Major General James Kessler Named CEO of Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
Triangle, Va. (October 30, 2018) – The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation formally announced retired MajGen James Kessler, USMC, as its new President and CEO. Kessler will replace retired LtGen Robert R. Blackman, Jr., USMC, who will officially step down from the leadership role on December 31, 2018.
The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation has become a venerated institution for the Marine Corps community. Its mission to preserve and promulgate the history, traditions and culture of the Marine Corps has, most notably, included the campaign to build the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Kessler will take command of the Foundation following the completed construction of the Museum’s final phase. As CEO, he will lead the organization as it executes its vision to take the history, traditions and culture of the United States Marine Corps to all Americans and establishes new ways to carry out its mission.
"Throughout his distinguished career on active duty and his remarkable leadership in the private sector, Major General Kessler has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the values our Foundation preserves," said Blackman. "He has led Marines overseas and cared for them here at home. He is eminently qualified and ready to lead the Foundation, and we look forward to having him onboard."
Blackman is retiring from his position after serving nearly eight years as President and CEO. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected Blackman to lead the Foundation just as the organization launched its campaign to build the final phase of the Museum. When he stepped into the role, the Museum did not have the physical space it needed to hold permanent galleries to honor those Marines who served from the end of the Vietnam War through today.
"General Blackman made his permanent mark on Marine Corps history by raising the necessary support and overseeing the massive construction efforts required to enable the Museum to tell the story of every Marine, and to tell it in a way that wasn’t possible before," said Mr. Paul Kalsbeek, Chairman of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Board of Directors. "The Marine Corps and our nation owe a debt of gratitude to Lieutenant General Blackman for his unrelenting commitment to this historic undertaking."
Previously, Kessler served as Assistant Deputy, Commandant for Installations and Logistics (Facilities) and Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations Command before retiring from active duty in 2013. He was commissioned a second lieutenant from the University of Washington, Seattle in June 1980.
Kessler deployed for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm with the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division. In 1993, he was selected to serve as the Aide-de-Camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He returned to Iraq in 2007 for Operation Iraqi Freedom as commander of 2d Marine Logistics Group, II MEF. Kessler went on to serve as Director of the Manpower Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs and later assumed command of Marine Corps Logistics Command.
Following his retirement from active duty, Kessler led DynCorp International's Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program in Afghanistan. In 2015, Logistics Management Institute named him Vice President of its Materiel Management Division with responsibilities over Acquisition and Product Support, Maintenance and Readiness, Supply Chain Management, and Math Modeling.
About the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation Dedicated to the preservation and promulgation of Marine Corps history, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation supports the historical programs of the Marine Corps in ways not possible through government funds. The Foundation provides grants and scholarships for research and the renovation, restoration, and commissioning of historical Marine Corps artifacts and landmarks. Having secured the necessary funding for the complete construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center, located in Triangle, Virginia, the Foundation’s current primary mission is to vigorously seek financial support to expand programs at the National Museum of the Marine Corps and beyond its walls. For more information, visit marineheritage.org.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps will temporarily close beginning on Monday, November 23, 2020. Recent increases in COVID-19 cases, both regionally and nationally, drove the closure decision. The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation office will continue to support and serve donors during this closure. Our team is still booking and hosting private events. Please follow the Museum's social media channels (@usmcmuseum) and check back for updates.
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