Gunston Hall Hires Interim Director
There's a new boss at the former home of George Mason.
The Gunston Hall Board of Regents has hired a new Interim Director to oversee operations at the property over the next six to 12 months. In an email, Gunston Hall First Regent Wylie Raab announced that the temporary position will be held by Patrick Ladden, a former program director with the Corcoran College of Art and Design and chief of Project Management at the Museum of American History. HIs first day is Sept. 20.
"This action results from our efforts to work with the Commonwealth to increase the competitiveness of the Executive Director position," wrote Raab. "We anticipate beginning the recruitment process next Spring."
Gunston Hall is owned by the Commonwealth and is run by a Board of Regents (chosen from The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America). Former Executive Director David Reese, who was appointed to the position in 2003 by then-Gov. Mark Warner, was let go after a meeting of the Regents on April 16. He was harshly criticized for firing Gunston Hall's longtime education director last year, cutting back the grounds and eliminating educational events and programs.
The position, when filled, will have remained vacant for a year. "A year is a an unsusually long period to fill a position like this," said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland to Patch. "Hopefully that time will be spent finding the right person. I think that people will rally behind whoever is selected and hopefully we're going down a different and new road for the future of that wonderful facility."
Gunston Hall librarian and archivist Mark Whatford was named Interim Director after Reese was let go.
"The Regents commend and are indebted to Mark Whatford… for his exceptional performance in administering Gunston Hall for the past four months," wrote Raab. "The decision to retain an Interim Executive Director from outside the organization provides leadership and added professional support during this critical transition period."
Raab previously told Patch that an education director would not be hired until the Executive Director position is filled. But according to Raab's email, it appears that decision has changed.
"In the meanwhile, with open staff positions needing to be filled and key education and program decisions pending, the Regents recognize that additional management leadership and support is in the best interests of Gunston Hall at this time," she wrote. "The Interim Executive Director will serve only until an Executive Director is hired and is not a candidate for the Executive Director position."