Over the past several years, AAAM has worked closely with the Compass Group to create a strategic and fundraising plan for the organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Director. Below, please find a highlight from The Compass Group as it pertains to their work with AAAM’s Member, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park.
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With the duality of a global pandemic and a national social justice movement top of mind, Compass President Robert Bull pens a Position Statement that draws on Compass’ rich history of supporting others to outline the firm’s role in the current environment.
how as a fundraising consulting firm, Compass is dedicated to serving as both an unparalleled resource and solution for nonprofits in our country during this critical time.
In early 2020, Compass partnered with Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, an African American historic site in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina whose mission is “to preserve, promote and honor Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States.” Compass’ role is to prepare the organization for its first capital campaign to fund a Master Plan that brings the site to life.
The plan activates the 24-acre site of modern-day Historic Mitchelville though interpretive mediums, architectural structures, pedestrian trails, and curated experiences that respect the site’s origins. It includes an 18,000-square-foot Interpretive Center; interpretive buildings; a trail for an augmented reality tour; a 4,000-square-foot classroom and lab building; and two central outdoor gathering and interpretive spaces. Collectively, the components of the Master Plan create an opportunity for visitors to learn the history of the site and to honor the African Americans who pioneered at Mitchelville.
Neither Ahmad Ward
, Executive Director of Historic Mitchelville, or Carey Pickard
, Vice President of Compass, are strangers to the African American historic site world. Prior to joining Mitchelville, Ahmad spent 18 years with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama while Carey served as director and chief executive officer of the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Georgia for more than 12 years.
Now, with a Master Plan envisioned and Compass at its side, Historic Mitchelville launches its multimillion-dollar campaign to fund the site’s Master Plan. Carey, lead Compass consultant of the fundraising initiative, takes a deeper dive with Ahmad.
Carey Pickard (CP): What makes Historic Mitchelville so special?
Ahmad Ward (AW): It is the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States! This is such an important part of the American story. It is literally the place where citizenship, entrepreneurship, and freedom began for so many Americans.
CP: What is different about this African American site from some others in the area, or even across the nation?
AW: Mitchelville is so much more than history. It is so much more than what happened here and who lived here at the time – it was here for the time it needed to be here, but its legacy is much greater as residents of Mitchelville took what they learned here and settled across America. So we are going to honor that and focus on how the story connects forward. We are not going to do period dress, or reenactments. There is a place for those, but with Mitchelville, we are going to highlight discourse and contemplation and connecting it to today – and tomorrow.
CP: What motivates you to move forward this Master Plan?
AW: I don’t want anyone to find out about Mitchelville the way I did – through happenstance. After more than a century in obscurity and with a social justice movement underway, the time to activate Historic Mitchelville is now, and the way to do so is through completion of the Master Plan. This includes an Interpretive Center for contemporary exhibitions and events; interpretive trails and silhouette structures of the original community; a classroom and lab for continuous discovery; and outdoor spaces for gathering and reflecting.
CP: Why is this an ideal time to launch a campaign?
AW: This is a moment in which inequity and racial disparity are not only at the forefront of discussion, but at the forefront of actions. And to fully honor and celebrate today’s citizens, we must also honor and celebrate those who came before them — those who pioneered at Historic Mitchelville.
CP: Why did you select Compass for such a special project?
AW: I knew Compass would be an invested partner and together, we could get it done. We aren’t looking to get it done with a learning curve or with fits and starts. We are looking to partner with a firm who understands our mission, our goal, and how to succeed by ensuring things get done in the right way.
CP: You mentioned wanting others to know about Mitchelville and so once they do know about it and come and visit, how do you want them to experience the site?
AW: This is why the Master Plan is so meaningful. It provides countless opportunities for visitors to learn and to engage. It is about finding connections with even those who do not care about history. It is about creating experiences for all visitors to leave the site encouraged. And inspired.
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