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TR Library Foundation discusses CEO search

With an interim CEO now on the job, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Board will consider the traits it would like to find in a permanent leader.

With an interim CEO now on the job, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation Board will consider the traits it would like to find in a permanent leader.

The board on Thursday discussed its vision of its future CEO with AGB Search Consultant Vance Peterson, who is contracted to help guide the candidate hunt, and in doing so touched upon the library project’s goals and needs in the near and farther future.

Peterson, who has an extensive background in higher education fundraising, described the library as “a very big idea” and said the scope of the project could shape its fundraising potential.

“My strong guess is … that big ideas attract big money, and they attract big-thinking people and they attract people who see in their philanthropy an opportunity to do something significant,” he said. “I think this is an opportunity for people to make an impact on the future and to recognize our past.”

Peterson added that the groundbreaking deadline tied to funding from the North Dakota Legislature, which would require the site work to begin next January, created a “real urgency” to complete the CEO search as soon as possible.

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The search for the CEO will launch in mid-February and is scheduled to produce a final decision sometime in May.

Much of the meeting was dedicated to discussing the traits the foundation hoped to find in the candidates unearthed by that search.

The board listed characteristics like high energy and enthusiasm for the project, the ability to follow through on key tasks and a strong focus on fundraising as things it would like to see in its future CEO.

Board member Jay Clemens described the fundraising aspect as “critical.”

“Having someone with global reach -- but particularly national reach -- is going to be important,” Clemens said, adding that discovering and then targeting groups with specific interest in projects like the library will be important as well.

Clay Jenkinson, the Theodore Roosevelt Humanities Scholar at Dickinson State University, said the foundation has “a huge advantage” in the specificity of the project and the pre-existing appeal of its subject.

That advantage, he added, would help any CEO while bringing the concept to potential donors.

“We’re fortunate because we have Roosevelt,” Jenkinson said. “He’s a huge figure, but it’s a focused thing that we’re doing. We can sell this project because we’ve been working on this for 10 years or more, so we have a really solid way of talking about Theodore Roosevelt -- and particularly talking about in North Dakota.”

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