Howard J. Kittell, president & CEO, Andrew Jackson FoundationQ: What's your biggest goal for the Hermitage in the next year?
A: My simplest and most direct answer is to meet or exceed our revenue goals for the coming year. However, my goal implies significantly more than money. Achieving our revenue goal will enable us to realize our mission-based goals outlined in our aspirational strategic plan. Importantly, the coming year is the 250th anniversary of Andrew Jackson’s birth. We are planning a series of programs and events to help the public better understand the impact Jackson had on the history of the United States, and raise national awareness of The Hermitage as a leading presidential museum.
Q: What's the best advice you ever received?
A: Actually, there are two pieces of advice that I regularly turn to:
- “Listen to your stomach, not your head.” Now, from time to time, my head needs to provide my stomach with background research, but my instincts tend to be spot-on.
- When starting a new initiative, you need to have the patience to allow for a “messy phase.” I have a tendency to want things in neat boxes right away. However, letting things ebb and flow for a bit encourages teamwork, buy-in, and generally produces a more successful and creative result.
Q: How has Chamber membership benefited the Hermitage?
A: The Chamber provides The Hermitage (the Andrew Jackson Foundation) staff with a means to expand our network of business contacts, is a source of information that helps us better understand the political and economic forces at work in Nashville and Tennessee that affect our business operations, and offers programs that help us refine and improve our business operations. Just because we are a nonprofit corporation does not mean we are not revenue-driven.
Q: What is the Hermitage’s response to the recent news about changes to the $20 bill?
A: The following statement is an excerpt from a letter the Andrew Jackson Foundation sent to our donors, members and constituents, and posted on social media:
As can be expected, Secretary Lew’s announcement (about replacing President Andrew Jackson’s image on the front of the $20 bill with that of Harriet Tubman, and moving the image of Jackson to the back of the bill) has drawn national attention and spirited conversation, both pro and con. Many supporters of Andrew Jackson and of his home, The Hermitage, have asked for our opinion of Treasury’s decision.
We absolutely support efforts to diversify representation on U.S. currency to recognize the array of individuals who shaped the course of our nation’s history. Both Harriet Tubman and Jackson, along with many other iconic figures, deserve to be commemorated and remembered. It should not be a Jackson-versus-Tubman contest. We need to expand the circle of individuals who are commemorated on currency as a way of telling the inspiring, complicated and messy history of our nation. As keepers of Andrew Jackson's story, we are dedicated to reminding us all why there was an Age of Jackson, who he was, and why he was revered by so many. One story should not be at the expense of another. Therein lies our disappointment.
Andrew Jackson was an iconic American who was considered in his time as the second George Washington, and whose own saga, from Revolutionary War orphan to war hero to president, became a metaphor for the emerging American identity. He was truly a self-made man who transformed our republic from a democracy in name to a democracy indeed. He inspired other presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and was revered by Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, among others. And yes, he also owned slaves, signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, and pressed for its implementation. All of these stories are on display at The Hermitage.
Howard J. Kittell
President & CEO
Andrew Jackson Foundation