In any competitive landscape, keeping a legacy cultural institution relevant is a challenge. Keeping it relevant while retaining the original vision is an even greater challenge. For many in the travel and tourism industry, we’re always looking to strike a balance between differentiation and collaboration. We really need both to thrive. In New England, where you can’t walk ten feet without bumping into a place with historical significance, Old Sturbridge Village is striking this balance.
In this episode, we hear from Jim Donahue. Jim is highly regarded in the nonprofit sector as a collaborative visionary. He is recognized as one of the top nonprofit executives in New England, with an impressive background in leadership, education, and fundraising.
Prior to taking the position as president and CEO for Old Sturbridge Village, Jim was the CEO of the Bradford Dunn Institute for Learning Differences in Providence, Rhode Island. In that time, he managed the merger between the Bradford Dunn Institute and CVS Highlander Charter School in 2004. During his seven-year tenure as the director of the charter school, he led the renovation of two campuses for the school and the establishment of several key capacity-building partnerships.
Since taking over as Old Sturbridge Village president in 2007, Jim has led the institution through a renaissance by increasing attendance, fundraising, and revenue from special programs. Highlights of his tenure include the reopening of the museum’s restaurant division, the renovation, and reopening of the lodging complex, the creation of the Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award, establishing an immersive theater program, including The Sleepy Hollow Experience, and the expansion of popular events like Christmas by Candlelight and Fourth of July.
In 2017, he launched Old Sturbridge Academy, the first public charter school located in a museum in Massachusetts. A revolutionary model of experiential learning, and a partnership between a school and museum, the academy is already changing the lives of its students, many of whom come from underperforming school districts. In 2010, he was named Nonprofit Leader of the Year by the Worcester Business Journal, and in 2013, received the Larry Meehan Award for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. He is a member of the American Antiquarian Society, a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and has served on the boards of a number of Rhode Island nonprofits.
Full show notes available here: https://breaktheicemedia.com/podcasts/jim-donahue/