TN museum fundraising chair resigns over $40K fundraising gig for retiree

The longtime chair of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation, Bobby Thomas, has resigned that position after the board voted to hire outgoing museum Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell for a $40,000-per-year job, reports Nashville Post Politics. The foundation is a n0n-profit group that raises money for the museum and recently voted — with Thomas absent — to give Riggins-Ezzell a post-retirement job as fundraiser with unspecified duties.

“It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve on the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board for over twenty-six years and as your Chair for the last six years,” Thomas wrote in an email sent to board members Monday. “At the age of 75, I believe it is time for new leadership to guide the Foundation’s fundraising and other activities for the new museum and beyond. Accordingly, I hereby resign my position as Chair effective December 31, 2016. I do look forward to continuing to serve the Foundation as a Board member.”

But in a conversation with the Post, Thomas confirmed his resignation was about more than his age.

“I want to say first that I believe strongly in the Tennessee State Museum, its mission and its people,” Thomas said. “I resigned because the executive committee of the Foundation board and I are no longer of the same mind, and I believe they are entitled to have someone else lead the Foundation.

“First, I agreed with the decision of the [Douglas Henry State] Museum Commission to ask Lois Riggins-Ezzell to retire and to bring in a new director of the museum who can be involved in the planning of our exciting new building. Second, I did not agree with the Foundation’s decision to hire Lois following her retirement from the museum. I have nothing but praise for the work Lois has done at the museum, but I do not think it a prudent use of the Foundation’s money, which is raised through donations, to pay Lois $40,000 a year as a fundraiser when the Foundation is already paying a professional fundraising firm. The executive committee of the Foundation disagreed with me on both of those issues, and therefore I decided to step down.”

One Response to TN museum fundraising chair resigns over $40K fundraising gig for retiree

  • Victor Ashe says:

    How long will Lois hang around after her retirement? This makes it difficult to hire a new Executive Director who will be faced with the ghost of Lois in the Museum every day Most quality candidates would say NO to this situation until the Museum Commission shows a willingness to resolve it. It is hard to make all this up as it is so bizarre but unfortunately true.

    The current search committee has been very quiet about its work. Museum commission has a meeting at 3 PM CST on Friday December 9. at Museum Open to the public.

    I am a Commission member and first chair of the Commission

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