Hancock Shaker Village CEO Linda Steigleder to step down in November


PITTSFIELD — Linda Steigleder, president and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village, plans to step down in November after five years at the helm of the Route 20 museum.

During her tenure, Steigleder said Thursday that the museum "came out on the other side" of lean Great Recession years and is now "getting stronger, balancing our budget."

Restoration projects totaling $1.5 million were undertaken during Steigleder's tenure, funded entirely by outside gifts and grants, projects the Virginia native noted as key pieces of her legacy.

The projects ran the gamut of repair work on both the Shaker buildings — the oldest dating back more than 250 years — and more modern museum structures. Roof repairs, window replacement, new coats of paint and more were included.

Dan Cain, chairman of the board of trustees, pointed out more of Steigleder's accomplishments in a press release.

"Steigleder is a seasoned museum professional, passionate about Hancock Shaker Village and has helped strengthen earned and contributed income, diversify public-program offerings, and attract high-caliber talent to the Board of Trustees, staff and volunteer corps," Cain said.

Much of running a modern museum involves finding "innovative ways to survive financially," Steigleder said, and so went her work through the years.

Reining in state and federal grants and "learning how to operate on a more diverse budget, more income streams and some entrepreneurial behavior," comprised much of Steigleder's priorities.

But the work remains difficult.

The most recent HSV tax returns available, for 2014, show a loss of $23,483 total — $1.741 million in revenue but $1.765 million in expenses — and debt of $985,000. Net assets are listed at just over $5 million.

The recession caused contributions and grants to decline, turning a 2010 surplus of more than $1 million into a loss of more than $700,000 the following year.

According to Steigleder, though, the nonprofit's debt now totals less than $200,000.

"It's not onerous debt," Steigleder said. "I think some of our sister institutions in the Berkshires probably have more onerous debt."

She added, "We have a lot more work to do; we need more help. But it's not a place, I think, that has a mess on its hands."

Steigleder said she has taken a "spend what you raise" approach to keep budgets in check, but more needs to be done in the fundraising department.

"You can't quite keep up," she said. "That's the bear of it all. But we've done much better in the last five years."

Last year, the Dyson Foundation provided $100,000 to study a potential HSV-Berkshire Museum merger which never came to fruition. But, Steigleder said, it brought the organizations and their respective staffs closer together, and tightened up shared programming, marketing and exhibits.

Ultimately, the numbers simply didn't show significant savings to justify a potentially "painful" merger, Steigleder said.

"Some day if we want to revisit a deeper partnership, that's certainly a possibility, but it's not going to happen in the next few years," she said.

The museum's 14-member board has known of Steigleder's planned departure since the fall, and will have hired her replacement before she walks away. Prior to HSV, Steigleder managed the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, N.Y., and the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Conn. She said she doesn't plan to retire but is seeking more "flexibility."

Advising her successor, Steigleder advocated taking on future restoration projects in small batches and networking among potential donors.

"We need more help from major donors," Steigleder said. "Don't overlook a treasure like Hancock Shaker Village, it's a spiritually uplifting, fundamentally awesome, authentic place. It's worth a little attention and charitable support — or a lot."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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