It's sad when so many current and former employees feel that they were mistreated by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Many people have devoted their entire working lives to CW and have gotten very little in return. I know of many highly skilled individuals who chose to work for wages well below what they might have earned elsewhere. They made the choice to work for CW because they believed in the dream of the Foundation.
As eternal optimists, they believed that the Foundation would finally find its way, that hard work would be appreciated and that everyone would be treated with dignity and respect. As new executives and agendas came and went, hopes were dashed and most employees continued to be under-appreciated and not respected.
The Foundation executives always focus on budgets, but money is not the problem.
Most CW employees and former employees want to be valued for their efforts, skills and knowledge. They chose careers that they loved, knowing full well that they would never be rich in terms of money but would instead be rich through experience. Yes, they require a living wage but their compensation package includes opportunities to obtain unique experiences, being respected and feeling appreciated. Mostly, they want to be able to again trust that being part of CW means something good for the visitors, the study of history and the livelihoods of all involved. In other words, they want to again believe that they can and do make a positive contribution to their community.
Absent significant change in the thought processes, strategies and actions at the highest levels of the organization, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will never again enjoy the respect and success of its past. Now is the time for Mitchell Reiss to focus on the lessons to be learned from the many former employees who are now so very bitter and disappointed. They have a story to tell. Will anyone listen?
Eleanor A. Hunter