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New River Leader

Henry Ford said, “You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.” Well, enthusiasm had never been lacking at Clayton’s Antique Boat Museum, also known as the ABM, which is the world’s largest, fresh water, maritime museum.

Most important of all, the ABM has always had strong-and-effective leadership, as exemplified by its past two Executive Directors, William (Bill) Danforth and John MacLean. Leadership has also come from the Board of Directors and we must not forget the valued support of past and present staff members, volunteers, and the group of philanthropists known as “Friends of the Museum”.

For some time, the ABM’s board had searched for a new leader. In March, Robert Easton, current Board Chair, advised:

“I am delighted to announce that Fred Schmitt has accepted the Board of Trustees’ offer to succeed John MacLean as Executive Director of the Antique Boat Museum. Fred joined us on April 2, 2010 on a part-time basis and will assume the role, full-time, at our next Trustees meeting, May 28, 2010.

In conducting this search, the Committee considered over sixty applicants and in the process interviewed candidates from as far away as Maryland, Florida and California. Fred, however, comes to us from Clayton, New York. As a 1981 graduate from the Cooperstown, Graduate Program in Museum Studies, Fred’s first place of employment was at our Shipyard Museum (later to become the Antique Boat Museum). During his time at the Museum, Fred met, wooed and married the one-room-schoolhouse teacher on Grindstone Island, Nancy Taylor. In 1985 the young couple moved to New Jersey where Fred began a twenty-six-year career in management consultation. In 2000 Nancy and Fred returned to Clayton where Fred continued his consulting work and Nancy became Principal of Indian River Middle School”.

Fred, as President of Teamwork Strategies Inc. based in Clayton, is already well known in the North Country.  His firm provides guidance for non-profits, including the Museum, in Board Development, organization, staff and financial management.  He expressed great enthusiasm about this new opportunity stating, "I am very proud to be working with excellent and dedicated staff and volunteers who are evolving our Museum in exciting ways, and I look forward to collaborating with other organizations for the benefit of our wonderful region."

Robert Easton also wants the community to know that later in the summer, when members return to the River, there will be an opportunity to officially thank John MacLean for his tremendous contributions.

“John first came to the museum as a campaign consultant in 1986. In 1994, under Bill Danforth’s Directorship, John came on staff, as the Director of Development, to manage the capital campaign.  In 2002, when Bill Danforth retired, John assumed his position. As Fred Schmitt settles in to his new position, John will remain to assist with a new capital campaign for their ‘Office of Endowment’ and will help in planning a campaign in 2011”. 

The new Director will have a busy-and-exciting summer as the ABM will welcome passengers from the Gananoque Boat Lines. Tours from Gananoque will run across the River each Friday beginning in June. For those of us living in the post 9/11 border region this is momentous. Easton explained that Christopher McCarney from the GBL, lead the discussions with the U.S. Customs and Border Services, and Homeland Security. This new partnership will definitely be welcomed in both Canada and the United States. Plus, there will be a temporary check-in arranged during the Annual Boat Show weekend of July 30th – August 1st, ensuring that many more Canadians will be encouraged to visit.

Fred, as the editor of TI Life, I am delighted to extend our welcome to you and as the President of the Thousand Islands Land Trust, I welcome you to our non-profit community in Northern New York. We all look forward to your joining those who love this River and who work with pride and passion for its good. We will have fun!

By Susan W. Smith, Editor.  

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