CEO Update October 1, 2021

Friends and Family:

This past weekend, we returned from an east coast trip to resume our efforts at the museum. On Monday our board convened for the quarterly meeting, during which we discussed several topics ranging from impact in the community to progress on the National Museum of the Surface Navy campaign. Thank you to our crew for their efforts and push to remain relevant; it is recognized by the board and leadership.

During our travels we consistently receive comments about how impressed many of our supporters are with the impact that our crew makes daily. Special kudos to those of you who showed up in support of the tremendous outreach efforts at Long Beach Grand Prix, a Boy Scout event, and the regular operations at the ship.

IOWA C-Suite aboard USS CA

The crew remains a lean yet mighty team of proud Americans that come together in common purpose. They commit countless hours away from home and family to do their part – giving back to veterans, inspiring future generations, and ensuring the ship remains present and linked to the future. Passion and commitment run deep in each one of our crew members and donors provide the necessary fuel, so to speak, to keep the team motivated to achieve the impossible.

When we began this adventure over ten years ago, we did so with a dream and a willingness to take the necessary risks to make certain the IOWA wasn’t permanently eliminated from our nation’s future. A small team of individuals, with support from the citizens of the State of Iowa, came together and committed their time, resources, and lives to ensuring that the IOWA could once again serve its community. The stars aligned to preserve the legacy of the IOWA and the magic continues as we design and build the National Museum of the Surface Navy (NMSN) aboard this iconic warship.

We are presented with new challenges regularly and we overcome them with your support and perseverance. The past eighteen months have been the most challenging to date. Our team has felt the effects of the unknown, the excitement of a rebound, and the tempered response to a surge. In March of 2020, we had limited reserves that made the possibility of us not weathering the pandemic very real. Thankfully you and the crew rallied in support, several donors made stretch lifetime gifts, and because of these actions, we not only survived, but became stronger and began to grow again! Your commitment and support continue to inspire me to push to the national level.

The transitional period that we are going through is simultaneously exciting and difficult. Each of us is challenging ourselves to think bigger and more strategically to be effective and efficient in our daily roles. Your feedback provides us insight on how we need to think differently, be more self-reflective, and provides clarity on the roadmap for opening the Surface Navy Museum in 2025.

We have made significant progress on the NMSN campaign, including the completion of several infrastructure improvement projects, restructure of internal processes, and the implementation of our innovative Plank Owner membership program. Our goal is to make certain “no sailor is left behind” in being recognized for their service. Please join us in this effort: recognize a sailor in your life by becoming a Plank Owner.

Plank Owner Certificate

As we approach late 2021, we…

  • Will host the inaugural Freedom of the Seas awards with award winners Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien, Admiral Michelle Howard, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and UPS (make sure to add your name to the ticket interest list)
  • Are hiring a Development Manager
  • Plan to introduce the Haze Gray Plank Owner benefit system
  • Are are booking overnights and event rentals
  • Are developing and introducing a new and exciting tour
  • Are beginning to prepare new museum space
  • Continue to execute on the myriad maintenance items in each department

    All the while, we remain focused on the daily operation of a thriving non-profit organization that makes a tremendous impact on our community and nation. We haven’t fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic, and it is likely to be a year or more until we do, but have confidence that your donations, volunteering, advocacy, and support have made the difference.

    Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend several meetings with the Navy, supporters, and donors. These productive meetings have helped us make progress and add bricks to the wall of museum impact and success. One such brick was having the honor to sign an endowment agreement with a long-time donor and supporter with whom David Canfield has maintained a relationship since the beginning of this organization’s journey. Thank you to David, our team, and you for your advocacy and relationship strengthening efforts that ensure that we remain sustainable far into the future.

    CEO Jonathan Williams at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA and at the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) conference aboard USS Alabama in Mobile, AL.

    In closing, I hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy Vicky’s Doghouse on board the IOWA. It is now FREE to board the fantail of the ship to enjoy Vicky’s and the food is receiving rave reviews. We hope to see you on deck soon!

    Kind Regards,

    Jonathan Williams
    President & CEO

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