Monday, December 11, 2023

Colonial Williamsburg CEO to ‘step down’ in October. He received $100K bonuses in 2017 and 2016

Mitchell Reiss (Photo courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)
Mitchell Reiss (Photo courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

Mitchell B. Reiss will “step down” as CEO and president of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in October.

The foundation sent word about the development Tuesday afternoon.

“I have immensely enjoyed my five years as the Foundation’s President and CEO,” Reiss said in a prepared statement. “It’s been a privilege to work every day with such talented and dedicated colleagues, and I am very proud of all that we have accomplished together.”

A search is underway for his successor, who will continue to build on Colonial Williamsburg’s legacy as a world-class historic and cultural institution and on its mission to “feed the human spirit by sharing America’s enduring story”, according to the foundation’s news release.

In an emailed statement, Joseph Straw, CW spokesman, only said Reiss “has decided to step down at the end of his contract term…”

Reiss was hired as Colonial Williamsburg’s CEO and president in 2014 in an effort to get Colonial Williamsburg back in strong financial standing.

Tax documents for Colonial Williamsburg, show amid the changes, Reiss received $100,000 bonuses in 2017 and 2016. A $6,210 raise and the bonus in 2017 brought his total compensation package with benefits up to $817,214.

RELATED STORY: Colonial Williamsburg president saw $100K bonus for second year in a row, recent tax documents show

The foundation had been hemorrhaging money and seeing declining admissions for years. To cover the shortfalls leading up to 2017, the foundation pulled from its endowment.

In 2017, Colonial Williamsburg announced it would outsource retail operations and lay off 71 employees as part of a restructuring. An additional 262 employees were transferred to other employers.

In June 2018, one year after the announcement of restructuring, Reiss said the foundation was in a healthier position — but still needed to pay off “hundreds of millions” of dollars in debt.

Reiss reported last year the foundation was also taking less cash from its endowment to cover costs. In 2014, the foundation took about 12 percent of the endowment, while in 2017 and 2018, the foundation only took about 8 percent.

In 2017, the foundation saw a nearly $900,000 drop in revenue from admissions alone.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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