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Two years later, JFK library still without a permanent director

The interior of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is reflected in a portrait of JFK near the entrance. Lane Turner/Globe staff

The search for a new director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum — two years after the last director resigned — does not seem to be going well.

The position, which oversees and administers activities at the JFK Library, including all archival, exhibit, public, and educational programs, has been without a permanent replacement since 2015, when longtime director Tom Putnam left abruptly amid questions about the leadership style of Heather Campion, the then-newly appointed chief executive of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Campion has since departed — she resigned — but the library director post, which Putnam had held for eight years, remains unfilled. There have been a few interim directors, but it’s strange that such a plum, high-profile job has been seemingly so difficult to fill. (In case you’re wondering, the job pays between $124,406-$172,100.)


Monday, Putnam took it upon himself to rustle up interest in the job.

“My apologies for the impersonal nature of this e-mail which I am sending to you (and others) as a blind copy,” Putnam wrote in the e-mail, which was forwarded to us by a helpful source. “The National Archives has re-posted the director position at the Kennedy Library with a closing deadline of December 15, 2017. Should you know of anyone who might be interested in applying (or who may know others who would be strong applicants) could you kindly forward this e-mail along to them? The position description and directions on how to apply follow my signature.”

Located on Columbia Point in a stunning complex designed by I.M. Pei, the JFK Library and Museum is part of the Presidential Library System, which is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The search for the new director is being overseen by Duke Blackwood, who’s acting director of the Office of Presidential Libraries. (Blackwood is also the director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.)


Morale at the JFK Library has been low since Campion’s stormy tenure, during which Putnam was one of several longtime employees who left. It hasn’t helped that the interim replacements have mostly managed the library from afar. The interim directors have been William Bosanko, chief operating officer of the National Archives and Records Administration, James Roth, deputy director of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and Warren Finch, director of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.