director, the Museum will be moving forward to replace the curator, Mark Behler, who is retiring December 31.
“Meanwhile we will be continuing to serve the thousands of visitors who attend Museum events annually, organized by our excellent staff and volunteers who continually donate their time and talent on behalf of the Museum,” Sparks said.
“We have been fortunate Brenda Abney’s leadership skills and creative energy have laid the foundation for a new era as the irreplaceable repository of artifacts for the history, science, arts and multicultural diversity of our region,” he said.
The Museum is holding a reception open to the public to honor Abney for her service on Monday, December 8 at 4:00 pm at the Museum.