News Release

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Ahmad Ward, Executive Director of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, Awarded the Museum Leadership Award

October 27, 2021

The Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) is proud to announce that it has chosen Ahmad Ward, executive director of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, as the recipient of the 2021 Museum Leadership Award.

Winners of all awards presented this week were chosen from a wide range of nominees from across the Southeastern United States. The SEMC Awards Committee honors outstanding colleagues who have helped shape the world of museums. Initiated in 1994, the museum leadership award recognizes mid-career museum professionals who have shown significant advancement within the profession by leadership in museum activities at his or her institution, within the museum profession, and especially in the southeast region.

"On behalf of the Town of Hilton Head Island, I congratulate Ahmad Ward on this well-deserved honor. He is passionate about the story of Mitchelville and has worked to significantly raise the level of awarness for this part of our history. He has set a strong vision for Mitchelville, and I know he is working hard to help our Island realize it," said Mayor John McCann.

In 2017, Ward took the helm of Hilton Head Island’s Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, which seeks to preserve, promote and honor Historic Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people in the United States. Prior to this position, Mr. Ward spent 15 years leading the Education Department at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama.

According to his nomination letter, "Ahmad stepped into this role and immediately went to work becoming an important leader in the community. Under Ahmad’s leadership, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park has built a social justice education initiative creating space to hear from experts and have diverse community members come together to tackle pressing issues of difference and acceptance. All of this while fundraising from regional and national supporters, running archaeological digs on his site, and drafting a masterplan for a world class interpretive center to be built on this historic site. To say that our community is lucky and proud to have Ahmad Ward leading this initiative is an understatement. All his actions are rooted in doing what is right to preserve the culture, tell the story authentically, and help all of us learn to be better citizens."

Carolyn Grant, Communications Director