Name: Rebecca Lazure

Age: 37

Title: Executive director

Company: First Amendment Museum

About: A museum that fosters an understanding of the five freedoms of the First Amendment in a space that brings the human scale of a home and personal perspective to the experience of practicing the First Amendment.


What’s your biggest challenge right now?

As a leader of a startup, I am encountering challenges on all fronts. I think the biggest challenge is getting up to speed on all the departments which will need to form.

Having worked in museums before and having subject matter familiarity (as a reporter), learning the ropes as an administrator and the role I play in fundraising is a new challenge for me. It’s the same with board development and working with a board of directors, which I have learned about in the last two years.

What’s the best advice anyone has given you?

I have been really lucky to have some mentors in the fields and people I have been able to turn to. One of those people started the Museum of Durham History, Katie Spencer. She said to me that when you are starting a new nonprofit, you need to figure out how organized you need to be and be just organized enough — don’t try to do it all at once.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

In the museum field, we are individuals that are always creative thinkers. There is a constant drive to do things differently and to make our work feel relevant and not stuck in the past. It’s sort of a natural place to be thinking about how can we be creative all the time. I would say by making connections and talking to people in all different areas. The subject matter of the museum intersects with all facets of life. We’re talking to artists, reporters and lawyers. That necessitates creativity.

What’s your biggest fear?

Naturally, the fear is always: Will this take off?

We feel really confident in our vision and what we’re trying to do here. In approaching the First Amendment from a personal space, we’re taking it from the academic realm and bringing it to everyday life.

We need to build an institution that’s sustainable here in Maine and for a national audience.

You want to get a startup going and not take too long, but how does that get done in the short term and make it sustainable for the long term?

Where will your organization be in five years?

Obviously, we have been doing quite a bit of strategic planning. We started developing those plans even before we owned the house. For now, I see a beautiful face here in Augusta that’s open to the public as a home that fosters dialog about the First Amendment, and a program that has grown and reached a handful of states around the country with a deep impact in educational programming around this First Amendment approach that’s driven by personal experience.

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