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Former Aldevron executive among new Roosevelt library board members

The library foundation announced on Thursday, Jan. 28, that former pharmaceutical executive Victoria Chambers, nonprofit boss Eric Jolly and retired law firm partner Vaughn Williams have joined the 12-member board of trustees.

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The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation added Eric Jolly (left), Victoria Chambers and Vaughn Williams to its board of trustees on Thursday, Jan. 28. Photos provided
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BISMARCK — The group behind the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library has added three notable board members as the project planned for Medora picks up steam.

The library foundation announced on Thursday, Jan. 28, that former pharmaceutical executive Victoria Chambers, nonprofit boss Eric Jolly and retired law firm partner Vaughn Williams have been approved to join the 12-member board of trustees. The board already includes Melani Walton, the wife of billionaire Walmart heir Rob Walton, as well as two members of the Roosevelt family.

Chambers served as the marketing director of Fargo-based biotech giant Aldevron until last year. She and her husband, Aldevron executive chairman Michael Chambers, have donated more than $1 million to the library foundation. Victoria Chambers said she hopes visitors to the library will have the kind of "joyful and life-enriching experience" Roosevelt had while exploring the natural world.

Jolly is the president and CEO of the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation, a philanthropic group based in the Twin Cities, and once served as the president of the Science Museum of Minnesota. Jolly, who is of Cherokee heritage, is a former board member of the National Museum of the American Indian and has an extensive academic background.

Library foundation CEO Ed O'Keefe said Jolly "will bring valuable experience in museum management, philanthropy, and leadership, including the necessary and important conversation with the Native American community.”

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Williams recently completed a ten-year term as a Stanford University trustee and is a former partner with New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He also served in various leadership roles with hospitals and performing arts institutions. Williams helped launch a fellowship program for young legal scholars, which the foundation hopes will provide "a road map" for starting its own scholars program.

The library foundation announced in October it reached a goal of raising $100 million in private donations, unlocking a public endowment from the state of North Dakota. Last summer, the foundation selected Norwegian-American architecture firm Snøhetta to design the high-profile project in the western part of the state, and Congress recently paved the way for the group to buy land from the U.S. Forest Service on which to build the library.

O'Keefe said the foundation hopes to have the library open to the public by 2025.

As the name suggests, the proposed library is meant to honor and recount the complex story of Theodore Roosevelt, the one-time governor of New York who became the 26th president of the United States. As a young man, Roosevelt spent parts of three years hunting and ranching in the North Dakota Badlands before his career in national politics.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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