Naples Historical Society President & CEO Announces Retirement
December 18, 2023
When Elaine Reed took the helm at Naples Historical Society in 2007, she brought with her more than three decades of strategic marketing management and economic development experience. She had worked in the U.S. private sector as well as U.S.A.I.D.-funded non-governmental and nonprofit projects in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. A two-year stint in the business development program of the U.S. Peace Corps led to eight years living an working in Albania, Armenia, Hungary, and Ukraine. During that time she helped form and plan the sustainability of many non-governmental associations and other country-wide economic empowerment projects. She was ready, willing and able to take on a new project.
Under Reed’s leadership, Naples Historical Society has experienced unprecedented growth in membership, gifts of all sizes, and community impact, and she put together a strong professional team. She formed a dynamic Board of Directors who gave her the freedom to create important preservation initiatives and craft the Society’s educational programs, all of which are now being refined for excellence. She spearheaded the writing and production of videos featuring oral histories from the community’s treasured “old-timers” that won a Telly Award. Reed won valuable historic rehabilitation legislation, fostered many productive community collaborations and created fresh branding. She secured Naples Historical Society’s role as the central voice of Naples history and Historic Palm Cottage™ as the portal to that history.
Elaine reflects, “Choosing to retire from the Society was a very difficult decision, but the time is right for me to step down and create space for the next Society leader. This organization has an impressive reputation and has made substantial community impacts over the years. This was made possible because of many people, including Mary Smith, Chair Emeritus, my wonderful Board of Directors, impressively dedicated volunteers, and a top-notch professional team. I will be forever grateful to have had this opportunity to lead Naples Historical Society.”
Reed made sure the Society’s funding was sensible and strong. She steered fundraising campaigns reaching in sum total well over $14 million.
“Since Elaine’s arrival at the Society in 2007, her leadership and through understanding of the opportunities and hindrances facing this small 501-C3 in Naples has produced a sound, forward-looking organization, whose main objective has always been telling the story of this city,” says Naples Historical Society Chair Emeritus Mary Smith.
With the vast and seemingly unending trend of quick-paced development in Naples, including in its relatively small historic district, the protection of the oldest house in Naples, Historic Palm Cottage™, was always top of mind for Reed, and she had a plan. That continuing work, however, was overshadowed when Hurricane Ian struck on September 28, 2022. Reed quickly pivoted to the complex and lengthy repair and resurrection of that beloved landmark from the feet of mud and muck that surged into the Cottage on that day. The complicated rehabilitation of the Historic Palm Cottage™ would go on for almost a full year. All the while she continued to spearhead perhaps one of her most significant campaigns dubbed “Protecting Palm Cottage in Perpetuity”.
Board Vice Chair, Charlie Mueller, was always impressed with the obstacles Reed had to overcome while tending to and growing the Society’s reach. “Elaine has done an admirable job leading the Society’s expansion despite the disruptions of hurricanes and a pandemic. She has built a strong and dedicated team- both staff and board, and while we will miss her, we wish her the very best in this next chapter of her life.”
Reed will work with the Society’s Board to tap the next leader and aid in ensuring a seamless transition. The focus for new leadership will be taking the Society into the future through the continued cultivation of strong community relationships and ensuring sustained profitability. The new Deputy Executive Director will work alongside Reed for a period of time before ascending to the Executive Director position, pending Board approval.
The job description for this position can be found on Naples Historical Society’s website, under the “Contact Us” section of the navigation bar. No calls, please.