Alten's firing was brash, cruel
July 23, 2020
I met Helen and her family when they first came to Haines and was impressed with her expertise and experience. I wonder what the museum board would do if they had a director who was inexperienced, accommodating and passive. Well, they might soon find out. Although a highly qualified, strong willed female director is bound to make some board members feel uncomfortable at times, what matters is what’s best for the museum, not individual board members.
How unkind, unprofessional and unnecessary for the museum board to “let go” of Helen with absolutely no advance notice. During her service she has brought thousands of grant dollars in to support improved and expanded educational programs, arts acquisition, streamlined and upgraded archiving, and local jobs.
No doubt, long term budget forecasts are grim and cuts are necessary. However, it does appear that the museum has enough funds to easily allow for a few months of transition for this outstandingly dedicated and highly competent director with plenty left over. The board could have offered her three to six months notice or at least a part time position for a time to see how much grant money could be raised to continue her position.
This brash move was cruel, undeserved and shameful. These budget concerns began long before covid. There is absolutely no excuse for such a harsh dismissal. It’s an unfortunate reality, but most nonprofits depend on grant funding and so could our museum.