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June 17, 2014

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Appoints Mitchell B. Reiss President and CEO

From left, Colin G. Campbell, Michael B.  Reiss, the newly appointed foundation president and CEO, and and Tom Farrell, chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board.

From left, outgoing Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Colin G. Campbell, Mitchell B. Reiss, the newly appointed foundation president and CEO, and Tom Farrell, the foundation’s board chairman.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., (June 17, 2014) – The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has appointed Mitchell B. Reiss president and CEO, effective October 6, 2014. Reiss will succeed Colin G. Campbell, who has held the position for 14 years.

Reiss joins The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation from Washington College, a leading liberal arts college in Chestertown, Maryland, where he serves as president. Previously, Reiss held positions at the College of William & Mary, where he increased funding to support academic positions, expanded international programs and exchanges, and taught in the School of Law. Throughout his career he also served as an international negotiator, a national security expert and a consultant to governments, corporations and philanthropic foundations.

“In Mitchell Reiss we have found the ideal candidate who has a range of experience in the public and private sectors,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman of the Board. “Colonial Williamsburg will benefit from his understanding of the intersection of education and preservation in a contemporary world.”

Reiss will focus on advancing Colonial Williamsburg as a leading center for history and citizenship with innovative, interactive experiences for the living history museum’s visitors.

“Colonial Williamsburg has long been an institution committed to keeping alive the conversation about America’s founding principles,” Reiss said. “This conversation is as relevant today as it was at our country’s origin, and increasingly important to individuals around the world seeking their own pathways to freedom and human dignity.”

Campbell led Colonial Williamsburg through both the tourism and economic challenges that followed 9/11 and the great recession of 2009.  He oversaw a $200 million investment to modernize hospitality facilities and directed a shift in programming that capitalized on the introduction of interactive strategies including street theater, new media and digital devices.

“On behalf of the board, I also wish to thank Colin for his invaluable service these past 14 years,” said Farrell. “He will leave a legacy for which we are enormously grateful.  He changed the institution from one that simply imparted historical facts to one that uses the past as a platform to teach civics, focuses on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and stimulates thought about the ‘Idea of America.’ The institution overall is stronger both in its mission and its financial health due to his leadership.”

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to lead Colonial Williamsburg through challenging times,” Campbell said. “Mitchell Reiss is the perfect choice to lead this extraordinary place into the future. I have known him for many years and have great respect for his intellectual curiosity and his deep commitment to community. I look forward to doing everything I can to support his presidency.”

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  1. Congratulations to Mr.Reiss. Thank you Mr. Campbell for your many years of service to Colonial Williamburg. Now perhpas the restoration of Carter’s Grove will be returned to the people.

  2. When I first read the announcement on the website that a search was on for a new president and CEO, my first thought was it should be a successful college president. There are so many common tasks. Operating a complex organization on a limited budget, making what you are offering known. Developing and maintaining a focused purpose across multilple disciplines. Presenting a unified vision to the organization and to the public. Of course there is teaching and research.
    Seems to me a very good choice has been made. I wish Mitchell Reiss and Colonial Williamsburg continued success.

  3. Mr. Reiss mentioned ‘founding principles”; indeed, so very important. Reopen the Raleigh Tavern on a daily basis as it is crucial to discussions of our nation’s “founding principles”!

    Mr. Smith’s comment on Carter’s Grove is so very important as well.

    Thank you to everyone who has preserved and interpreted Wms’bg from Mr. Rockefeller to Mr. Reiss.

  4. Thank you Mr and Mrs. Campbell for your many years of dedication and thoughtful commitment to the ideals of our Colonial Williamsburg.

    Mr. Reiss I offer an enthusiastic welcome to you and your family to this remarkable Williamsburg community, and to the new leadership you will provide to our Foundation.

    I am a happy gardener in CW’s Landscape Division. I have also served CW as a Concierge in our Williamsburg Inn, and as an Actor Interpreter and a Story Teller for children. Continually I am amazed at the good fortune that has placed me here. It is both an honor and a privilege for me to be a small part of this lofty endeavor.

    Mr. Campbell, I know that is true for you as well. Mr. Reiss, I’m fairly certain that will be your finding as well.

    If there is any way, from my humble position, that I may be of help with the transition or any new beginnings, please let me know. I’ll dust the dirt off my hands, sharpen my tools and be there to serve our “One Foundation”.

  5. Mr. Campbell,

    Thank you so much for your many years of support for the “Under the Redcoat” program. It adds so much depth to our understanding of this country’s founding. We learn that Redcoats, Loyalists, (and even Hessians!) were real people, too.

    Good luck to you, sir.


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