CEO Update 20 August 2021

Friends and Supporters:

I start my message out with words of condolence for the families of recently deceased museum crew members Ron Frank and Tim McMahon. Ron was a member of the BIARA radio club aboard IOWA and Tim was a member of the tour crew. They will both be missed by their fellow crewmembers and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.

In Los Angeles, we continue to experience a rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the COVID-19 Delta variant. The public health department has implemented additional guidelines in relation to major events over 10,000 people. After discussions with Fleet Week partners, reviewing case projections, and the ongoing uncertainty, it was decided that postponing LA Fleet Week is best for the protection of the health and safety of our guests, exhibitors, staff, and military members. LA Fleet Week will return Memorial Day weekend 2022 and will take place concurrently with Fleet Week New York, creating the first simultaneous West Coast – East Coast Fleet Week. I am thankful to the planning team for continuing to be flexible during the pandemic and am deeply appreciative for all their work on LA Fleet Week.

This same surge has resulted in a reduction in IOWA attendance over the past couple of weeks. Our weekends continue to be stronger than weekdays, but there is no doubt it has affected visitation. We are not projecting any additional restrictions in the coming months, but we do expect to be impacted by public concern.

Our Chairman of the Board RADM Mike Shatynski and I flew to the State of Iowa this past Monday to attend the state fair, as well as a reception officially launching our National Museum of the Surface Navy effort in Iowa. During our visit we had an opportunity to thank several Iowans (including the governor) for their support over the years, experience numerous exhibits and culinary delights, be interviewed on Simon Conway’s radio show, converse with the new USS Iowa (SSN-797) crew, visit the state capital, and enjoy the company of our passionate and dedicated donors, volunteers, and board members. 

Thank you to the citizens of Iowa for your continued support and hospitality when we visit. A special thank you to our several Iowa-based board members and spouses for taking your time to visit with us and arrange opportunities to thank Iowans for their support.

Several projects are continuing to progress aboard ship. Everyday I hear the excitement throughout the community, even in Iowa, about Vicky’s Doghouse. Vicky’s is very close to opening with the last remaining item being a steamer large enough to accommodate the projected traffic. 

The team has done an incredible job preparing Vicky’s for the community to enjoy and we are looking forward to opening very soon. With Vicky’s quickly approaching, the team has been implementing several new improvements in the fantail event space. We have ordered new equipment, are installing lighting and A/V equipment, extending the stage, and adding some furniture to make the space fun both for Vicky’s dining and private event rentals. Vicky’s will be available to the public primarily for lunch and will not require admission to board.

Coupled with the enormous amount of work going on at Vicky’s, there are several other projects and programs simultaneously occurring. A team of volunteers led by David Vanderveen is safely cleaning up the rest of Turret 1. This team cleaned the upper portion a couple of years ago so that we are now able to provide tours in the space. Carpet recently was installed in the Veterans Resource Center offices by flooring apprentices and they are now focused on installing the remaining VCT tile. Volunteer John Goodson restored the wood-grained finish on wardroom cabinets and our teak display next to Turret 2. 

Tour continues to provide a great experience to our guests and congratulations to tour volunteer Dave Zisovic (pictured below) for winning volunteer of the quarter!  

volunteer of the quarter

I am always reluctant to recognize specific individuals or departments, as it truly takes all of us to make things work. My personal appreciation to every member of the team including those in accounting, development, education, events, IT, marketing, museum/curatorial, operations, retail, sales, security, tour, training, veterans, and volunteer services. If you have a special someone you would like me to recognize, please send me a note.  

In closing, my best wishes for a great weekend and thank you for your support!  

Jonathan Williams
President and CEO

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