Our historical society seeks new executive director

April 19th, 2017

Employment opportunity: Executive Director

Applications due at 5 p.m. Friday, May 19, 2017. For details, click here.


After four-plus years of leadership, Clay Eals steps down from post

The Southwest Seattle Historical Society is seeking a new executive director to succeed heritage advocate Clay Eals, who has resigned after four-and-a-quarter years in the position.

Clay Eals, July 2016 (photo by Joanne Murray)

In a letter to the organization’s board, Eals wrote that his decision to step down stems from “a desire to spend more time focusing on other aspects of my life.”

Eals’ departure will be effective in mid-July. The board began advertising the position on Saturday, April 22, 2017. Applications (see link at top of this page) are due at 5 p.m. Friday, May 19, 2017..

The board hopes to fill the position in time for the successor to overlap with Eals, who has been involved with the historical society since its founding in 1984.

Eals became the historical society’s first executive director in January 2013. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity, adding that he is confident that the organization’s mission, track record and board leadership will result in continued organizational success.

The author, historian and ex-journalist wrote in his resignation letter that the timing of the transition would be “as good as it gets” for the organization.

“We just finished a huge phase of our Junction landmark campaign, and between now and mid-July several manageable events (including the Sea View Hall home tour) can be pulled off while attention is devoted to a hiring process,” he wrote. “Most important is that there is enough time to get a new executive director on board to become immersed in the planning and execution of our 2017 Champagne Gala Brunch.”

As executive director, Eals has seen himself as a pied piper, bringing together members, volunteers, donors, sponsors and community leaders to achieve and monitor landmark status for iconic buildings, assemble Group Hug photo events featuring school children and others at key sites, champion programs and collections of the organization’s “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum, deepen relations with the Duwamish Tribe, create and sustain two monthly speaker series, revive the historical society’s annual “If These Walls Could Talk” home tours, broaden the organization’s visibility and deepen its financial viability.

Primary responsibilities of the position are fundraising, outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff supervision and overall management. In addition to the full-time position of executive director, the historical society has two paid part-time staff positions of curator and museum operations coordinator.

“We will so miss Clay in his departure from our organization,” says Karen Sisson, who became board president of the historical society in January.

“We have appreciated the guidance Clay has shown us,” she says. “Clay has left us in such a better place than when he came to the organization, so now we are able to take what he has given us, build on that solid ground and reach for the stars! We wish him well with his ventures and will welcome his involvement with us in the future as a seasoned volunteer.”

For more information on the search for a new executive director, please contact Karen Sisson at 206-579-0126 or e-mail her.

6 Responses to “Our historical society seeks new executive director”

  1. Edie Neeson says:

    Clay is quoted as saying that “this transition is” timely. The transition SWSHS made four-and-a-half years ago when they hired him as Executive Director was life-changing for the Society and for him. His zeal for community and connection launched a rocket! Clay is a creative, passionate catalyst no matter where he is. West Seattle is so fortunate he’s one of us.
    Edie Neeson

  2. Jack Miller says:

    West Seattle has been so fortunate to have so much passion and energy directed our way for so long. Clay is an amazing man and I’m sure will still be an important part of the best town on the planet to live. Many thanks to him for such tireless service. He makes us proud to be here.

  3. Toni Reineke says:

    Oh dear! This brought tears to my eyes! I just got to know — and deeply admire — Clay. It’s going to be very hard — maybe impossible — to fill his shoes! Hope you’ll still be hanging out and doing good works around West Seattle, Clay!

  4. Sigrid Wilson says:

    This was suppose to be a life time job!!! How dare you to move on. Just kidding of course.

    I wish you the very best and hope you will still be around West Seattle. My love to you and your bride. July is still a long way off — maybe you will change your mind!!! Hope Hope.

  5. […] announced that Clay will be stepping down from his post in July. He’ll go out on a high note. Learn more about Clay and his work with the SWSHS and the organization’s search for a new Executive […]

  6. Dinah Brein says:

    I have known Clay personally since 2008. He has been instrumental in helping to bring great live shows to the theater — the Pete Seeger 90th birthday as well as helping us achieve our recent renovation. Clay’s passion for all things West Seattle propels him to excite the whole community to become involved and love our landmarks. I look forward to Clay’s next chapter, but I sure couldn’t have “written the new chapters of the Admiral Theater” without his help.

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