Readers of the Bee's recent editorial ("State railroad foundation is off the tracks," Nov. 16) will find it puzzling that the editorial board questioned the actions of the very people who helped establish the California State Railroad Museum and have raised or managed millions of dollars to support it ever since.
How disrespectful to those who have unselfishly given years of public service, donated historic railroad equipment to the collection and tirelessly supported this world-renowned cultural asset.
It is ironic that The Bee's editorial board was reduced to criticizing the number of California State Railroad Museum Foundation board members over age 65. Since when is age a deterrent to getting things done, especially fundraising? Besides, ageism just doesn't fly in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and thousands of the state's civic and business leaders are in their 70s and still going strong!
Back to the point. The foundation's board of directors is committed to supporting construction of the new California State Railroad Technology Museum on the former SP railyard property in Sacramento, and we have every intention of being successful.
We have an impressive history on which to build future efforts. In the last 15 years, the foundation has raised or managed more than $50 million to support ongoing programs at the museum. In the last five years, we have raised and invested more than $1 million and, with our State Parks partner, have secured and set aside $16 million in state and federal funds for the new California State Railroad Technology Museum.
The foundation is financially sound and is well-positioned to continue its role as a major contributor to the current and future museums.
Our board includes business leaders, financial advisers, health care professionals, attorneys, bankers, railroaders and elected officials.
We have a clear vision for the future, we work very well together, and we have complete confidence in our board Chairman Bob Slobe.
Capital campaigns always require additional community leaders to help champion the cause. The foundation has for months been assessing what board-building and additional activities must occur before launching this ambitious fundraising effort. Incidentally, the day before the editorial ran, three new members were elected to the board of directors.
The foundation has already received guidance from the same consultants who advised the Crocker Art Museum, whose successful capital campaign the editorial referenced. The foundation certainly intends to work with expert fund development professionals throughout the campaign process.
Early planning is important, but we will not begin public fundraising until ownership of the property for the future California State Railroad Technology Museum is finalized.
The editorial expressed concern over the departure of a foundation employee and a few board members. People wise in business and philanthropy know that there is always another side to a story. The departure of these individuals is a good thing for the foundation, and we aren't looking back. With a lot to accomplish, we are focused on what's ahead.
We look forward to continuing to support our friends at the California Natural Resources Agency and California State Parks; and we extend a warm welcome to new State Parks Director Anthony Jackson.
Working with businesses, philanthropic foundations, public agencies and individual donors, we will bring the world a rail technology museum that California will be proud of.