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Ritschel named interim CEO of Riverfront Museum

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Debbie Ritschel will be interim CEO of the Peoria Riverfront Museum for the second time, the museum’s board of directors announced Monday.

Ritschel, former general manager of the Peoria Civic Center, served as interim director of the museum from May 2013 until November of that year, when Sam Gappmayer was hired as CEO. Gappmayer announced late in September that he is leaving Peoria  to become executive director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Ritschel will be interim CEO until a new permanent CEO is hired, the board said in a news release.

“I along with my fellow board members am pleased to announce the appointment of Debbie Ritschel as the interim president and CEO of Peoria Riverfront Museum, effective October 15, 2016,” said Sid Ruckriegel, chair of Peoria Riverfront Museum’s board of directors. “We are confident in her uniquely qualified experience as the previous interim director for the museum to carry us through this process.”

Ritschel’s interim appointment is expected to provide the continuity needed to maintain the museum’s robust exhibition and public programming schedule that Gappmayer helped build during his tenure.

“I am pleased to be asked by the chairman of Peoria Riverfront Museum and his board to help as an interim CEO as they search for a successor to outgoing CEO Sam Gappmayer,” said Ritschel. “Sam’s leadership for the last three years has helped guide the museum toward being the outstanding multidisciplinary community resource as was envisioned when it expanded and relocated downtown.”

Prior to serving as the museum’s interim CEO in 2013, Ritschel was general manager of the Peoria Civic Center for 11 years, overseeing all aspects of the busy entertainment, events and conventions facility, which included managing financial and public accountability.

Ritschel currently is president of the Water Street Group and on the executive committees of the boards of Peoria Riverfront Association and Peoria Public Library. She also was Greater Peoria Economic Development Council marketing co-chair and a directors of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.

“My job during the next few months will be to be to build on my previous knowledge of the museum and its talented staff by being the link between board and staff, and lending my managerial skills,” said Ritschel. “My goal is to help the staff continue the activities to achieve their goals of top quality community focused programs and work as directed by the board to keep the momentum toward a sustainable future.”

The museum board said the process to find Gappmayer’s replacement is expected to take six months. 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).