Historical Society's former director returns

February 17, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

During an emergency meeting Tuesday evening, the Washington County Historical Society board appointed their former executive director to temporarily reassume that post, which was vacated last week by Linda J.M. Chatfield.

Chatfield, who took over the executive director post on June 1, 1998, was dismissed from the job on Feb. 9.

She had replaced Marjorie S. Peters, who retired Dec. 31, 1998, after 23 years as executive director. Peters will step back into the post on an interim and part-time basis.

The Historical Society had conducted an extensive search for an executive director, according to Lee Stine, the society's president.

Stine said last week that "it just didn't work out."

After the meeting Tuesday night, Stine said the board made no decision about a replacement. He refused to comment further.

Chatfield was formerly employed by the Baltimore City Life Museum in Baltimore until it closed in July 1997. She holds a degree in fine arts from Boston University and has studied painting and design.


Chatfield said she moved to Hagerstown from Baltimore to take the executive director position. "I went into debt moving here," she said.

Chatfield said she has no idea why was asked to leave the job.

"I was told it wasn't working out and that I was dismissed for cause. They didn't give me a reason," she said.

"It's really unfortunate," she said.

Chatfield said she disagreed with the amount of time she trained under Peters.

"There was too much overlap - six months. That's too long. I was in charge but I wasn't in charge," she said.

Chatfield said she had advised the Historical Society on several ethical matters and they failed to take her advice.

She said the main bone of contention was the society's failure to produce a five- to 10-year strategic plan.

Chatfield said she discussed the need for such a plan in her job interview and waited to receive one.

"A committee was not even formed," she said.

Not having such an outline of goals made her job more difficult, she said.

"I was not aware what their outlook was," she said. "It's hard to raise funds when you don't know what's going on."

Chatfield said she will look for employment outside Washington County.

"There's no hard feelings. I wish the organization well. I hope they get their act together. They are a wonderful resource for the community," she said.

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