From Susan Gibbs...(Sent June 7, 2004)
Dear SS United States Foundation Members and Supporters:
I am writing to update you on recent developments within the SS United States Foundation.
As you know, the SS United States was acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in April of 2003 and NCL has pledged to restore the ship to service in the coming years. NCL faces a tough road ahead: This restoration will not be easy and it will be costly.
NCL's purchase of the ship has stimulated a vigorous and healthy internal debate among the Foundation's management over the organization's future strategy and direction.
Unfortunately, the Foundation's Board of Directors was unable to achieve consensus on a short- or long-term workplan nor, most importantly, was it able to reconcile differences in leadership style and approach.
I wanted to let the full membership know that I have tendered my resignation as President of the Foundation's Board of Directors. I am very proud of the Foundation's accomplishments during my tenure and prouder still of the commitment and energy of the Foundation's entire Board of Directors, chapter chairs and members worldwide.
It has been a privilege for me to play a small part in honoring the legacy of my grandfather, William Francis Gibbs, naval architect and designer of the SS United States. He would be deeply gratified to learn of the ship's enthusiastic following, still strong 52 years after the ship's maiden voyage.
In addition to my own resignation, six other members of the Foundation's Board of Directors and Advisory Board have tendered their resignations or recently departed from the Foundation.
The Philadelphia, West Coast, Florida, and Boston Chapters of the Foundation have been disbanded.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of these individuals on behalf of the SS United States. They have all volunteered tremendous amounts of time and energy on behalf of the Big U, and they deserve thanks from all of us for their passion, skills, commitment and productivity.
The departing officials, listed alphabetically, include: Richard April, Treasurer, Board Member and Boston Chapter President. Together with Rich Rabbett, Rich established the Foundation's Boston Chapter back in 2000. He also created an independent website dedicated to the SS United States at www.ss-united-states.net and he implemented a successful legislative letter-writing campaign for the Foundation in 2002. Rich also co-moderates the vibrant "Yahoo Group" dedicated to the SS United States which now boasts over 400 members.
The SS United States Yahoo Group will continue, and if you are interested in joining, please go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ssunitedstates/ and click on "join".
Jeff Henry, Board Member since 2000 and Philadelphia Chapter Chair since 1999. Jeff has also served as Acting President and Vice President of the Foundation. Jeff has organized five successful annual meetings for the SS United States Foundation in Philadelphia and has given numerous presentations on the SS United States, including his wonderful exploration of the ties of the SS United States to Philadelphia at this year's annual meeting.
Dan McSweeney, Board Member and former Director of Media Relations, has been involved in the Foundation since 2000. Dan has played an active role in promoting the Foundation's mission and messages to the media after having returned from active duty with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Iraq last year. Dan's father emigrated from Scotland to work on the SS United States in 1952, and he continued to serve on her until her retirement in 1969, so Dan's commitment to the ship is deeply held.
Greg Norris, Board Member and Florida Chapter Chair since 2003. Greg has shared his expertise on the SS United States and maritime history in general during his keynote presentations and lectures at the Foundation's last three annual meetings. Greg recently completed a major project at the new terminal in the Port of Palm Beach, Florida, in which he produced a series of fabulous public displays of vintage liners, featuring, of course, the SS United States. Greg's affiliation with the ship goes back to his childhood as he sailed in her eight times. Greg was a frequent visitor to the ship during the Hadley years and in 1980 wrote a history of the ship for the Steamship Historical Society Journal, Steamboat Bill.
Mark Perry, Board Member and West Coast Chapter Chair. Mark, Emmy-award winning television writer and producer, developed the Foundation's award-winning West Coast Chapter website and has produced several extraordinary multi-media presentations on the SS United States that received rave reviews at the Foundation's last two annual meetings.
Richard Rabbett, Advisory Board Member and former Foundation Board member and Secretary of the Foundation as well as Boston Chapter Co-Chair, has been involved in the Foundation since 1999. He has provided a range of strategic advice on legislative outreach and nonprofit management issues and will continue to co-moderate the SS United States Yahoo Group with Rich April.
All of the departing Foundation officials remain steadfastly committed to the cause of saving the SS United States and we have begun exploring how our work will continue under new auspices.
I remain personally committed to seeing through two forthcoming SS United States-related events: The Mariners Museum in Newport News has scheduled an exciting event on the SS United States for August 12, and I will retain the lead on organizing the SS United States crew reunion and celebration among Big U enthusiasts at the "SS United States Lounge" at the Windmill Point Restaurant in Nags Head, North Carolina, on October 2. Please forward your contact information to me if you are interested in attending either of these events and you will receive further information as it becomes available.
Finally, I would like to honor Robert Westover's commitment to the SS United States and for the tremendous effort he has waged on the ship's behalf for the past seven years. Robert will continue leading the Foundation forward and he may be reached directly at email@example.com.
It has been a pleasure to work on behalf of the Foundation's membership in support of our shared commitment to the SS United States. I wish the SS United States Foundation and its membership every success in its continued and collective efforts on behalf of our national flagship.
Former President SS United States Foundation