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Q&A With Michelle Powers Keegan, Chief Development Officer

When did you start as chief development officer at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute?
I started with the Foundation in October of 2019.  My second day with the Foundation was the opening of our Egypt’s Lost Cities exhibit at the Reagan Museum, which was an incredible, historic look at two cities in Egypt that were buried for centuries. 

What has been the most enjoyable part of your time at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute?
Getting to know our donors and members across the country.  They are a special bunch of people, and they are just as passionate about President Reagan and his legacy as I am.  I have visited with donors in Nashville, Tennessee; New York City; Newport Beach, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and beyond.  It is the highlight of my job to meet with our supporters and work with them.  I also have loved seeing our wonderful events in action, from our engaging speaker series to our Veterans Day and President Reagan’s birthday events in California, to our new Reagan Institute events in Washington, D.C., we have something for everyone here, and they are all so professionally done by our team at the Foundation.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your role and the work that you do?
The biggest challenge is not being able to host our supporters in person, either through events, visiting the museum, and getting our new Reagan Institute in Washington, D.C., open to the public.  We had planned to have a grand opening of the Institute in April 2020, and, of course, that is postponed.  We, like many other organizations, had to shift our programs to a virtual format.  Luckily, we have a very capable team and were able to pivot quickly to the “new normal.”  We have hosted over 50 virtual events with speakers ranging from Cabinet Secretaries to CEO’s of major corporations to sitting governors.  We also brought our entire education programs into the virtual realm with great results.  We actually have been able to reach even more young people through our virtual programs than in previous years.  I call that making lemonade out of lemons!

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute?
Educating young Americans about President Reagan’s principles of individual liberty, economic opportunity, global democracy, and national pride is going to be a critical part of our work in the coming years.  Our education team is currently developing new resources that are focused on these principles for teachers, students and lifelong learners.  These programs are the cornerstone to engage future generations in not only preserving, but promoting President Reagan’s legacy. 

What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming year? 
Well, I would say that the first is getting our entire country fully back in business again, and hopefully seeing an end to this pandemic.  The second is being able to welcome visitors again to our Library and Museum in California—it’s been a lonely place without them.  We have some really exciting new exhibits planned at the Museum for 2021 focusing on the history of the FBI to a retrospective on World War II.  Finally, I am excited about opening the Reagan Institute offices, our brand new “East Coast” headquarters in Washington, D.C.

What can Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute constituents do to help support the Library and Museum during its closure?  
I wouldn’t be the chief development officer if I didn’t ask people to continue supporting us as a donor or member.  We can’t bring the wonderful education programs I mentioned to thousands of young people without your donations.  The other thing I would recommend is you stay engaged with us online and via social media.  We are doing some really innovative and engaging programs in the virtual realm, and they only way to engage with them is to like, follow, and sign up for updates. 

 

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