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CEO Update – January 4, 2023

Happy New Year Friends!

I am writing this message on a Southwest flight between Hawaii and California. I spent the holidays on the Big Island of Hawaii with my family, giving us an opportunity to reset, reflect, and prepare for 2023. 

Thankfully, we avoided the Southwest Airlines fiasco as our travels began prior to and after the worst of the challenges. I am aware of several of our friends and supporters who were affected by this issue seemingly triggered by weather resulting in an information technology “meltdown,” including our board chair! 

This event was a tremendously impactful and brought alive the worst-case scenario of a system failure, which had gone unnoticed during the years leading up to it. It was an eye-opener that will most likely be a lesson for future leadership to study in academic and industrial environments.

As we plan towards the future, we strive to balance our investments in all areas, systems, crew, departments, and programs. Some of these investments (or lack of) are more visible – for example decks, paint, tours, programs, and events, while others such as technology, accounting, and administrative systems are less visible. 

Admittedly, much like Southwest and many others, we also underinvested in our information technology (IT) infrastructure and resources. In 2022, system failures began occurring more often and the challenges were becoming more visible, therefore we increased our investment into IT with a focus on integration, software development, and hardware upgrades. 

We still have a long way to go, with most of our staff using out-of-date computers, networking and storage hardware beyond its end of life, our visual donor recognition system stale, and more recently (past couple of days) our online donation system failing us in the ability to process credit cards (except through PayPal). 

Thankfully, our IT team continues to patch together solutions while assisting crew with general support, BUT the time is rapidly approaching that we MUST update our systems to prevent a less preferred scenario. Unlike Southwest Airlines, the effect of our failures would be much smaller, but still could result in a loss of information, public closure, and a loss of experience.

If you are interested in supporting our information technology efforts, the team is looking for newer or renewed equipment (no more than 5-years-old from corporate refreshes are great), volunteer support in software development (Salesforce knowledge is a +), technical project management, and financial support (cash, planned giving, assets, etc.)  

Please reach out to or 877-446-9261 ext. 747 to learn more. You can also click the button below to donate online.

During my flight, I reviewed and caught up with most of the emails that came through since I last checked on Thursday. I received a variety of messages including updates, ideas, offers of support / volunteering, fun tidbits of history, and a summary of visitation and financial data. These emails give me an opportunity to share your stories with our staff, stay in tune with the organization, and continue to look forward and adjust when the opportunity arises. 

A more recent piece of good news: our holiday visitation appears to be strong and very close to 2019 except for a couple of days. More people are hearing about the fun and engaging “Escape the Mothball Fleet” experience and are booking several weeks in advance to enjoy with friends and family members.

Despite having a strong couple of weeks during the holiday season, our off-season continues to affect us in public visitation revenue. Our financials for November are hot off the press and as expected for the off-season, our expenses exceeded our revenue. Thankfully a strong on-season and support from donors throughout the year, make up the difference.

As we begin 2023, our team is focused on finalizing department specific objectives in support of two organization wide priorities.

1. Expand nationally and open the National Museum of the Surface Navy on October 13, 2025.
2. Achieve measurable progress.

I am looking forward to seeing what our awesome, dedicated team puts together for 2023.  Stay tuned.

My first trip of the year will begin on January 8th, as we travel to the annual Surface Navy Association Conference in Washington DC. Attendees on behalf of the museum at the SNA conference include our Chairman of the Board RADM Mike Shatynski, USN (ret.), Advisory Members RDML Sandra Adams and CAPT Rick Easton, USN (ret.), Kyle Aube, and myself. We will have the opportunity to visit with several friends and supporters while in the DC area, including the Surface Navy community and a brief visit to Capitol Hill.  

On a personal note, as many of you know, travel (and a packed schedule) can wreak havoc and make it challenging to maintain a balance including physical, mental, and personal obligations. Despite losing 165 lbs. and becoming healthy, I am no exception to the rule and have yet to find a magic formula. 

I fight many of the same demons… Anxiety sets in when I miss something (thank you social media), then I seek something to soothe it (food), I become lethargic and my workouts are affected, I become upset at myself for eating horribly, and then the cycle begins again…

Worse yet… our choices are simply limited and we become surrounded by unhealthy food and lack of workout availability during travel.

Jonathan Williams in 2012 (inset) and 2022

For those of you interested: I travel with protein bars (food) and resistance bands (workout), I eat lean meats, vegetables, and salads (most restaurants have these), and I am learning to accept that social media generally shows a person or event at their *best*.

At the end of each year, much like we do with the organization, I review my accomplishments and plan for the following year. I write these down in my daily calendar and this year I am sharing them with you:

1. Focus on mindfulness.
2. Learn better nutrition, including diversifying my vegetable regiment.
3. Combat fears, especially the fear of rejection which has prevented me many times from simply asking.
4. Show gratitude daily.

As you plan your 2023, focus on becoming a better you! Be kind to yourself, make measurable progress, and plan for the rest of your life – one accomplishment at a time.

My blessings for an incredible 2023. I am deeply appreciative to each of you for your support, friendship, and advocacy.

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO


Jonathan Williams in Suisun Bay 17 years go and over 100 pounds heavier

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who supported our year-end campaign. American Legion Post 560 generously matched $30,000 in gifts and brought our year-end campaign total to *drumroll* over $300,000! 

These dollars are put to hard work and help support our core education, veteran, and community programs, key operations and preservation work, the National Museum of the Surface Navy, and more.

We are excited about the big projects that lie ahead in 2023 and having your support means everything to us. 

NOTE: If you prefer not to donate electronically, please mail your check to: Attention: Development Department, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro, CA 90731 Thank you to our 2021 donors for their generosity and support. Want to know how your donations are making a difference? Check out our ANNUAL REPORT here.
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