Monday, August 22, 2011

Washington State Historical Society Selects Jennifer Kilmer as New Executive Director

Kilmer’s Ability to Lead Fundraising Efforts Key to Bringing Long-Term Stability to State’s History Museum

TACOMA, Wash. – Jennifer Kilmer, a museum manager with extensive fundraising experience, has been selected by the Washington State Historical Society board of trustees to succeed David Nicandri as its new executive director. The board’s recommendation has been approved by Governor Christine Gregoire.

Kilmer was the board's unanimous choice at a meeting held in Tacoma August 9. Nicandri is scheduled to retire October 7 after twenty-five years as head of the organization. Nicandri's career was highlighted by the construction of a new state history museum in 1996 that led to a civic renaissance in downtown Tacoma.

“David Nicandri has done a tremendous job of making our state's history far more accessible and interesting to far more people than ever before,” said Society President Dan Grimm. "Jennifer Kilmer is uniquely qualified to achieve even more in the years to come.”

Kilmer has been executive director of the Harbor History Museum for the past eight years. She headed a five-year campaign that raised nearly $12 million in public and private funds to build a new museum in Gig Harbor. Harbor Museum attendance has quadrupled since the new facility was completed last August.

“As the flagship historical organization in Washington, the Historical Society plays a critical role in collecting, preserving and sharing our state’s rich history,” said Kilmer. “David Nicandri has built a great foundation for all of us to build on and I’m honored to be chosen by the board of trustees to lead this great institution into the future.”

Kilmer began her career as a grant manager for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundations in Seattle. She also served as the program officer for the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation and worked on a variety of special projects including the development of the Science Fiction Museum at the Seattle Center.

“Jennifer brings to the state an outstanding set of qualities, experience, and impressive academic credentials,” said Society trustee Charles W. Bingham, who led the executive director search. “I think she’s the perfect successor to David Nicandri and has the ability to enhance the society’s stellar reputation and expand opportunities for everyone to benefit from what the Society has to offer.”

Reared in Kansas, Kilmer earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1996. Upon graduation, she was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship and attended the University of Oxford where she attained her master’s degree.

The Washington State History Museum is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Information, including visiting hours and admission prices, is available by calling 1-888-BE-THERE (1-888-238-4373) or by visiting


Dan Branley (206) 914-1231