Cleveland, OH— Kelly Falcone-Hall has been named Chief Executive Officer of Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS). The announcement was made by Don Dailey, Chair of the Board of Trustees, at the June 25 board meeting. Falcone-Hall had been serving as Interim CEO of WRHS for six months.
“Kelly presents an unusual story in the world today. In her 19 years with WRHS, she has worked at every level, held a variety of positions with increasing responsibility, and continues to interact with staff in every department. She knows the ‘back room,’ the front of the house, the board room, and the community. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. Both her undergraduate and her Master’s Degree are from Cleveland State University, described as one of ‘America’s Best Colleges’ by US News & World Report,” said Dailey. “She is like many from Northeast Ohio in that her family has roots in other countries; her grandfather, Mario Falcone, was an Italian immigrant, and her mother’s ancestors were farmers descended from Ireland and England. Kelly’s interest in family history was one of the draws that first pulled her into the archives and all the stories that are held at WRHS.”
“Nonprofits are less likely to fill senior positions from within. It is more prevalent in for-profit businesses,” said Glenn Anderson, Jr., a partner at On Search Partners, an executive search firm, and the incoming Chair of the WRHS Board of Trustees. “But when the right candidate is within the organization, it is in the best interest of the institution to promote her, as our Board chose to do through a unanimous vote. WRHS has worked diligently and smartly over the recent past to develop a Strategic Plan, to create a solid financial footing, to make some excellent hires in critical positions, to boldly instill innovation and creativity into its decisions about exhibits, to secure new collection items—such as the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel, and to work to change from a traditional museum culture to an organization that is visitor-centric. The institution is now well positioned to take a solid top-tier, top-of-mind rank in Northeast Ohio. The institutional knowledge needed at the helm during this vital next phase helped make Ms. Falcone-Hall the best candidate.”
Falcone-Hall is a resident of Westlake, Ohio. She joined WRHS in 1995 as a reference assistant and manuscript processer. She has served in positions of increasing responsibility at WRHS over the last 19 years, including Director of Interpretation at Hale Farm & Village, Vice President of Hale Farm & Village, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Chief Operating Officer, and Interim Chief Executive Officer, before being promoted to CEO.
At Hale Farm & Village, Falcone-Hall developed popular public programs, including the Holiday Lantern Tours and A Fugitive’s Path: Escape on the Underground Railroad. Her research and leadership deepened the living history museum’s interpretation of the early American crafts and trades, improved restoration of Hale Farm’s buildings and grounds, and guided the location’s mission and strategic initiatives. She developed the concept of InHale as an educational and experiential initiative to reconnect people to the world around them through sharing stories about the Hale family and providing a variety of experiences based on the life of an Ohioan in the 1800s. She is the author of Hale Farm & Village, a booklet about the history of the re-created village and living history museum in Bath Township, Ohio. Falcone-Hall was instrumental in bringing the 2013 national conference of the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums to Akron and Bath Township. The event drew international interest to Hale Farm & Village and Western Reserve Historical Society.
“I am humbled by this vote of confidence in my leadership and in the team at Western Reserve Historical Society,” said Kelly Falcone-Hall. “This is a phenomenal institution with a mission that is vital to preserving history. The future is very bright for us. All the pieces are in place to truly jump to the top of mind position for anyone looking to find out about any history in Northeast Ohio. I feel as if I have been preparing for this opportunity all my life.” Ms. Falcone-Hall is the 10th person to hold the most senior position at WRHS.
The Western Reserve Historical Society is the premier center for collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of Northeast Ohio. As a testament to its financial solidarity, it has received the coveted four-star ranking from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. WRHS received a 70 out of 70 on “Accountability and Transparency” from the evaluation service, acknowledging the highest levels of financial stewardship and professionalism.