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American Independence Museum to Expand Board

American Independence Museum to Expand Board

Founded in 1991, the American Independence Museum will celebrate 30 years as a nonprofit and the 300th anniversary of its Ladd-Gilman House, milestones that are leading to an expansion of its Board in 2021.

“The Board provides leadership and governance to a dedicated team of staff and volunteers,” said Emma Stratton, museum executive director. “They are integral to our success through their work on various committees, spreading the word about our museum and securing support for our important work.”

Citing the museum as in a period of rapid growth, Ozzie Ayscue, president of the museum’s Board of Governors, said they are looking for “energetic team players.”

“We need individuals who are able to provide seasoned strategic leadership and governance and, at the same time, action-minded and willing to roll up their sleeves when needed,” he said . 

Specific needs for the museum’s Board include expertise in facilities and collections management, digital/virtual learning and exhibits, fundraising and legal.

“Even if you don’t fall neatly into one of those buckets, we encourage you to apply and let’s have a conversation,” he added. “We also have a robust ambassador program that can be a lighter commitment and sometimes a stepping stone to board roles.” 

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.

Museum welcomes new president to the board

In January, Ozzie Ayscue of Exeter was elected president of its Board of Governors. The appointment follows two years of service on the board during which time Ayscue said he became increasingly motivated by the museum’s mission.

“The mission really resonated with me, especially the part about ‘encouraging and inspiring civic engagement today,’” he said. “It is vitally important to find clever ways to help people to slow down and gain a deeper understanding of the people, places and ideas of American Independence from all sides. With that base of knowledge, people will be more excited to engage in civic life in a constructive manner.”

He also expressed interest in the museum’s assets, which include a Broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence printed on July 4, 1776 and working drafts of the US Constitution with handwritten corrections.

“The potential for storytelling and enabling an intimate experience with these and many other amazing items are a huge opportunity for the museum,” he said.

While not an Exeter native, Ayscue said he is also excited at the prospect to give back to a town that helped lay the foundation for his future.

“I first experienced Exeter and New Hampshire as a 3-year boarding student at Phillips Exeter Academy,” he said. “I never imagined I would return here later in life, but I am glad I did.”

As for his role as president of the Board of Governors, Ayscue said his first goal is to support museum staff and the important work that is already underway. Some of this work includes the Traveling Trunk program, presented by Service Credit Union, and the planning behind the 3rd Beer for History.

“Beer for History is sponsored by Hoefle Phoenix Gormley & Roberts—and we are thrilled at this renewed partnership and the many partners who help advance our mission,” he said. “Our events and programs reflect a steady effort to enliven visitors’ museum experience so they come away with something a little deeper and different each time they visit.”

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.

To learn more about the museum, which opens for the 2018 season on Saturday, May 5 with free admission for NH residents, visit