Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Jennifer Kilmer picked as director for Washington History Museum

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Aug. 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm with 19 Comments »
August 22, 2011 12:44 pm
Jennifer Kilmer

Gig Harbor’s Jennifer Kilmer will lead the Washington State History Museum into the next chapter in its history.

Kilmer will replace retiring State Historical Society director David Nicandri in October. She leaves an eight-year tenure as executive director of the Harbor History Museum, which recently opened in a new location in her hometown after a two-year absence.

She is married to Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer, lead writer of the Senate’s capital-construction budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire made the appointment last week, approving a unanimous recommendation by the society’s board of trustees. The society runs the Tacoma museum and Olympia’s State Capital Museum.

On its blog, the society praised Jennifer Kilmer’s academic credentials and, maybe more important in this time of budget cuts, her fundraising ability.

The Historical Society’s museums were threatened with closure last year, along with the state museum in Spokane. But the Legislature ending up preserving them on a reduced schedule. The threatened cuts could be back next year, but Kilmer didn’t sound worried:

The Tacoma community came together and really rallied around the State History Museum, and I would expect that strong outpouring of support to continue.

On raising more private money:

I think there will be a multi pronged effort. Certainly looking to expand membership would be a primary focus. We will have a significant effort aimed at major gift fundraising.

Major gifts are about $5,000 or more that people or businesses make annually, she said. She said the society would also expand “planned giving” efforts, or talking to folks about bequeathing money to the society in their wills.

One more snippet from our interview:

I do feel like history is important. If you create a generation of learners and thinkers and scientists who don’t have that background in our state and national history, that’s a mistake.

Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. tomwa007 says:

    “She leaves an eight-year tenure as executive director of the Harbor History Museum,”

    I know she is from Gig Harbor but was she in charge of Pearl Harbor, Sag Harbor, Bar Harbor Museum?

    I am glad to see this is listed under Political Buzz for wife of an influential state politician who runs a tiny town museum is not qualified to run the State Historical Museum.

    A glorified fundraiser with a good set of friends’ maybe, but not the visionary needed to save a dying spot of downtown Tacoma.

  2. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    The museum in Tacoma needs reviving, badly. Some donations may help, if the mission of the facility is going to be reconsidered. As it is, it is not a state museum, it is a salute to native americans. A one time visitis all anyone needs to get everything the “museum” offers. Kinda like the MOG.

  3. tree_guy says:

    The best person for this job is the wife of an influential State Senator?

    How many government paychecks should ONE family be able to lay claim to in todays downwardly spiraling economy?

  4. SuperSteve says:

    Yes, ‘tomwa007′ – it is the “Harbor History Museum. A visit to their website at http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org/ might have been helpful before you left your snide comment.

    The name “Harbor History Museum’ is very much in keeping with the very community in which it is located – almost everyone in Gig Harbor refers to their area as “the Harbor.”

    And Jen does indeed have the ‘visionary leadership’ that you rightfully claim is necessary for this job – it was under her leadership that the Gig Harbor History Museum was able to raise funds for and construct a new building in 2009.

    All the partisan sniping in the world doesn’t distract from the fact that Jen received a “unanimous recommendation by the society’s board of trustees” – a group of individuals of all political persuasions that know far more about managing the state’s historical heritage than a few anonymous commentators.

  5. jimkingjr says:

    The usual trolls come out with their drivel, but Kilmer will do a great job!

  6. truthbusterguy says:

    jimkingjr says she will do a great job. Well ask people in Gig Harbor and they will tell you she get’s an $80,000 a year salary to manage the GH museum and does nothing but delagate to volunteers and rarly shows up for work. Museum attendance is in trouble and revenues are down. I have even heard the place may close.

    jimkingjr says nice things so as a lobbist he will continue to be invited to the Kilmer’s parties.

  7. It’s unfortunate that Jordan chose to frame this story as ‘political’ – considering that Jen Kilmer is more than qualified in her own right for practically any job she’d want.

    Besides being married to a well-respected (by all but the most partisan right-wingers…) guy, Jen is a Marshall Scholar with a Masters Degree from Oxford who previously worked for the Paul Allen Foundation and raised $12 million from the PRIVATE SECTOR to build the new museum in Gig Harbor.

