HPLM director of development retiring after 12 years with organization

The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums’ director of development, who led the organization’s largest-ever fundraising campaign and introduced new ways of raising money for the organization, is retiring.

Kathy Boukissen will retire on Friday, May 31, after 12 years as the organization’s director of development.

“We’ve really worked as a team here, and people feel the passion we have,” Boukissen said. “I’ve never felt like it was a job or career because of my love for the organization and what we stand for. I truly believe in it.”

During her years at Hayes Presidential, Boukissen introduced sponsorships for events and programs, helped connect numerous Hayes family members with the organization, started the Gateway to the Future annual fundraising appeal and began the annual membership appeal to recruit and retain Hayes Presidential members. Additionally, she has written grants to obtain funding for programs and exhibits.

She also led the Centennial Campaign, which was the largest fundraising campaign in Hayes Presidential’s history and its first major private funding campaign, during 2015-2016. The organization celebrated its centennial in 2016 with a complete renovation of the museum and new, handicapped-accessible main entrance, among other improvements.

The campaign goal was $1 million, and the organization far surpassed that by raising $1.8 million for the project. Boukissen’s past experience with running fundraising campaigns allowed Hayes Presidential to rely on her instead of hiring a consultant, saving thousands of dollars.

“Kathy has made a huge impact on the forward motion of this organization,” said Christie Weininger, Hayes Presidential executive director. “I have developed a healthy respect for Kathy’s philosophy behind fundraising.  She is sincere and energetic in meetings with potential donors, taking the time to facilitate strong relationships between Hayes Presidential and our investors.”

Building relationships is what Boukissen has enjoyed most about her job.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, and I enjoy finding a way to coordinate where their passion for giving is with an area that benefits both them and Hayes Presidential,” she said.

Making connections with Hayes descendants has been very special to her.

In 2009, a small group of Hayes family had a reunion at Hayes Presidential. During the 2016 Centennial Celebration more than 200 Hayes family members from 22 states and Canada had a reunion at Hayes Presidential and spent time with staff and getting to know the area.

Her experience in past jobs also helped her understand the perspectives of being the fundraiser and being the business asked to donate.

Before coming to Hayes Presidential, she was the director of development at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School for 10 years. Before her job at SJCC, she owned The Fanatic Sporting and Gift Store that was located in Potter Village Shopping Center in Fremont.

“At The Fanatic, I was asked to donate,” she said. “When I came to the other side, I knew how it felt to be the person asked to give. So it helped me to understand that side of it.”

In her years at Hayes Presidential, Boukissen has seen difficult times and plenty of growth. During the recession in 2008, the organization lost $230,000 in state funding, which caused it to cut staff salaries and close on Mondays all year until 2015.

“During my 12 years, when there were budget restraints, I’ve enjoyed watching how our staff pulled together,” she said. “We never discontinued any type of programming. People just pulled together and did want they needed to do. We also continued to raise more private dollars each year.”

In recent years, the organization has grown, adding more programming and staff. Social media has made it easier to connect with supporters and Hayes family members, really helping people feel a part of what Hayes Presidential does, she said. 

During retirement, she and her husband, Rob, plan to spend more time with their kids, five grandkids, her large extended family and friends. She plans to spend time at Lake Erie, riding her bike and traveling.

She said she will miss the staff and the many people who help Hayes Presidential, and she will continue to support the organization and its efforts.

“I’ve had a wonderful experience here, and I hope people continue to generously support the Hayes Presidential,” she said. 

The Hayes Presidential is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner of the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. Hayes Presidential is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit rbhayes.org. Like HPLM on Facebook at @rbhayespres and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @rbhayespres.