Colonial Williamsburg Announces Layoffs, Reorganization is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

The Capitol is among the Colonial Williamsburg sites traditionally closed in January for maintenance. (WYDaily Staff)
The Capitol is among the Colonial Williamsburg sites traditionally closed in January for maintenance. (WYDaily Staff)

While touting an increase in both attendance and revenue in the past year, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Mitchell Reiss announced positions would be eliminated as part of a reorganization in a letter to employees Thursday morning.

The letter outlines Colonial Williamsburg’s plans to refocus on educational initiatives, which will put more emphasis on the Historic Area and its costumed interpreters and other front-line educators, and require the elimination of staff largely “higher up the chain of command” as well as in the Hospitality Division to free up the necessary financial resources for the change.

The reorganization will result in the elimination of about 60 of the approximately 2,560 employees, or about 2.3 percent of its workforce, a CWF spokesperson said.

“It has become clear that, much as we would wish otherwise, we cannot achieve our goals for this organization without making these difficult choices — and the stakes are simply too high not to take action,” Reiss wrote.

Read the Letter CWF President Mitchell Reiss Sent to Employees

The aim is to reconnect the various aspects of education outreach, which have “unintentionally” become divided between educating on-site guests and educating teachers and students, Reiss said, creating “conflicting priorities at times, strained resources and diluted the potential impact” of those programs.

In an effort to better implement its refocus on education, some departments will be reorganized, Reiss wrote.

The Productions, Publications and Learning Ventures Division will be split up and added to two different departments.

The Division of Research and Historical Interpretation will become the Division of Education, Research and Historical Interpretation, adding the duties and responsibilities of the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, which will now be called the Institute for Teacher Professional Development.

“It is our intention to elevate the profile of what we will now call the Institute for Teacher Professional Development while increasing its access to historical resources, research, and expert staff who can support and enhance the program,” Reiss wrote.

The Strategic Communications Division will now be responsible for all of Colonial Williamsburg’s productions and publications to create one multimedia division that Reiss said “will maximize the impact of these teams, greatly enhance their opportunities for collaboration and enable each to prioritize projects and organize their workflows most effectively.”

Colonial Williamsburg’s changes also include the addition of a new leadership position in the Human Resources Division and a new special events department.

Though few details were released about the special events department, the letter announced Sharon Dorsey, a longtime Human Resources employee, will be the inaugural manager of diversity and inclusion.

“As research has long shown, a workforce of diverse perspectives and backgrounds enriches the work of an organization, increases its recruitment power and enables it to better respond to the demands of a changing world,” Reiss wrote. “Yet diversity is an area that has long proved challenging for us. In creating this new position, we are signaling publicly the importance of recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce here and committing the resources needed to ensure that we succeed at doing so.”

The announcement comes during a planned limited programming period for the month of January that is intended to retrain staff, make IT upgrades to the website and admissions system, and spruce up the living history museum for the new Black History Month programs in February.