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For Chris Rudisill, the new executive director of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale, the position is “the culmination of everything I’ve done in my career.”

A North Carolina native, Rudisill began working in the museum industry for a short time after college, then wrote an LGBT column for “The Sun News” in Myrtle Beach, S.C., before settling in the Tampa Bay area for five years, where he served as executive director of St. Pete Pride and most recently, director of LGBT community center services for Metro Wellness and Community Centers.

“I was a ‘voice’ for the community at the paper, worked ‘with’ the community at Pride and then worked ‘for’ the community (at the center),” he said.

In this new position, he hopes to continue expanding the Stonewall Museum’s mission and outreach nationally, working for “the” LGBT community. During a telephone interview, in between packing boxes, he praised the museum’s board and outgoing executive director, David Jobin.

“They’ve done a tremendous job getting Stonewall to where it is today—shaped it strategically and made it ready for the next step to become a national organization,” Rudisill explained.

He plans to move the museum toward full accreditation, building a bigger national presence, launching a national membership program, growing the archives and, of course, finding new ways to tell the LGBT community’s story in the process.

In the wake of landmark advances in recent years, he warns the LGBT community cannot become complacent and, instead, must preserve our history.

“When you look at HIV rates and what’s happening, Florida now has the largest rate of new infection,” he pointed out. “How much of that is because we’ve lost that history of what happened in our community during the AIDS crisis? That’s just one example.”

He said the community must also be mindful that today’s headlines will become a part of future history.

“Young people need to see how far we’ve come in such a short time, but also appreciate that more advances are on the horizon,” Rudisill added.

He’s particularly excited about the museum’s education project and plans to encourage the continued development of interesting curriculum, not just to tell the history of the LGBT movement, but also provide perspective of the community’s place in the greater arc of human history.

His biggest challenge? Rudisill didn’t need to think a moment.

“Funding is always an issue, for any non-profit,” he said. “Stonewall is in a good solid position, but with growth we’re going to need more funding. It’s going to be a challenge, but not one we can’t overcome.”

He plans to continue seeking support from foundations, as well as individual donor support, not only in South Florida, but across the country.

“Part of that national outreach is going to be making people aware of what we have. I was highly impressed with the archives and the library is amazing. Stonewall is and should be an asset to researchers across the country,” said Rudisill.

Rudisill expects the transition to life in South Florida to be smooth. He participated in the SmartRide for six years and, as a board member of Equality Florida, frequently attended meetings in Fort Lauderdale. In both roles, he worked closely with the staffs of The Pride Center and other prominent community organizations.

His fiancée, Jacob Hamm, and the couple’s two dogs, Brody and Bella, will be joining Rudisill in Fort Lauderdale, where they found a home in the historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood just west of downtown.

“I’m super excited to be close to the river. We have kayaks and are looking forward to getting out,” he said.

They both also enjoy weekend trips to Orlando to visit the Disney theme parks and, recognizing the job can sometimes seem to be 24/7, they cherish those quiet nights at home with family and friends, too.