John H. Taylor, President Nixon’s former chief of staff and executive director of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation since 1990, is leaving his Foundation position on Feb. 15 to accept the call of the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles, J. Jon Bruno, to serve full time as vicar, or priest in charge, of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Taylor announced his resignation on Jan. 5 to a group of Foundation Board members and followed up on Jan. 20 with a letter of resignation to Foundation board chairman Kris Elftmann. Taylor wrote that it was an honor and pleasure beyond description to work with members of the Nixon family, the Foundation board, the Library’s volunteer Docents, and staff. “Above all,” Taylor said, “we have been dedicated to the legacy of a President who made the world safer for billions of people through his far-reaching , course-changing policies abroad and set the tone for pragmatic, big-tent policy leadership at home.”
“John Taylor played a critical role in building what is arguably the most beautiful and vibrant campus in the Presidential Library system,” said Kris Elftmann, chairman of the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation. “The Foundation thanks him for his longtime dedication to President Nixon, to the President’s library and to the President’s legacy. We will sorely miss John’s creativity and vision, his extraordinary communication skills, and his tireless energy. And we wish him great success as he begins the next chapter in his life.”
The Foundation’s Board of Directors met yesterday and named Kathy O’Connor as acting executive director. O’Connor, former chief-of-staff to President Nixon, has been assistant executive director since moving to California in 1995, a year after President Nixon’s death. A board committee was formed to undertake a national search for a permanent executive director.
Taylor, ordained an Episcopal priest in January 2004, has served as vicar of St. John’s since October 2004 but on a part-time basis. He decided to begin full-time ministry after an assisting priest at St. John’s, also working half-time, announced her resignation at the end of December.
Taylor’s letter follows:
January 20, 2009
Mr. Kris Elftmann
Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace Foundation
18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard
Yorba Linda, California 92886
As you know, since October 2004, in addition to my duties at the Nixon Foundation, I have also served as vicar of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and School in Rancho Santa Margarita. As a fellow priest’s four-year ministry at St. John’s came to an end in December, Bishop Bruno asked me to give serious consideration to beginning full-time ministry at St. John’s. Accordingly, as I told you, Gov. Wilson, John Barr, and Don Bendetti at our lunch on January 5, I’ve decided to step down as executive director of our Foundation effective on February 15.
I have loved my work at the Library and Foundation, and if there were a practical way to keep doing both jobs, I assure you that I would. Having begun working for the former President in 1979, this has been a life’s work and no doubt will continue to be, if in other forums (ecclesiastical and otherwise!).
Among our greatest blessings in serving the 37th President and his legacy of peace has been our tradition of great volunteer leadership. After the Library’s opening in 1990, under Bill Simon, our founding president, the private Nixon Library gained a reputation as a lively performing arts center for public affairs because of its high-profile special exhibitions and programs. It was President Nixon himself, just a few months before his death, who announced the creation of the Nixon Center, the first nonpartisan foreign policy think tank ever established by a Presidential foundation, now in its 15th year. It and its journal, “The National Interest,” are widely noted for their impact on vital policy debates.
Beginning in 1997, chairman George Argyros provided energetic leadership after we had successfully reorganized the Nixon Foundation under a professionalized, fiduciary Board of Directors.
His successor, Don Bendetti, was our leader as we opened the Katherine B. Loker Center and White House East Room in September 2004 and began the complex process of establishing the Nixon Library as part of the federal system of Presidential libraries. Don and former Archivist Allen Weinstein formalized that handover in 2007. Library Director Timothy Naftali and our federal colleagues are overseeing construction of the Archives Addition, which will house the records of the Nixon White House and finally make the Nixon Library complete.
The Foundation now looks forward to celebrations of the centenaries of Mrs. Nixon and President Nixon’s births in 2012 and 2013.
Working with members of the Nixon family; our volunteer colleagues on the Board; RN’s former chief of staff Kathy, Sandy, Cheryl, and the whole Foundation staff; and our peerless volunteer Docents over the years has been an honor and blessing beyond description. I know you appreciate their dedication and skill as well. We all share in a sense of pride for having helped guide the Nixon Library from a privately envisioned abstraction to a publicly held reality, destined to be a leading center for Cold War research and study as well as guidance for 21st century policy makers through the ongoing partnership among our Foundation, the Presidential library, and the Nixon Center. Above all, we have been dedicated to the legacy of a President who made the world safer for billions of people through his far-reaching, course-changing policies abroad and set the tone for pragmatic, big-tent policy leadership at home.
Please don’t hesitate to call on me if I can assist the Foundation in its good work in the months and years ahead.
(The Rev. Cn.) John H. Taylor