Marshals Museum president Dunn to retire, Alice Alt named for the job

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,242 views 

Rendering of aerial view of the planned U.S. Marshals Museum in downtown Fort Smith.

Alice Alt, vice president of development for the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation, will take over for retiring president Jim Dunn on Monday (July 1). Dunn, who has served as the foundation’s president, will retire effective Monday and become president emeritus.

In this role, he will continue his focus on fundraising and special projects on a part-time basis, a news release from the foundation states.

“We are proud of Jim’s success, both as president of the United States Marshals Museum and foundation,” said Patrick Weeks, president and CEO, USMM. “We thank him for his service and dedication—not only to the project, but the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Constitution and Rule of Law. With Alice at the helm, we’re excited to build on Jim’s achievements and complete the project.”

In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015 on a site near the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017. Fundraising delays pushed the opening date of the estimated 50,000-square-foot facility to September 2019.

According to museum information, there are five sections of the museum experience: To Be a Marshal, The Campfire: Stories under the Stars, Frontier Marshals, A Changing Nation, and Modern Marshals. The museum also plans to include a monument from the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma, a National Learning Center, a Hall of Honor, retail space, and a cafe.

The museum is set to dedicate the building and the Hall of Honor Sept. 24, the 230th anniversary of the Marshals service. The goal is to open the museum late 2020, museum officials have said.

While Dunn was president the museum foundation raised more than $34 million (in cash pledges and in-kind donations) of the $37 million raised to date for the museum. The museum launched a GoFundMe campaign in April to raise $2 million to pay for production of “guest experiences” at the U.S. Marshals Museum and help close the gap on $15.3 million needed to complete the facility.

Alt said that campaign is going well and hopes to see that money raised soon. According to the museum’s GoFundMe page, $7,365 had been raised by Saturday (June 29.) At the time the campaign was announced, Dunn said it was created in response to requests about how to help with fundraising. Redwood City, Calif.-based GoFundMe keeps 2.9% of donations. From 2010 to 2017, the online platform raised more than $5 billion through more than two million campaigns.

Also in April, the U.S. Marshals Museum received $1 million from Northwest Arkansas-based real estate investor Laurice Hachem, who is also a member of the foundation board.

A call for a sales tax came after fundraising efforts fell short of closing the gap. Fort Smith voters on March 12 rejected a one-cent, nine-month sales tax that would have raised an estimated $16 million for completion of the museum. At the time, the museum had raised enough money – $35.5 million – to pay for construction of the facility, which began in July 2018. The remaining funds were needed to build the exhibits and “experience” of the museum.

Alt says she is excited to be taking over as president of the foundation and continuing the work being done.

“It’s an honor. I love Fort Smith. I love the museum. This is noble work, honoring a noble institute and the people who work for it,” Alt said. “It’s all really exciting. Jim has done an amazing job, and we have some really exciting things that are coming up very soon.”

Since 2014, Alt has spearheaded fundraising, marketing, public relations, employee development and team management for the museum.