Stonewall National Museum & Archives Executive Director Bryan Knicely is leaving to become Executive Director of the Coral Springs Museum of Art.
But this news has a bright silver lining that Knicely has been quietly polishing during his twenty-month tenure and he will remain in an advisory capacity to Stonewall, helping to bring to fruition the energetic projects he has initiated.
Even if you are among those who visited their 1300 East Sunrise Blvd location this year, or among the smaller group who generously supported Stonewall, you probably do not know anything about what Knicely and the Stonewall board of directors have initiated by means of some creative, daring and risky thinking. Chairman Tom Tabor gave a startling report when asked about the transition in leadership.
Knicely has been, with the board’s blessing, quietly making trips all over the globe, establishing partnerships and cooperative ventures that will lead Stonewall into a fantastic future if everything he set in motion comes to fruition in the next few years.
Tabor said, “When Bryan Knicely joined Stonewall in March of 2011, he signed on to an organization that was in a state of flux. A new board had decided to grow Stonewall in ways not previously envisioned. Bryan has done a fantastic job for us, and accomplished tremendous things for the gay community and for gay history. We are very sorry to have him go. Some of our board members are also leaving because of big promotions in their professional lives.”
Knicely will remain as a consultant to Stonewall.
“His first assignment when he came in was to reorganize Stonewall, and to redirect it as a national entity, and I want to attribute to Bryan the success we have had with that decision. I am thinking about our trip to California to meet with educators to respond to their desire for information about gay history. This has resulted in an exciting educational project with Broward County that will soon be announced,” Tabor said. “Bryan also increased outreach at home via local Pride events. We took our message further. He went to Minneapolis to represent us at a conference where he convened a group of gay museums and libraries, and that led to a trip to Amsterdam in the summer for the International Conference of Gay Museums and Libraries. For this, we required of Bryan a leadership role at the conference, and he had to submit a paper on what he would accomplish. He delivered the keynote address, and as a result we made a successful bid to host the international conference in 2014.
How did Stonewall become so energized and dynamic during Knicely’s time at the helm?
“It has been a team effort. Our philosophy at Stonewall is cooperation. He will be difficult to replace, but we are having a retreat in early January to put together the business plan,” Tabor said. “We are in tremendous growth mode. We have not had a development director for a couple of years.”
When organizations like Stonewall experience a rapid growth spurt, there is always the danger that its original customer base will wonder if attention and services are being diverted. Tabor is reassuring in this area.
“The board must make choices about what to do. Can we take advantage of all these huge opportunities while serving the local community? That is why we love our volunteers. Because they can participate on the projects or programs that interest them according to the amount of time they have to offer,” Tabor said. “We will be building on the base that has been created. We have just begun to do these things. It was the board’s decision to do these travel initiatives to see what we could become. The timing could not have been better with all that has happened nationally in term of gay rights, and we are really very mainstream.”
Will the direction of Stonewall change drastically in the year to come?
“I hope we will really be able to accomplish all that we have started and to take advantage of all these opportunities. Our vision statement will list our options. You can’t stay the same. You become either bigger or lesser. The choice is up to the community to decide to support us,” Tabor said. “If there is anything we lack it is a large treasury. We have very loyal supporters but we need more of them. When you impact more people you unlock more funding. The opportunities are with us. We need to make choices.”
For more information, visit www.stonewallnationalmuseum.org.