New HHH director ready to leadPublished 11:21am Monday, October 22, 2012
There’s a new leader at the Hormel Historic Home, and like her predecessor, she will in many ways be the face of that organization.
Holly Johnson, of Austin, started as the new HHH executive director Wednesday.
“I think it’s a good fit,” Johnson said, who has worked in food and hospitality throughout her life, including banquet management at the Austin Country Club, and has a degree in hotel, restaurant, institutional and tourism management from Purdue University.
Johnson will take over for Laura Helle, who was executive director for the past six years. Johnson, who has been transitioning into the role with Helle’s help, will start full time on Monday. She worked at Hormel Foods Corp. in food services.
Helle will officially step down on Tuesday to lead Austin’s Vision 2020 effort.
While the HHH Board of Trustees hired Johnson from a pool of more than 50 applicants from around the U.S., Helle also reviewed the applicants and liked what she saw in Johnson. Helle noted Johnson’s expertise in hospitality, ability to network, volunteer efforts and more than anything, her personality.
“I would say the biggest thing that stood out about Holly was her personality,” Helle said. “And a lot of the committee commented on that.”
Johnson — who has lived for a total of 7.5 years in Austin and has a husband and children — looks forward to being a community leader and working with other local leaders.
“Anything we can do to promote Austin in a positive way and doing it together, I think that’s a great thing,” Johnson said.
One of Johnson’s first, significant, hands-on tasks will be Home for the Holidays on Nov. 9, 10 and 11, in which the HHH will be decorated. Not long after that, she will be involved with a piano competition. Furthermore, she said she understands the scope of her employment, which goes beyond the walls of the Home.
“I’m very positive, very excited about what is ahead,” she said. “Writing for the paper … delving into historical things, looking for new ways to bring people into the Home.”
While some will miss seeing Helle around HHH, she will still be very actively involved in the community as the Vision 2020 director. She has a positive outlook, and is happy for Johnson, as well.
“I’m really excited,” Helle said. “Any time there is a leadership change in any organization, it the start of a new chapter, and I think Holly is going to do a brilliant job.”