It’s been exactly one month since Stephanie Lile took over as executive director for the Harbor History Museum, moving quickly from curator to director following the resignation of previous director Katharine Hensler.
While Lile may be a recently addition to the staff at the museum — having started as curator on Jan. 3 and director on March 27 — she is well known as a Gig Harbor native and brings with her a wide range of museum experience.
“It’s not a regime change but a passing of the baton,” she said of her new role. “It’s such a great place. We have such good visions for the future.”
A museum studies professor at the University of Washington Tacoma, Lile will finish teaching her classes this quarter before taking some time off to fully adjust to her director role. She has plans to expand partnerships between the museum and UWT in the future, to offer more experience to students.
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It’s not a regime change but a passing of the baton. It’s such a great place. We have such good visions for the future.
Stephanie Lile, executive director of the Harbor History Museum
Taking over as executive director is something of a full circle for Lile, whose first post-college job was as a director of a small museum. Since then she has worked to broaden her work experience, giving her a more holistic understanding to running a museum.
Moving forward, Lile says that Hensler has set the museum in a good direction which she intends to continue. Introducing new programming and offering more experiences to museum members and the community are among her goals.
“I’m looking forward to initiating some interesting new programming and looking how we can serve the membership and community with interesting and informative programs,” she said. “Really great things are just around the corner. Some I would say are game-changers.”
According to museum board president Dennis Carter, Lile was an obvious choice for the executive director role.
There was so much about her that we liked. She’s great. I think we’ve gotten very lucky.
Dennis Carter, president of Harbor History Museum board of directors
“There was so much about her that we liked,” he said. “She’s great. I think we’ve gotten very lucky.”
He added that, along with an excellent educational and career background, Lile had the added bonus of knowing the Gig Harbor community and working with Hensler.
“Stephanie got the added benefit, both during the interview process and after receiving the job, to be able to work with Katharine to listen to the initiatives she had going on,” Carter said.
Lile also sees her Gig Harbor knowledge as being an asset to her role as executive director, providing her with an insider knowledge and understanding of the community.
When I take something on I take it really seriously. I think it’s really wonderfully to head up someplace so wonderful.
“I have a pretty strong sense of the local history here,” she said. “(The museum is) a community gathering place ... we should be that place where people come to reinvest memories and events.”
Offering new events and continuing favorite programs is something that Lile is looking forward to in her role. Building up membership and increasing the financial stability of the museum are other responsibilities that Lile looks forward to tackling.
“When I take something on I take it really seriously,” she said. “I think it’s really wonderfully to head up someplace so wonderful.”
New at the museum is the opening of the NW Watercolor Society 77th annual international open exhibition, featuring 60 artists from six countries. The show opened Monday and will run through June 2, with an artists reception and awards ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday (April 29).