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Fresh Face

New Lanier Mansion director
Williams has found ‘dream job’

Former marketing manager started
her new role on July 9

(August 2018) – Most individuals have an idea of what would be their “dream job.” Sometimes individuals don’t know how or where to start in looking for that dream job. Many individuals never find it. Catherine Williams has found her “dream job” in Madison, Ind.
Williams moved to Madison recently from her hometown of San Antonio, following her parents who relocated two years ago to the family farm in nearby Rykers Ridge. She started her job hunt in a broad circle, searching the Midwest. In her free time, she walked along the riverfront, and like other visitors, she was fascinated by the Lanier Mansion.

Photo by Sharyn Whitman

Catherine Williams moved from San Antonio, but she has local roots in Madison, Ind., where she now lives.

She has always loved history and historic houses. When her mom reminded her to look at jobs in Madison, she researched the Lanier Mansion to see if any positions were available.  
Williams found the Lanier Mansion Historic Site Manager position posted on the Indiana State Museum website. Williams sent in her resume and was immediately contacted for an interview the following week. Her background was just what was needed, and the opportunity was just what Williams wanted in a new job.
She started her new role as the Site Manager at the Lanier Mansion on July 9.  Williams brings expertise in marketing, sales, social media and advertising strategies from her previous roles in marketing, sales management and account coordination. Even more significant is her immediate connection to Madison and the surrounding communities.
Williams remembers visiting their extended family in Madison each Christmas. She remembers visiting Madison every summer. She is the seventh generation of her family to live in Madison. Her great-great grandfather was the first truck farmer in Madison. Her mom’s family names include Kessler, Schafer and Gilles.
In spite of growing up in San Antonio, Williams describes Madison as “home.” She says she is happy to be here. She has already purchased a house on Main Street and loves walking to work.
The Lanier Mansion is recognized as “the crown jewel” of Madison’s 144-block National Historic District. James Franklin Doughty Lanier was a prominent Madison pioneer whose success in banking and the railroads made it possible for him to hire architect Francis Costigan.
Lanier directed Costigan to design and build the most prestigious residence in Madison. It was completed in 1844. Lanier lived there for seven years before moving to New York City.
The house was owned and occupied by other family members until Charles Lanier, the youngest son of the original owner, donated the property to the Jefferson County Historical Society in 1917. In 1925, it was given to the state and opened publically as a museum. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1994. Daily tours and other events are open to the public, including the “Music at the Mansion” free summer concert series each month through September. The facility is also available for weddings and other private events. 
The mission of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites management is to “celebrate, explore and steward all that is authentically wondrous about Indiana.” Jessica Stavros, the Southeast Regional Director, said she was delighted to interview and hire Williams, who can live out that mission in Madison. Describing Williams, Stavros said, “She believes in the city of Madison and is really excited to propel the city forward.”
Williams brings an attitude of “how can we serve you.” She is open to collaborative relationships and partnerships with other community groups. She will be actively involved in many community organizations.
The Lanier Mansion is more than a location or historic building. It is a place where community members can enjoy new experiences, with an historical perspective. It is more than teaching about the past; it is learning together about the future. As Williams becomes involved in the community, she said she hopes to bring a fresh look at all of the current programs available at the mansion. That fresh look means she is open to new ideas, and Madison always welcomes new ideas to energize the community.

Williams is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She is also a military veteran, having served in the U.S. Army Reserves for more than five years as a psychological operations specialist. Her office is located in the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, just across Vine Street from the Lanier Mansion. She can be reached at via email at: CWilliams5@indianamuseum.org.

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