May 7, 2018 – Executive recruitment firm RSR Partners has placed Christopher Liedel, a former head of a Smithsonian Institution division, as CEO of the new United States Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO. He will start in his new role on May 15.
“Chris Liedel is the perfect combination of experienced leader, entrepreneur and strategic thinker that we need to lead the U.S. Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame forward,” said Dave Ogrean, chairman of the museum board. “He will take us through the construction of the museum and into the opening and operations. We thrilled that Chris has agreed to lead the team and we welcome him to the Colorado Springs community.”
The $75 million U.S. Olympic Museum is set to open in 2019, blocks from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters and a short drive from the Olympic Training Center. Museum officials expect the 60,000-square-foot showcase to eventually draw up to 350,000 a year, with more than half the visitors coming from outside the state, according to the Denver Post. This will be the first full-fledged Olympic museum in the U.S.
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Mr. Liedel served for nearly six years as president of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-producing arm of the Smithsonian Institution. Before that, he was with National Geographic for 16 years, becoming the executive vice president and chief financial officer. At Smithsonian Enterprises, he had oversight of the key commercial activities of the Smithsonian, including Smithsonian Media, retail, E-commerce, educational and consumer-branded products, and food services. During his tenure, the organization saw significant growth in revenue and earnings performance.
Mr. Liedel’s board affiliations have included the Nobel Prize Education Fund; the National Philanthropic Trust, which he chaired from 2005 to 2008; EdWeek Magazine; and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research Foundation. He currently serves on the board of the PGA of America, and previously served on the executive committee of the United States Golf Association, where he was chair of the museum committee.
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“One of the most compelling facets of this iconic destination will be that the experience is constantly evolving,” said Mr. Liedel. “The very nature of the Olympic and Paralympic Games gives us new perspective to share every two years, a new lens with which to view the world,” he said. “I am humbled and honored to be part of this team that will bring to life a special place showcasing the historical scholarship and national pride surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic Games – one that transcends sport and holistically honors Team USA athletes.”
RSR Partners, founded in 1992 by Russell S. Reynolds Jr., is an executive, board and leadership recruiting firm based in Greenwich, Conn, with offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Cleveland and Los Angeles. Mr. Reynolds previously founded Russell Reynolds Associates in New York. RSR offers board advisory, board recruiting, executive search and leadership assessment services.
The firm has worked with U.S. Olympic organizations in the past and just began a search for a new CEO for USA Rugby. Based in Lafayette, CO, USA Rugby is the national governing organization for rugby in America and a full-sport member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and World Rugby. Dan Payne, the rugby group’s current leader, announced last month that he will be stepping down in July, after the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. Two years ago, Korn Ferry conducted the search that resulted in the hiring of Mr. Payne.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media