    Hopefully the News Tribune will do a more through job of reporting in the future.

    We’re very fortunate to have someone of her caliber doing such great work in our local community!

  8. Jordan Schrader says:

    NoSpin – Can you be more specific about how I framed it as “political?” You’re reading a blog that’s about political and government news, and that’s what this is.

    As for thoroughness: This is breaking news, to be followed by a longer story I’m writing for the dead-trees edition of the paper.


  9. truthbusterguy…where in the world do you think you got your “facts” from?

  10. Question #1 – How does she feel about the jobs-killing, anti-pedestrian, bridge-of glass-blocking fence that Mr. Nicandri loved so much? (hint: tear it down! )

  11. The Jinxmedic says:

    And this is how musuems go these days, through well connected political appointees.

    I certainly wish her the best, and I am still available for consultation regarding a long-term plan for the WSHM.

  12. Those of us in the Harbor (Gig) who are familiar with Jennifer Kilmer have nothing but respect for her, and gratitude that her tenure at HHM was so successful. She will do wonderful things for the WSHM, because Jennifer is qualified and a hard worker. Her success is not dependent on her husband. Anyone who thinks differently about Mrs. Kilmer knows nothing about her.

  13. jimkingjr says:

    Well, truthbusterguy obviously knows little, if anything about her- or about me. He just likes to bust the truth in favor of his warped views.

    I know Jennifer not through Derek, but thanks to Pat Lantz, and from working on programs to help with historic boats and ships- work I am NOT paid anything for. As the museum is also the administrator of many historic grant programs, it is wonderful to see someone of Jennifer’s caliber come on board.

    Anyone who ever gets to visit our historic vessels as they come through town should know that there is a relationship between the museum and these boats and ships. Please ignore the trolls, and welcome Jennifer to her new job. It is going to be a positive for a lot of reasons.

  14. Don’t let the door hit you in the….

  15. Sagacious says:

    It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a Senator husband of the same party as the Governor, at least she will recognize the name on the list. Hopefully she vetted all the candidates carefully, which, apparently, is not her strong suit, judging by some of her appointments.

    Being the wife of a Senator should not be an automatic disqualifier and, if she is qualified, why not give her the job. As to pay, why the grumbling? Someone will get paid for doing it, why not her. Besides, a State Senator doesn’t live very high on the hog on the legislative salary. Senator Kilmer does work outside the legislature, as do most of the legislators, both House and Senate.

    How much she gets paid might attract some scrutiny, especially in tough economic times. David Nicandri made $116,820.70 in 2010. I did not see her starting salary mentioned.

  16. pumaintacoma says:

    The same Senator Kilmer who said a year ago that the economy is recovery and always has an opinion for is constituents. The pay for these positions are ridiculous. Compared to corporations and highly skilled engineers they are hugely inflated for a small scale market. More sucking off the government payroll by PhD folks who can’t build anything. Inbreeding again!

  17. olympicmtn says:

    How does this position create jobs in the county where we have 9.5% unemployment (unpublished is more like 20% unemployment)? Let’s get real and start cutting these director level positions. They’re doing it in the private sector mid-level management why not in the public sector. Start now before we bleed to death with our bloated government.

  18. tomwa007 says:

    Sorry SuperSteve and jimkingjr , this is not a small community museum, this is the WA State Museum and a political appointment plain and simple..

    Sure, she can raise money with influential friends but can she do what needs to be done without pandering to the special interests of donors?

    The museum is a failure and needs a total revamp. The bad revisionist history displayed is not worthy of any paid admission.

    I feel bad for anyone one who feels the museum board’s recommendation of Ms. Kilmer is a good thing for you do not have a grip on history or what is needed to make a successful museum

  19. jimkingjr says:

    And the sour grapes continue. Jennifer Kilmer has done more than run a small community museum, and she has a demonstrated history of success at fundraising. Those of you that want an anti-Indian museum just need to realize that you atre out of step with the majority of the community and the reality of our history. Some of you need to go get a grip on the real world and stop letting your frustration with the world keep getting the better of you.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0