MHV Executive Director announces resignation

Shannon Dueck, SteinbachOnline, April 17, 2024

The Executive Director for Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach has announced his resignation. 

“It’s with a sad heart that I’m resigning from the Mennonite Heritage Village, where I’ve been just over five years now,” says Gary Dyck, who says he is resigning on April 19th on his own accord. 

In October 2018, it was announced that Dyck would become the museum’s next Executive Director. Dyck says it was not long after taking over, that the pandemic struck. Though the pandemic threw a curveball, Dyck says it was a learning experience, requiring him to pour himself into the museum and learn more about its history. 

“I’ve just loved that,” he says. 

Dyck adds he has enjoyed diving into the museum world, meeting other museum leaders, and trying to figure out what the next few years should look like for Mennonite Heritage Village. He notes his job also had him work on some of the more social initiatives for the museum and he says it was exciting to be part of that transformation. 

Dyck says for the most part, he is pleased with where he was able to take the museum in the five years he was at the helm. This included building relationships by connecting with neighbours, other cultures, and especially the Indigenous community. But it also included wellness initiatives on the museum grounds such as improvements to green spaces and the pond. Dyck says he also appreciated the thousands of passes they were able to give to low-income families and non-profits.

And finally, Dyck says a big highlight over the last five years was the people, including staff, volunteers, and visitors. 

While serving as Executive Director, Dyck says they were able to complete a number of restoration projects at the museum.

“I inherited a big list and I think we’ve actually been getting ahead in the last couple of years and so that’s been exciting to see,” he adds. 

Dyck says he feels it is important that the next Executive Director carries on the momentum that has been building in recent years. He notes that does not necessarily mean that more and more needs to be done. Rather, he says it is important to keep going with what has been started. 

“One challenge of course that always seems to be there at MHV is finances, and keeping those books balanced,” adds Dyck. “I know it’s going to be a challenge for the next person, and I hope the board and staff can really work well at supporting the tough financial decisions that need to be made.”

Earlier this year, Dyck noted that the museum ended 2023 with a deficit of $270,000. Dyck says it is very common for museums in Canada to lose money. In fact, he says over the last decade, MHV has only had three years where it did not lose money. 

“That definitely was something I was working at and this year it kind of fell apart a bit,” he admits. “But there were definitely some good plans I felt coming forward to get to that point in the near future. I was sad that there was a difference there in vision.”

He admits there was a difference in vision and approach between him and the museum’s board of directors. 

Dyck guesses that the board will be looking for a new Executive Director with financial abilities, astuteness, and drive. 

Meanwhile, Dyck says he is not sure what the next chapter of his life will look like. He admits that he is excited for a quieter summer with family, noting the museum is a busy place during the warm months. 

“I have a driven care for the community and building into my community,” he says. “So, whether that’s municipal work or another non-profit or business of some sort that’s a community builder I don’t know yet. But I look forward to what may be next.”

Meanwhile, MHV President Willie Peters says though there have been ups and downs the last five years, the board has been very impressed by the leadership of Dyck. 

“We’ve been very happy with it,” says Peters. “He had some very nice projects; his heart was with the Mennonite history at the museum and he guided us through the pandemic.”

Peters too says that Dyck is leaving on his own accord and says he did a lot of good things at the museum, has a lot of knowledge, and will be well received wherever he works next. 

According to Peters, the museum’s board may decide to put an interim leader in place. He notes replacing Dyck will not be an easy task.

“We’re willing to wait,” he says. “And we think we have good leadership in-house, within our staff, with our managers.”

Peters notes their next Executive Director will need to be well versed in public relations, versatile, a good fundraiser and a programmer.