The executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in California is retiring at the end of the year, 12 years after he began in 2009.
John Heubusch, the museum and library's executive director, was working as chief of staff to Rep. Denny Smith from 1981-88 during Reagan's time in office. When Nancy Reagan offered him the position at the library, he accepted, believing he could tell the former president's history to others, he said. Describing the Reagan library as "the right combination of education and entertainment," Heubusch said the location helps visitors learn about the former president with an experience that many of them do not expect.
"No matter when you come here, you're just bowled over by the experience," Heubusch said. "It's above and beyond what people expect from a presidential library, and that's what makes it great."
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Upon entering the library, visitors are greeted by a 3D holograph of Reagan. The library also features Reagan's Air Force One, as well as the ability to "appear" in a movie starring the former president. The institute has also hosted two Republican presidential debates, the first in 2011 and the second in 2015.
When Heubusch became the institute's director, it carried only $50 million in endowments. Now, as he prepares to retire from his role, the institute has over $250 million in endowments, an accomplishment Heubusch said he is exceptionally proud of.
Heubusch said his favorite part of serving as executive director was meeting the hundreds of famous personalities who visit the museum to deliver speeches. These include former presidents, cable talk show hosts, and authors.
With his retirement arriving at the end of the year, Heubusch said he does not intend to look for any other employment. As the author of two books, The Shroud Conspiracy and The Second Coming, he plans to write another book and spend time with his wife and children. In the future, Heubusch said he might endorse a presidential candidate, something he said he has had to stay away from as executive director.
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The institute has not yet chosen its next executive director to take Heubusch's place. The board of trustees is searching for a replacement.