The Old Salem Museums and Gardens Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President and CEO Lee French and appointed Ragan Folan to replace him, effective February 1, 2012. Ms. Folan, a leading community volunteer, has been actively involved with Old Salem as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2005 and as Chair of the Board since May 2010. She chaired the Strategic Planning Task Force that developed the Long Range Strategic Plan currently being implemented. The Board elected Tony Furr, past Chair, to fill her term as Chair through May 2012. Located in North Carolina, Old Salem consists of two museums–the Historic Town of Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA)–along with award-winning heirloom gardens.
Lee French, who leaves the historic museum after five-and-a-half years of successful leadership, informed members of the executive committee of the Board some months ago that he desired to leave OSMG to explore other professional objectives and to satisfy some personal goals. “Based on a number of factors that include personal, professional and family objectives, I decided some months ago to begin the process of helping Old Salem transition to a new leader,” Mr. French said. “Ragan Folan is a logical and excellent choice. We have worked closely on a number of key projects and through those programs she has developed an intimate knowledge of the operations of Old Salem.”
Tony Furr praised Mr. French for his contributions to Old Salem. He cited three areas that Mr. French had made a significant difference to Old Salem: strengthening the finances of the organization, establishing a vision through a comprehensive strategic plan to ensure Old Salem’s future, and elevating the visibility of Old Salem through new programs that have proven to have wide appeal. “Lee French has done an outstanding job for Old Salem Museums and Gardens and leaves the organization in excellent shape,” said Mr. Furr. “He was hired to take Old Salem to the next level of excellence and has fulfilled those obligations. We accepted his decision with reluctance because he has provided a sharp focus to the strategic redesign of the organization. We are very proud of the work he has done.”
Ragan Folan brings a wealth of business experience to the Old Salem position through a successful career at IBM Lotus and more recently as an independent consultant to the company for the past 11 years. “Ragan Folan has a real passion for Old Salem Museums and Gardens and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts,” said Mr. Furr. “She is an extremely vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic and motivated leader who has been highly involved as a board member and as Chair of Old Salem. She is an inspiring leader who brings a love of Old Salem and outstanding professional credentials to the position. The Board could not be more pleased that she has agreed to lead the organization as it continues on the successful path that has been established and is working well.”
Ms. Folan holds a B.S. degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. degree from the University of Richmond. She has been President of Winghaven Consulting LLC since 1990, a company she founded to continue work for IBM Lotus Software as an independent marketing consultant. She joined IBM Lotus in 1985 after receiving her M.B.A. degree and held a number of sales and management positions while at Lotus. Ms. Folan lives in Winston-Salem with her husband and three children. She has been active in the community, serving on the board and executive committee of the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and as a board member of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. She is also a previous board member of Summit School and has served Wake Forest University Medical Center in a variety of volunteer roles. A dedicated and loyal supporter of the University of Virginia, she serves on the Curry School of Education Foundation Board and the National Committee on University Resources (NCOUR).