The Charlotte Museum of History has named UNC Charlotte alumna Adria Focht as its new president and CEO, effective Nov. 27. Focht comes to the museum from the Kings Mountain Historical Museum, where she was director and curator.
“Adria brings passion, energy and extensive experience with museum operations to The Charlotte Museum of History,” said Mary Newsom, chair of the board of trustees for The Charlotte Museum of History. “She also has strong connections to Charlotte and to the region’s history organizations, as well as deep knowledge of North Carolina history. We know she is the right person to lead the museum into the future. She’ll help us keep on sharing this community’s past as a way to inspire conversation about today’s events and issues.”
Focht earned bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and art from UNC Charlotte in 2005. She earned her master’s degree in historical archaeology from East Carolina University.
During her tenure at the Kings Mountain Historical Museum, Focht nearly doubled annual visitation to the site, engaged new and diverse audiences and enhanced visitor experiences, all while dramatically increasing the museum’s annual income through new programs.
Prior to her position at Kings Mountain, Focht held history management positions with the National Park Service, including at the Museum Resource Center in Maryland and at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site in Atlanta, where she managed the museum’s collections and archives at facilities that received more than 700,000 visitors a year. She also has held positions with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, where she worked at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Laboratory in Greenville, N.C., and at the East Carolina University Field School in Historical Archaeology, where she supervised and instructed students conducting historic site excavation.
“I am extremely excited by this opportunity to serve the community as president and CEO of The Charlotte Museum of History,” Focht said. “I am encouraged by the support of the museum’s fantastic board members, staff and regional partners. As a Charlotte area resident and long-time patron of the museum, I have developed a love for the region’s history and for this organization that strengthens my dedication to championing the museum’s next chapter of growth.”
The museum’s board of trustees chose Focht as the museum’s new president and CEO after a nationwide executive search, with help from Next Stage Consulting LLC, a strategy and implementation firm for nonprofits. The search sourced candidates from throughout the country, with a focus on experience, skillset and enthusiasm for The Charlotte Museum of History’s mission.
The museum has a long-standing partnership with UNC Charlotte, including service on its board by Newsom, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute’s Director of Urban Policy Initiatives, and by Nancy A. Gutierrez, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Faculty members also have worked with the museum on initiatives, including most recently a Nov. 12 half-day symposium on World War I, hosted by the museum, with expertise provided by UNC Charlotte history faculty members and support from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Karen Cox’s graduate students in the public history program in the Department of History have been studying the museum’s initiative to preserve the Siloam Schoolhouse, a now-dilapidated early 20th century school built for rural African American children in the vicinity of what’s now UNC Charlotte. Additionally, Focht has been supportive of the college’s efforts, such as through a roundtable of Anthropology Department alumni who talked with students about career options.
The Charlotte Museum of History engages a broad audience in the history of the Charlotte region through the stories of its people, places and events to promote dialogue and historical perspective. The museum is the steward of the Hezekiah Alexander House (ca. 1774) and home site, a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. To learn more, visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook and Twitter (@CLThistory).
Words and image courtesy of The Charlotte Museum of History.