Coast Guard Museum effort gets new leadership, marks record year in fundraising

New London — The National Coast Guard Museum Association this week announced leadership changes and boasted that 2018 has been its most successful private fundraising year to date.

The association also announced that President and CEO Dick Grahn will be stepping down. Wes Pulver, the executive director of the museum association who's worked closely with Grahn, will take over as president.

Grahn, who left his job at a Boston law firm to work for the museum association about four years ago, will step down at the end of year. He will return to his role as general counsel to the museum association "in order to concentrate on the legal issues involved with the project and to spend more time with my family," he said in a statement published in the museum association's annual report.

Grahn won't be drawing a salary, but will work on a contract basis, according to museum association spokesman Drew Forster.

Susan Curtin, partner, Power Family Enterprises LP, and president of the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., will replace James Coleman Jr., as chairman of the board. She's served on the board since 2014. Curtin is the daughter of James David Power III, founder of J.D. Power & Associates, a leading market research company. Power, who served in the Coast Guard, has donated $1 million to the museum effort.

Coleman, a New Orleans lawyer who purchased Union Station for $3 million in 2015 to help facilitate construction of the museum adjacent to the station, is now chairman emeritus.

The board of directors voted unanimously at its annual meeting in Alexandria, Va., last week to approve Pulver and Curtin to their positions.

The museum association also announced $41.8 million in "commitments" to date toward the estimated $100 million museum, including a recent $1 million donation from BP. The donation will establish a BP Innovation Gallery, an interactive exhibit space that will highlight how technology and engineering advances support energy production in the U.S. and around the world.

The museum association has also received $20 million from the state to be used for construction of a pedestrian bridge to provide access to the museum, and $5 million in federal funding. The museum association is anticipating $30 million in federal support. The association has raised a total of $16.8 million in private money, $6.8 million of which was raised in 2018. 

Forster said that the museum association would not be publically releasing a fundraising goal for 2019. The group has enough money to cover the cost of designs and construction documents, "but in order to begin construction we need additional funding," he said.

The goal is to be shovel ready — meaning construction documents and any necessary permitting is complete — by next fall. The museum is in the final design stages. This month, contractors for the museum association presented a 75 percent schematic design of the museum exhibits to the Coast Guard. The full schematic design is expected to be complete early next year.

j.bergman@theday.com

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