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Cincinnati Museum Center CEO announces retirement

Retirement focus will be farm, family & Union Terminal restoration project

Cincinnati – Douglass W. McDonald announced, today, that he will retire from his position as CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at the organization’s upcoming annual meeting on January 15, 2015. Mr. McDonald has held this position for almost 16 years.He will remain as a consultant to the Union Terminal restoration project, led by the CMC Board of Trustees.Elizabeth Pierce, CMC’s Chief Operating Officer, will serve as interim CEO on McDonald’s departure.

Douglass W. McDonald
Douglass W. McDonald
“Doug’s vision and efforts, and that of CMC Board members and the outstanding staff at the Cincinnati Museum Center over the last 16 years have led us to this moment of transition where the organization is thriving and poised for its next great steps,” said Francie S. Hiltz, Chair of the Museum Center Board of Trustees.

“The restoration of Union Terminal and the transformation it will have on CMC is of the utmost importance to us. The Board of Trustees, and I, are most grateful for all that Doug and his team have done to make Museum Center a valued community asset and understand his desire to transition its leadership at this time.”

Elizabeth Pierce will assume responsibility as interim CEO on January 15, 2015. Pierce has served on the CMC leadership team since 2007 in marketing, curatorial and program management roles.

“Museum Center is entering an exciting new phase.Our team is deeply honored by the response from our community on Election Day.It is humbling to know how many people and generations care about Union Terminal and Cincinnati Museum Center.Union Terminal’s restoration will create great energy in our region and be a platform to continue Museum Center’s vibrant learning experiences. I look forward to working with our talented staff and Board of Trustees to ensure CMC continues to provide world-class museum experiences for our community,” Pierce said.

When McDonald began in 1999, the museum experienced a $2.3 million operating deficit which consumed 26% of the museum’s endowment. Today the museum is debt free and has over $50 million in endowment.During his tenure, Cincinnati Museum Center merged with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in 2012, and both were accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2012 and 2013, respectively.Cincinnati Museum Center was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Museum Service by the Institute of Museum & Library Services and was selected by Neil Armstrong, in 2006, as the place to donate and display his moon rock.

Under McDonald’s entrepreneurial leadership, Cincinnati Museum Center has developed a nationally recognized program to pursue and host world-class exhibitions, bringing to our region: Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition; St. Peter and the Vatican; Real Pirates: The Untold Story of The Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship;BODIES…The Exhibition; Freedom’s Sisters; Dinosaurs Alive;America I Am: The African American Imprint; Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt; A Day in Pompeii;Dead Sea Scrolls; Dinosaurs Unearthed; and Diana, A Celebration.Through the combined partnership, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center presented the exhibit Women Hold Up Half the Sky, based on Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn’s award-winning book, and launched the largest nationally touring exhibit of story quilts, And Still We Rise, in partnership with the Women of Color Quilters Network.As a result, Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center have welcomed tens of millions of visitors and generated significant economic impact for the region.
“After careful reflection on the accomplishments of my almost 16 years at Cincinnati Museum Center and the past 30 in the museum field, I am retiring with a full heart,” said Doug McDonald”Among the greatest accomplishments is the successful passage of Issue 8 to secure the future and full restoration of our Union Terminal home. The pursuit of this goal has been relentless, filled with my complete passion. I am pleased to play a part in the restoration, but also need to acknowledge the breadth of my efforts and my desire for a major change in my life, reconnecting with my childhood farming roots and enjoying nature outside Ripley, Ohio. This is a natural time to transition our institutional leadership.We have an incredible team that has been the driving force with me to get this done.Our staff has the full scope of the vision for what CMC will become in the fully restored Union Terminal, plus, the ideas, energy and expertise to deliver it to our community. ”

With the passage of Issue 8 in November, 2014, Cincinnati Museum Center’s Board of Trustees has begun the process of working with the Hamilton County and subject matter experts to implement the full scope of the restoration as evaluated and presented by the Cultural Facilities Task Force.

“It has been a great pleasure to be a part of the success of Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.Our community benefits from some of the very best people I have ever known who work passionately every day to create memorable and inspiring learning experiences,” added McDonald.