Some of you know that Melissa Swindell, Executive Director of the Wren’s Nest from 2017 to 2019, left that post late last year to pursue other opportunities in museum administration. We asked her to reflect on her two years running our nonprofit organization. As we look ahead to a search for a new director, the Wren’s Nest would like to thank Melissa for all her hard work and wish her the very best. Brer Rabbit lovers everywhere should be grateful that she crossed our path.
— Jim Auchmutey, Board Secretary
Dear Friends of the Wren’s Nest:
An old saying from my years as a Girl Scout: “Always leave a place better than you found it.” I have always taken that advice to heart, and after two years with the Wren’s Nest, I believe that I can say I am leaving this place better than I found it. When I arrived in August 2017, the Wren’s Nest had been without a director for almost a year. There was a lot to be accomplished, and I would like to thank my team of dedicated volunteers and staff for their part in this transformation.
With help from Barbara Leach, retired CPA and master of public administration candidate at Georgia State University, we were able to organize mounds of paperwork, reduce operating expenses, and revise fund-raising goals.
Meredith Deeley, our education and communication director, is one of the most creative and yet down-to-earth individuals whom I have had the pleasure to work with. Together we launched the first children’s tour at the Wren’s Nest. We established an escape room, which made for a very well-received presentation at last year’s Southern Museum Conference, and increased our social media presence. Meredith’s innovative ideas, along with board support for new concepts such as the Edgar Allan Poe theater experience, increased visitation by 74 percent in the last two years. I am excited to leave the Wren’s Nest with a new audience of young and enthusiastic individuals who will continue to support the home for years to come.
One of the best decisions I made was to promote Carla Ramcharam from docent to office manager. Each day she proves to be an invaluable part of the Wren’s Nest team. Without her administrative skills, life lessons and positive attitude, our team could not have accomplished so much in such little time. Her role in the organization is thankless, yet she deserves more thanks than anyone I can think of.
Thank you to the board of directors. Support from individual board members brought new donors and new audiences, and strategic connections to the journalism, literary and history communities in Atlanta. A newly formed partnership with West End Neighborhood Development brought us closer to the local community than we had been in years.
And last, but certainly not least, it has been my pleasure to come to know the Harris family. Their dedication, realistic vision, decades of unwavering support and warmth make them the most ideal historic-house descendants any museum director could ever hope to work with. I now also consider them friends.
I will continue to support the Wren’s Nest no matter where life takes me. I believe the controversial legacy of the Uncle Remus stories needs to be shared to encourage respectful dialogue among people today. The historic home is an architecturally significant contribution to the City of Atlanta and should stand as a point of pride for how far our city has progressed over the past 100 years, while continuing to remind us how far we must still go. My hope for the Wren’s Nest is that it not only see another 100 years as a symbol of Atlanta’s rich history, but that new generations learn to embrace the home and make it the rallying ground for inclusion and storytelling that Harris himself would have wanted.
The Wren’s Nest will always be my home away from home. Thank you for two wonderful years.
— Melissa Swindell