With the planning transition already in the works behind the scenes, board officials have selected the museum’s director of education, Sarah Schaefer, to succeed DeMersman as the next permanent executive director.
“I am pleased with the progress that we have made as a team of board, staff, city staff, volunteers and community,” DeMersman said in a statement. “We were able to build a new vision on a solid foundation built by the original founders of the organization to make this a place where the entire community can feel welcome.”
DeMersman assisted in the renovation of the downtown museum’s permanent history gallery, combining state-of-the-art digital technology with traditional objects and graphics to tell a more complete, accessible and inclusive history of Pleasanton.
Additionally, Museum on Main membership and annual visitation has grown under his tenure, assisted by the museum’s award-winning Ed Kinney “An Afternoon/Evening With…” flagship program and a more robust temporary exhibit program, which has brought traveling exhibits on topics relevant to the life and history of Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley, officials said.
“I will greatly miss the Pleasanton community and all of the people who have helped us achieve this vision,” DeMersman said.
“In retirement, my husband and I will be returning to Palm Springs, which was our first home together,” he added. “I am looking forward to going exploring and hiking in the Indian canyons that will be close to our new home, volunteering for the local historical society, the new Aqua Caliente Museum in downtown Palm Springs and the Living Desert in Palm Desert. We also anticipate spending more time traveling in Europe.”
The Museum on Main’s Board of Directors Succession Planning Committee recommended Schaefer as its first-choice candidate in February, and the full board appointed her to become the new executive director effective in November.
“While we thought about opening up the search, the committee and executive team felt that with such a qualified candidate in-house, it would best serve the needs of the museum to move forward with Sarah as our new director,” Board President Linda Garbarino said in a statement.
“She is eminently qualified, knows the Pleasanton community and shares Jim’s passion for teamwork and making sure that Pleasanton has a first-rate museum to be proud of,” Garbarino said. “Sarah will be working closely with Jim over the next few months to learn more of the intricacies of the day-to-day management.”
In her new leadership role, Schaefer said she is “looking forward to continuing the work Jim has set out: to make the Museum on Main a true community museum, a place where those who have been in our community have their whole lives, those who have just arrived, and everyone in between feels welcome and important to Pleasanton’s ongoing story.”
“We have accomplished so much under Jim’s leadership, using the museum’s most strategic plan as our guide,” she told the Weekly. “We have completely overhauled our main exhibit space, increased visitation, and created programs and exhibits that inspire our community to connect with us and each other.”