By Howard Pousner
The Atlanta History Center’s board of trustees has selected Sheffield Hale, an Atlanta native who has served as chief counsel for the American Cancer Society for the last decade, as its president and CEO, effective March 19.
A 25-year history center volunteer and board member from 1997 to 2010, Hale was selected after a national search.
“As we look to the history center’s future, we want to strengthen our presence in the community, and the state, as a major cultural institution,” said Hale, whose responsibilities will include shepherding a $27 million capital campaign, in a statement. “Our region is growing, and our audiences are changing. We must adapt and transform our visitor experience for all ages, cultures and learning styles to tell a more complete history of our city and meet the needs of the growing Atlanta metropolitan area in the decades to come.”
The capital campaign, according to the history center release, “will transform the Atlanta History Museum inside and out.” The transformation is to include the creation of a new exhibition that will “redefine Atlanta’s story for the 21st century audiences” as well as enhancements to event facilities and amenities.
During Hale’s tenure on the history center’s board (which he chaired from 2004 to 2006), the Atlanta institution expanded the Kenan Research Center to provide enhanced free public access to its archives and library; improved the gardens and grounds on its 33-acre Buckhead campus; added the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown to its operations; built the Centennial Olympic Games Museum; and completed restorations of the Swan House and Smith Family Farm.
“Sheffield has shown great nonprofit leadership at the American Cancer Society, he has a deep appreciation and respect of Atlanta’s history, he lives his passion for history every day through his community involvement, and he will be able to provide leadership to an organization that is positioned for a period of tremendous growth,” said David Lanier, chair of the AHC search committee.
Hale has served on the Georgia Historical Society board of curators and as chair of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. His community involvement also has included work with the Joel Chandler Harris Association, Historic Oakland Foundation (Oakland Cemetery), the Atlanta Preservation Center and Emory University Board of Visitors.
Hale succeeds Salvatore (Sal) G. Cilella Jr., AHC president and CEO since 2006, who announced his retirement last September.