The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) has tapped Philippe Lafargue as Tryon Palace’s new executive director. Deanna Mitchell, the former site manager of the North Carolina State Capitol Historic Site, will serve as the assistant director. Together, they will work in partnership with NCDCR, the Tryon Palace Commission and the Tryon Palace Foundation for continued success engaging the public in the history of North Carolina; with special focus on Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center.
NCDCR Secretary Susan Kluttz made the announcement this morning during a special meeting held at the North Carolina History Center. During the announcement, she highlighted that the leadership team will function as a partnership model that will strongly contribute to Tryon Palace’s enduring success. The primary focus of this team will be to collectively maintain Tryon Palace’s mission and extend efforts to focus on fundraising, educational outreach to schools throughout North Carolina and creating more innovative visitor experiences.
“We are delighted to have Philippe and Deanna leading Tryon Palace,” said Kluttz. “Their experience, energy and knowledge will be tremendous assets to this North Carolina treasure. I expect great things will happen with this dynamic team.”
The interview committee for these two leadership positions included: Bill Cannon, chairman of the Tryon Palace Commission; John Ward, vice chairman of the Tryon Palace Commission; Nelson McDaniel, president of the Tryon Palace Foundation; and representatives from NCDCR — chief deputy secretary Karin Cochran and deputy secretary and director of the Office of Archives and History Kevin Cherry, Ph.D. These five members of the interview committee will continue to serve as an Advisory Council over the next 18 months to support the leadership partners of Lafargue and Mitchell as they promote the mission and vision of Tryon Palace during this next chapter. This teamwork among the Commission, Foundation and the Department of Cultural Resources will help confirm Tryon Palace’s role as a significant historic site and museum for the reach across North Carolina and beyond.
“I am very excited to be Tryon Palace’s new executive director,” said Lafargue. “Even though I’ve become very familiar with Tryon Palace in the 24 years that I’ve been here, I continue to be amazed by all the new opportunities to educate around history. History is alive because all of us are making history every day, and I am honored to be part of this new chapter in the life of Tryon Palace.”
Prior to his appointment to the executive director position, Lafargue assumed the role of acting director in July 2012. His tenure began at Tryon Palace in 1990, when he was appointed as a conservator. In 1995, he was promoted to the position of Technical Services Manager overseeing the overall preservation of buildings and collections. In 1999, Lafargue was appointed deputy director.
Tryon Palace’s executive director is responsible for providing the overall vision and strategic direction across the entire range of activities for the Tryon Palace Commission, staff, Foundation, volunteers and all other Tryon Palace stakeholders. Lafargue will also collaborate on programmatic development and implementation, planning, fiscal and human resources, facilities operations, organization, promotion and marketing.
“Joining the Tryon Palace family is a great honor for me,” said Mitchell, new assistant director at Tryon Palace. “My family has long enjoyed Tryon Palace and New Bern as visitors, and I look forward to working with the team at Tryon Palace to continue the success of this North Carolina gem.” Mitchell’s role as the assistant director will be to partner with Lafargue in site leadership, as well as have direct management over the Collections and Education responsibilities. She will also co-manage development efforts.
Mitchell received her M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York, and her B.A. in History from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Her 25-year career in public history and museum education includes the Smithsonian Institution, Monticello, McKissick Museum/University of South Carolina, the American Association for State and Local History, North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina State Capitol Historic Site.
Submitted by: Craig Ramey, The North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace