International Civil Rights Museum gets ten new board members

By Andrea Picou, Staff Writer

Published in print Aug. 27, 2014

On August 5 the International Civil Rights Center and Museum (ICRCM) announced they would be expanding their board from fifteen to twenty-five. The original board was mostly made up of activists and political leaders with some corporate voices.

The majority of the new additions are from corporations, with two lawyers and some union, community and philanthropic representation.

The ten new members were added to “increase the diversity by sector,” according to Lacy Ward, the executive director of the ICRCM.

Ward explained that the major voices in the operation of a museum are political leaders and activists, philanthropists, corporate leaders, volunteers, and academics.

He said specifically the board, “did not have representation of the donor community,” and continued to emphasize a “balance of all constituencies to reach equilibrium” in the running of the ICRCM.

The term limit of board members differs. Term limits for the new board members have not been set yet. Earl Jones, Melvin “Skip” Alston and Hurley Derrickson have lifetime appointments on the board, according to the bylaws of the ICRCM.

The ICRCM has had to borrow money from the City of Greensboro to stay out of debt.

Ward was selected as executive director earlier this year in the midst of concerns about the loan agreement between the ICRCM and Greensboro’s City Council.

On the expansion of the board Ward said, “Yeah! This is a step toward financial stability.” He went on to explain that the loan agreements stipulate that the city manager and the mayor sit on the board. Currently they are Jim Westmoreland and Nancy Vaughn, respectively.

There has been a lack of confidence in the ICRCM’s ability to remain relevant and profitable. They have faced financial challenges as well as low visitation numbers.

When asked about tensions within the ICRCM about expanding the board Ward replied, “Yeah it’s called change and change is always uncomfortable.”

Ward said that when expenses are greater than income, changes need to be made.

Ward likened the tough financial situation of the ICRCM to the budget cuts that public universities are now facing and the difficult atmosphere that came with them. 

Ward shared that the ICRCM needs to focus on being responsive to the donors, visitors, activists, academics and volunteers while staying true to the mission of preserving Woolworth’s, the lunch counter that is famous for the sit-in protests.

Ward believes that the expansion will help with this mission.

The new board focuses more heavily on potential sources of revenue than the previous one, which included more activist representation.

The expansion is not the only recent change. In addition to Lacy Ward becoming executive director in May, the position of curator was eliminated. The ICRCM began some serious shuffling of organization after the loan situation was settled.

Those in leadership of the ICRCM are taking steps to avoid financial hot water in the future.



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