Letter from the President
Running the Race, Passing the Baton
By Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
By now, many of you have heard that this spring I announced I will be retiring as president and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society in December 2008. There is still much exciting work to be done over the next year and a half, and one of the most important objectives will be to help ensure a smooth transition in leadership.
As I think about what we as an institution can do to make that happen, I'm reminded of something my late father-in-law, Col. Joe Martin, used to tell me. Joe was a math professor and assistant track coach at VMI. He said one of the hardest events to coach was the relay. It required real teamwork. You can have the swiftest runners, but if they don't know how to hand off the baton, they can't win. Joe rarely had the fastest runners in his conference, but he trained them very well in the crucial step of passing the baton to the next runner. Because of that training, his team remained consistently competitive in the relay. I want to compare the transition in leadership at the VHS to a relay race. If we work together, we can ensure that the search for a new president and CEO is conducted as effectively as possible. If we do that, we can have in place a successor who will continue the work all of us have done over the past two decades to make this a great institution.
As I've said many times, next to marrying Cammy and having our family, coming to the VHS was the best thing I have ever done. It has been a dream come true. And now one of the most important things I can do—indeed, the most vital final measure of any CEO's tenure—is to help our trustees and staff position the VHS so that it will attract the best successor possible. I plan on continuing to give my best right up to the end of 2008. And I hope you, as members, will be willing to do your part to help me hand off the baton successfully.
Posted June 2007
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