The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites announced Thursday that Tom King plans to retire as president and CEO effective April 30 after more than six years at the helm.
Cathy Ferree, vice president and chief operating officer of Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, was unanimously elected by the museum’s board to succeed King.
Former Gov. Mitch Daniels recruited King, a former president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, out of semi-retirement in January 2010 to lead a turnaround at the museum. Barry Dressel, the museum's fifth CEO since 2000, resigned abruptly in October 2009.
“When Governor Daniels asked me to come on board, I intended to stay for about a year,” King said in a written statement. “But then I fell in love with the place. Now, seven years later, I’m so pleased with the progress we have made.”
The museum said King was instrumental in bringing blockbuster exhibitions like “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” and “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” to the Indiana State Museum.
He also spearheaded the on-going INVision capital campaign, which is funding gallery renovations at the museum as well as projects at the statewide historic sites.
Shortly after he came aboard, King pushed for a new, quasi-governmental structure as a way to address high turnover in the CEO's office and a lack of fundraising,
Ferree has more than 30 years of experience in the museum business. She’s been Conner Prairie’s COO since 2011 and spent more than three years as senior director before that.
Prior to working at Conner Prairie, she was associate vice president of exhibits at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. She also served as a founding member of the staff for The Children’s Museum of Atlanta.
“I’m delighted to join the team at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, especially at such an exciting time in the system’s history,” Ferree said in written comments. “It has been a cornerstone cultural institution in this state for almost 150 years and Indiana has benefited from its dedicated stewardship of our past and commitment to our future.”
King retired as president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation in March 2005 and started his own consulting firm, focused on philanthropy, economic development and marketing. He's also former president of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; former president of Walker Research; former vice president of corporate affairs for IPALCO Enterprises Inc.; and past chairman of the board of directors of Goodwill Enterprises of Central Indiana Inc. and of Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis.
He also served board chairman of The Indy Partnership and chairman-elect of the board of the Indiana Sports Corp.