The Williamson Museum announced the resignation of Executive Director, Mickie Ross last month. Ross served the museum in a variety of roles since 2000, from board member to volunteer and staff member.
“I am very proud of the work the museum has done to play such an important role in the community,” Ross stated. “Last year was amazingly successful and I look forward to the plans the museum has for the future. It has been an honor to serve the community in this way.”
Thanks, in large part, to Ross’ efforts, the Williamson Museum is as much a Georgetown visitors’ attraction as it is a repository of our county history and an opportunity for lovers of history to be a part of it all.
Ross is a sixth generation Texan. She became a member of the museum board in 2000 as it was being renovated and opened to the public. As a teacher she enjoyed teaching Texas history—1830 to the present—and found herself drawn to finding connections to Williamson County wherever she looked. She realized if she could hook kids and visitors with the stories that always come back to Williamson County, they would want to be more involved.
In 2005, the museum did not have much in the way of staff and she had at least a little museum experience, so she asked, “What can I do to help?” The answer was, apparently, alot.
While continuing to work at her teaching job, she began writing grants, answering public inquiries about events, and managing the museum’s budding education programs. The timing coincided with the re-opening and tours of the old courthouse in the City Square, so she began bringing students on field trips to see it in person, followed by more education development. In November 2007 the museum created a full-time education position and Ross was hired for the job. As an executive employee, she continued development of the new programs because the Board realized education would bring visibility to the museum itself. They were right.
“This job was never specifically part of my plan,” she says, “but I always dreamed of telling the stories, and I’m so pleased I was able to help guide and promote the rich history of Williamson County.”
Ross and her staff worked diligently to create and prepare something new on a regular basis for all ages and interests. From 2007 to 2013, student participation increased from 300 per year to 10,000; totaling about 60,000 students. In 2013 alone there were over 15,000 visitors to the museum, bringing the decade’s total to about 100,000. The museum has developed 20 exhibits, and collected over 10,000 artifacts, and a lot of support from the Board for the work being done.
In 2014 she was chosen to be the Advocate’s first Citizen of the Year. She was chosen not only for her dedication to the citizens of Williamson County but also the depth and breadth of experiences she created via her work at the museum and its many community events.
In 2019, the museum covered the founding of Williamson County to World War II, as well as traveling exhibits; KKK Trials, Swedish immigration in Texas, and more.
Without an Indiana Jones-esque warehouse in the basement, museum staff have made good use of official records and databases, historical books, loans from other museums, and stories they can identify from people with whom they come in contact, intentionally or otherwise.
It appears, however, to have been a labor of love. “Every staff person here now started as volunteer or intern,” Ross says. “They got involved and as positions came open they were the perfect fit.
“Being Executive Director and even citizen of the year was a tremendous honor, but I’ve always tried to do what I do because it’s right for the community and it is right for where we are right now. It is amazing to be recognized for what you do and what you love. Initially I took a pay cut and a leap of faith to take this job and I’m still not rich, but this is about is the most I can give back to the community. I loved coming to work and hear kids say, ‘how cool is this?’”.
Put simply, Mickie Ross has a lot of vision and she doesn’t like the word No, and Williamson County and its history are all the richer for it.