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Colonial Williamsburg announces reorganization, job cuts

Colonial Williamsburg announces reorganization, it comes with job cuts.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Mitchell Reiss announced an unspecified number of job cuts Thursday, as part of a re-organization in order to "refocus on its core mission of education."

According to a Colonial Williamsburg official the position eliminations will affect fewer than 60 out of the foundation's approximately 2,560 employees.

The net number of jobs lost is not known at this time, because there will be new hires in the education initiative.

According a press release, Colonial Williamsburg has experienced 12 straight  months of revenue and attendance growth.

And while that presents an opportunity, that opportunity comes with costs.

The foundation will establish a new Education, Research and Historical Interpretation Division, which will incorporate a new Institute for Teacher Professional Development, to carry on the work Colonial Williamsburg has been doing in that area for  more than 25 years.

Other functions that were formerly part of the Productions, Publications and Learning Ventures Division including media production and publications will be part of the Strategic Communications Division.

Colonial Williamsburg is creating a new Manager of Diversity and Inclusion in the Human Resources Division who will work to ensure that the foundation’s work force reflects diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

The changes will require a number of staff cuts, which Colonial Williamsburg employees were hearing about from their managers Thursday.

"It was my sincere hope that we could achieve our goals for Colonial Williamsburg without losing a single employee," Reiss said in a message sent to the Colonial Willamsburg work force. "Just over a month ago, I stood before you pledging to do all I could to protect the jobs of everyone wanting to work here and demonstrating a commitment to our mission, and our values. But as I also acknowledged then, I knew I could not guarantee job security for everyone."

The job cuts include some at high levels of the foundation and are spread out, including cuts in the hospitality division.

Thursday's news was the latest in a series of changes that Reiss has carried out in his year and a half at the reins of Colonial Williamsburg.

 "I have long maintained that for our remarkable institution to endure, we must accept, indeed embrace, change. This is no simple task, as the very concept of continuity lies at the core of our mission of historic preservation," Reiss wrote to employees. "But in addition to protecting and preserving this singular group of buildings and collections, we must remain vigilant as the intellectual stewards of the history they represent ensuring that this history continues to resonate meaningfully across the generations, across our nation, and throughout the world.
It is in service of this important mission that we continue to undertake a significant restructuring of our Foundation."

According to Reiss, the foundation remains' committed to educational outreach as a core function but is redefining the definition. It hopes to concentrate most of its educational outreach resources on on-site teacher training and visiting school groups.

Two departments, the Department of Publications, which publishes Trend & Tradition, Colonial Williamsburg's new magazine, and the Department of Video Production will be put in a new division, Strategic Communications.

Sharon Dorsey, a member of the Division of Human Resources will serve as the foundation's new Manager of Diversity and Inclusion.

A new department of special events will also be created to oversee theatrical programs, donor events and other special offerings.

Reiss, in his message to employees said the chief reason for the reorganization was "our need to commit more resources to our front lines, particularly in the Historic Area."

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