History Colorado made more history today when, after a national search, its board of directors announced that they'd found the ideal executive director right here at home: interim leader Steve Turner.
Turner has worked with History Colorado since 2008, and was head of the State Historical Fund (your gambling dollars at work) and the Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation when he was appointed interim director last August, after Ed Nichols announced that he was retiring. “Steve Turner is a champion of preserving Colorado’s history and a highly effective executive who is ideally and uniquely suited to lead History Colorado,” said Governor John Hickenlooper in announcing the move. “Under his leadership, the organization has strengthened its finances while staying true to its mission and strengthening ties with key partners. History Colorado will be in excellent hands with Steve at the helm."
Turner has worked closely with the organization's board, which was reconfigured last year under legislation approved by the governor, to implement the board’s plan to ensure History Colorado’s long-term financial stability, while at the same time preserving the organization's mission of celebrating this state's history. That plan included layoffs at the new History Colorado Center, which opened in 2012, while at the same time strengthening connections with History Colorado's community museums.
“We went from a projected $2 million deficit for fiscal year 2016 to a balanced budget for 2017 with a plan to build on our cash reserves. That in and of itself is a great achievement,” said board chair Ann Pritzlaff. “To do it in a way that maintains all of our core functions and services while enhancing our mission and connection to our eight Community Museums — that is nothing short of remarkable.”
Ongoing strategic efforts include the development of a new five-year exhibit plan for the History Colorado Center with a strong focus on Colorado history. Those exhibits will pull from the organization’s vast collection of 15 million items from Colorado’s history — which had been largely ignored when the new History Colorado Center opened in April 2012 — to broaden the audience appeal of the History Colorado Center.
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(I came up with my own ideas on how to pull from that collection; read my six suggestions here.)