Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Head fundraiser leaving human rights museum

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THE acting CEO of the fundraising arm of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is adding her name to the list of former employees and fundraisers of the museum.

Susan Graham has been acting as the CEO of Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights since June, when Dav Cvitokovic left to "pursue other opportunities" after less than a year in the job.

Now Graham has also tendered her resignation, effective the end of December. She is leaving for another organization in Manitoba, said board chairman John Stefaniuk.

He said he hopes to have the permanent replacement hired soon.

"We're in the process of finalizing our search," he said.

The museum has been plagued by staff departures since it was created three years ago.

At least one-third of the staff members have left their jobs, were fired or had term positions that ended.

Museum CEO Stuart Murray blamed the high turnover in part on uncertainty about the museum's funding, but former employees speaking on the condition of anonymity said many of the departures were due to interference from the museum's board in the development of the museum's content.

The board asked staff to focus more on Canadian experiences and positive Canadian stories, such as Canada's role as a haven for immigrants and refugees.

Stefaniuk couldn't say if the permanent CEO will be in place before Graham leaves but said hopefully one will be named soon after, at the latest.

He said he doesn't think it will have any impact on the organization's ability to raise money.

Stefaniuk also said it's not a problem that the CMHR no longer has anyone staffing offices in British Columbia or Alberta. The board has decided to focus on getting volunteers first, co-ordinated by the head office in Winnipeg, rather than staffing satellite offices, he said.

The five-year corporate plan for the museum tabled in Parliament last month listed fundraising as one of the four main goals for the next two years, including extending fundraising efforts beyond Manitoba to the rest of Canada and internationally.

Stefaniuk said he didn't think that would be affected by not having staff in satellite offices.

With a funding shortfall and a growing budget, the amount of money the Friends has to raise keeps growing.

The province and Ottawa both stepped in last summer to help.

Ottawa offered a $45-million advance payment on future federal funding and Manitoba recently signed an order-in-council for a $35-million loan guarantee.

The funds have allowed the museum to keep moving on construction, but the Friends will have to fundraise to pay most of those loans back.

Stefaniuk said that isn't putting any more pressure on the Friends.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2012 B1


Updated on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:00 AM CST: replaces photo

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