teddy roosevelt statue

A statue of Theodore Roosevelt stands on a street corner in Medora, as visitors roam the town Saturday, June 29, 2019.

BISMARCK — The group pushing to build a presidential library to honor Theodore Roosevelt in western North Dakota will see new leadership as it begins a major fundraising effort.

Cathilea Robinett, the California-based chairwoman of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation board, said Wednesday, Aug. 14, they’re preparing to name a new CEO and a development director after Mike Eggl resigned as CEO effective July 31. She said candidates to fill the two roles have been identified, but she declined to name them since they haven’t been approved by the board.

“I’m really excited about both of them, because they will both bring a lot to this effort,” Robinett said.

Eggl didn’t return a message seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Robinett took over as chairwoman about a month ago after the previous board leader, Eric Washburn, stepped down due to what Robinett said were other commitments. Robinett is the president of e.Republic, which oversees several media platforms, including Governing magazine, and has been on the library board for about two years. The leadership changes came a few months after state lawmakers approved a plan to create a $50 million endowment fund held by the state that would generate earnings to operate and maintain the presidential library. The legislation required $100 million in private donations to construct the facility.

Robinett was confident about their fundraising prospects but was unsure how much had been committed so far. A spokesman for Gov. Doug Burgum, who has championed the project, previously said there had been “verbal commitments” for more than half of the $100 million required by lawmakers.

“We’re about to kick off in a big way as soon as we have official people on board,” Robinett said.

Roosevelt, a native of New York, famously said he “never would have been president” if it wasn’t for his experiences ranching and hunting in the Badlands in North Dakota. Today, much of the state’s brand is tied to the country’s 26th president.

Robinett said they’re eyeing three sites for the facility in the area of Medora, a major tourist destination at the doorstep of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. She said the library’s location will be discussed during a mid-September meeting in Medora.

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