Hands On! executive director Kennedy resigning effective Feb. 28

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 1, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Hands On! Regional Museum on Friday announced the resignation of museum Executive Director Ginna Kennedy.

Kennedy will leave the museum Feb. 28, after more than an year and a half as director.

James Smith, chairman of the museum’s board of directors, said the board appreciates the contributions Kennedy has made during her tenure and will leave the museum in good position for the future growth.

During her 19 months as executive director, Kennedy led the staff and volunteers in the installation of two world-class feature exhibits and the expansion of its educational programing at the museum and in classrooms throughout the region.

“We are well positioned for continued growth and excited about the future,” Smith said. “It is our hope that Ginna’s future endeavors be both successful and rewarding.”

Kennedy said she was privileged to serve as director and she will continue to support the museum in the future.

“The museum is so beloved in this community and I have enjoyed being a part of it. Although I am leaving my position as executive director, I will continue to support the museum any way that I can. As Hands On! celebrates its 25th year, I am confident that the best is yet to come.”

Smith said the board will appoint a search committee to begin the process of finding Kennedy’s replacement and will begin accepting applications for the executive director’s position at that time.

Kennedy began her tenure as director in July 2011, replacing Trish Patterson, who held the position for 5½ years. An attorney, Kennedy previously managed her own law office in Johnson City. She had served on the Hands On! volunteer board of directors since 2010 and had also previously worked for other nonprofit child and family service organizations across the country.

Founded in 1987, Hands On! marked its 25th anniversary in September. Kennedy was named the museum’s fifth executive director after a two-month search for Patterson’s replacement. At that time, the board set objectives for the museum, including the development of its long-range goal of a securing new building for the museum and making it a leading attractions in the Tri-Cities region.

In 2011, city and county development authorities announced an comprehensive plan of action for revitalization of downtown Johnson City that listed Hands On! as “a revitalization success story to build on” and a “key stakeholder” in future revitalization. The plan called for the relocation of Hands On! to a site on Cherry Street where several abandoned warehouses would be demolished and a new building built for the museum. The plan designated the museum’s current site in the 300 block of East Main Street for use by East Tennessee State University.

Early in her tenure as executive director, Patterson said while Hands On! hoped to remain downtown, the museum was in need of more space for expansion. Ideally, she said, a new building will be built to fit the museum’s fun and educational exhibits and programs.

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