The Evolution of the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation
When I was contacted to post an article on Donna’s blog, I was happy to have that opportunity. I’m equally excited about the subject because it’s a story I’ve always loved telling. It’s been quite a while since I have thought about how the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Foundation came about, but in doing so, it certainly has brought back great memories.
When Mike and I walked into the Governor’s Mansion, it was with a heavy heart that I beheld this beautiful, stately building so lacking in the grandeur of what my perception of a Governor’s Mansion should reflect and represent. I asked Mike, “Can you afford to redo this place?” The Governor laughed and said, “No, I can’t, and neither can the state of Louisiana. I agree the work is necessary and I agree it needs a lot of work, but we don’t have the money in the state budget. You’ll have to find it yourself.”
Hence the creation of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion Foundation. I began soliciting ideas and concepts of what it would take to complete this incredible transformation. I proceeded to form an Executive Board of people who would set policy and watch over the financial aspect of the Foundation. The newly formed Foundation assured the Mansion was decorated appropriately for a state home and kept up in the future. I also created a Board of Trustees from throughout Louisiana to handle our fundraising efforts. An Administrative Assistant was hired to conduct the day to day business of the Foundation. Next, I was fortunate enough to secure designers from all areas of the state. This incredibly talented group volunteered their services to help us return the Mansion to its original splendor.
I am, and forever will be, appreciative of the response, concern, and support I received from the citizens of Louisiana all those years ago when called upon to assist in the renovation of the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion. What began as a very challenging and overwhelming project in my eyes turned into one of which I am most proud to have started. There are no words to thank the hundreds of people who generously donated their time, talent, and funding to accomplish the magnificent transformation we witnessed at the Mansion during Mike’s term in office.
Those years were a culmination of hard work, determination, frustration, excitement, disappointment, and productivity. It taught me that with the guidance of a few and the strength of many, the seemingly impossible could become a reality.
Once again, eight years later, I felt that “heavy heart” feeling when it was time to leave the Mansion and the people who had become an extended family. I departed, however, with a fantastic sense of satisfaction about the work we had accomplished. My hopes were high that the new people in the Mansion would continue to preserve that beautiful building for what it is, The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion, home of the people.
About four years ago, a new First Lady, Donna Edwards, contacted me to meet with her and a group of ladies to discuss the future of the Governor’s Mansion Preservation Foundation. I am honored that Donna wanted to hear of our journey with the Foundation. She has done an excellent job, also with the help of many, to create the new Foundation. It is my hope it will continue to flourish for many administrations to come.
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