Five Questions for Dale Archer
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
What is your role with the new National World War I Memorial project?
I serve as the Project Manager for Memorial Development. That means I coordinate the many moving parts of the core Pershing Park Team that oversees the Memorial project as well as the Design Team with support from the Public Affairs and Fundraising Teams. I also manage daily/weekly communication and collaboration of activities for everyone involved, such as WWICC commissioners, staff, volunteers, contractors, and special advisors.
What is the status of the project right now?The WWICC has envisioned the development of the WWI Memorial in three phases through 2019. The first phase from 2015 through 2016 has included the design competition, conceptual design, fundraising for the Memorial, and regulatory agency reviews. We are currently approaching the end of that first phase this fall. The second phase from 2017 through 2018 will include achieving regulatory agency approvals of the final design, contracting a construction management firm to oversee Memorial construction, and then general construction administration including groundbreaking and construction of the Memorial. This second phase commemorates when the U.S. officially entered WWI in 1917. The final phase from 2018 to 2019 will include construction administration with dedication of the Memorial and the transition back to the National Park Service, which owns Pershing Park. I get more excited every day to see this Memorial being developed and constructed during the Centennial. I think that combined focus and process makes it a unique project, which will truly incite a national conversation around WWI.
Have you worked on such a project before?
Yes, the Memorial project is similar to large political campaigns I have managed where you have to build and grow organizations, manage/coordinate staff and volunteers, and balance a wide variety of activities with constant inputs and feedback from stakeholders—all while raising money to support your staff and day-to-day work with lots of people interested and watching you. The comparison of asking for donations to build a plane while you’re flying that plane could apply here.
What is your career background?
My career began in public and legislative affairs and political communication, which evolved into managing large-scale, multi-million dollar international development projects in post-conflict and conflict/failed countries like Kosovo and Somalia. Building and developing organizations, teams, and projects is my passion. I love organization development and to support people collaborating and communicating together effectively toward a common purpose.
Do you have personal connection to World War I?
So far, my father’s family genealogy has been too elusive to confirm WWI connections. I do have some great uncles who served in WWII: one who was on the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered and another who brought home a Nazi uniform medal and compass. I hope to discover any relatives connected to WWI by the time the Centennial ends in 2019!