The MAAFM was honored to receive a 2011 Building History Participation Grant from the Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission. We were one of just four organizations in the area selected, along with the Mauricetown Historical Society, New Sweden Colonial Farmstead, and Seabrook Educa-tional and Cultural Center.The grant focused on strategic planning and build-ing the capacity of historic organizations and brought us the knowledge and expertise of three consultants — Howard Green, Vicki Kramer, and Nancy Moses — to work with the museum board and executive director. The opportunity to interact closely with three highly respected experts, all with decades of experience working at and for museums and non-profit groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was truly immeasurable.The consultants sent detailed surveys to board members, held special planning meetings, reviewed documents, and observed board meetings. After encouraging dialogue and gathering information, they made suggestions about refining our mission and areas to focus on in the short and long term.
A culminating session was held on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at the Luciano Conference Center of Cumberland County College. Matt Pisar-ski, principal planner for Cumberland County, discussed general findings and ways to overcome the challenges that impact all four participating organizations. Executive director Lisa Jester and board members Chuck Wyble, Russell Davis, Donna Vertolli, Andy Kondrach, Jerry Benfer, Ed Lazar-check, and Robert Trivellini all attended. The event included an opportunity to meet and interact with board members from the other organizations, learn about each, and discuss ways to partner on future projects and events.
The event also included a major announcement made by the Cultural and Heritage Commission board chair Roy Kaneshiki, that the commission will be funding an initiative to pay for organizational memberships for different state and national his-torical organizations. Knowledge gained through these valuable memberships will build organizational capacity and help the museum obtain future funding. The MAAFM, along with the other historical groups, received detailed individual comprehensive assessments based on the consultant visits. The museum has already begun to implement a number of the recommendations from the three consultants. Major components from the assessments are going to be used in our plans for the museum’s future.
Funding for the MAAFM 2011 Building History Participation Grant was made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission.