For the first time, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation has named a woman to lead the organization. Heather Campion will become the new CEO in March. The former acting director Tom McNaught is retiring.
She comes from a diverse background in banking and politics, working at Northeast Bancorp as a chief administrative officer and Citizens Bank as an executive. In politics, she has worked for the Carter administration in the speechwriting office and held senior positions on the Democratic presidential campaigns of former Vice President Walter Mondale in 1984 and Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1988. She has also worked at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Campion will be putting in place a long-range plan for the foundation that was developed following 50th anniversary celebrations of the Kennedy presidency. The plan calls for redesigning museum displays and adding new technology to exhibits.
“The biggest challenge for any library or museum is to continue to engage people beyond their geography," Campion told WBUR's Lisa Mullins on Radio Boston. "Thanks to this new project I think we’re going to be able to do that. We’re going to be able to have displays and exhibits more frequently than we have in the past.”
In addition, the Kennedy Library has launched an online digital presidential archive, introduced a website that has served more than 7 million visitors since 2011, and sponsored national programs on civil rights, public service and responsible citizenship.
“This is the most sophisticated online digitization process of any presidential library in the country," Campion said. "When we’re finished, all of the most important documents from President Kennedy’s administration will be available online to anyone, anywhere in the world.”
Maintaining the legacy and relevance of a president who served more than 50 years ago should not be a major challenge, according to Campion.
"His words are as powerful as his image and his message still resonates," she said. "What jumped out to me was just his sheer optimism and confidence in our country and in our ability as Americans to do anything we set our minds to do.... I think his museum reflects that, and I think it’s our job to carry on that spirit in the next decade."
Campion is to start her job at the foundation on March 3.
Heather Campion, CEO of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
This article was originally published on January 29, 2014.
This segment aired on January 29, 2014.