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CEO Update September 14, 2021

Friends and Family:

To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we hosted an Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans gathering on board IOWA in affiliation with LA Fleet Week, and a remembrance with the LA Fire Department station 112 crew. Great job to the team involved in making this event happen and thank you all for your support!  Events like these highlight our role and impact in the overall community and they are made possible because of your support.

As expected, visitor numbers have drastically decreased with summer in our rearview mirror and the slow season we have come to know begins after Labor Day. Most days remain far below the numbers we experienced in 2019, when tourism was vibrant in the Los Angeles region. 

I reflect upon the dynamic change of visitors to our museum and have been curious to know the impact Covid has had on other visitor driven destinations. On Monday, I attended the San Francisco Fleet Week launch party located along Fisherman’s Wharf by Ghirardelli Square. I was surprised by how much street parking was available and how little traffic (both pedestrian and vehicle) was present throughout. It is painfully obvious that our visitor-based industries continue to be affected, at least as the west coast is concerned. I continue to hold out hope that these industries will return in force soon.

The toll of the lasting pandemic has been felt by all of us, yet the Pacific Battleship Center team continues to come together and weather the storm. As an iconic symbol of the Surface Navy, there is no doubt that the IOWA will continue forging ahead to become the National Museum of the Surface Navy. As we continue to execute on our near and long-term strategy, we have created a road map to remain focused on the goal at hand.

We have a two-pronged strategy of growing our current impact in education, veterans, and community while executing on a project plan to open the National Museum of the Surface Navy in 2025. Much of what we do today is tied directly to the necessary infrastructure and requirements for the National Museum, including the recent electrical upgrades, Vicky’s Doghouse Café, IT infrastructure improvements, expansion of programs, and our incredible event space additions.

We remain budget-conscious, yet strategic in our investments in the future. With your help, we can accelerate these improvements, ramp-up our marketing and development efforts, and grow our programming.

Over the past year and a half, Joleen Deatherage has been the primary driver of the marketing and development efforts and unfortunately her last day in this role is Friday, September 17. Hers are large shoes to fill, and Jenny Sova and I will be temporarily supporting the Development and Marketing team in the near-term. Joleen’s contributions to the organization have been incredible and we were blessed to have her as part of the team, especially during the pandemic.

The next six months will be transformational for your organization and your support will make it possible to continue the growth curve we have experienced. Please become a National Museum of the Surface Navy Plank Owner, share this opportunity with your friends and family, and donate towards the National Museum of the Surface Navy. Thank you if you have already done so. We deeply appreciate your contributions. 

With your donations towards this effort in the coming months, we will initiate space preparation, continue infrastructure improvements, initiate exhibit design, and grow the support structure to ensure the museum’s success.

Over the next two weeks, I will be traveling across the nation with several meetings to continue our execution on our National Museum strategy. I will be in Washington D.C., Orlando, Groton, Mobile, and San Diego. I will be returning to the ship on the 24th for almost a week, before departing again.

During these trips, I have opportunities to meet with passionate supporters, donors, and partners – people who believe in the Surface Navy Museum and passionately join this effort to honor the millions of sailors that have served since 1775.

Your contribution will make sure we honor their service and educate our future generations on the importance of Freedom of the Seas. Thank you for your support and all that you do for our organization. Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Become a Plank Owner and/or Donate at

Learn more about all of our donation programs including planned giving, stocks, IRA, in-kind, and more at:

Kind Regards,

Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

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