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Medal of Honor Museum Foundation chair takes on CEO role

Staff //February 20, 2018//

Medal of Honor Museum Foundation chair takes on CEO role

Staff //February 20, 2018//

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The Mount Pleasant Planning Commission rejected the design for the Medal of Honor Museum in January over concerns about the height. Board Chairman and CEO Bill Phillips says he is sure the foundation will eventually receive approval. (Photo/File)

Bill Phillips, chairman of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation’s board of directors, has taken over as CEO of the foundation.

Phillips has been CEO since Jan. 1, taking over for Mark Updegrove, who resigned unexpectedly at the beginning of December after learning he had early stage prostate cancer. Phillips said he will remain chairman of the board.

“When Mark Updegrove unexpectedly had to leave us, our board approached me and asked if I would consider doing this, and it was a very easy decision,” Phillips said. “So like it or not, here I am full-time.”

Phillips, a former financial adviser with Morgan Stanley, added that he recently moved to Mount Pleasant from California, which he said is so he can be more hands-on in fundraising and building local partnerships.

“As I look at it, we basically have three main initiatives that we’re working on,” he said. “Obviously one is the development side, raising the funds to build this iconic monument. Secondly is to keep moving along with the design and the whole construction process. And the last one, which is a fairly new one … is working with the town of Mount Pleasant on the partnership that we’re trying to build in order to get this thing approved.”

The town’s Planning Commission rejected the museum design last month, mainly because the proposed height is 78 feet over the height limit for new buildings in Mount Pleasant. Phillips said he’s sure the foundation can eventually receive approval.

“We’re disappointed, but we’re not deterred,” he said.

Phillips said he’s working with the Town Council to set up a public information meeting in March.

“I think we did a poor job of explaining to the town … and I take this to heart,” Phillips said. “We really want to be a partner to Mount Pleasant and the greater Charleston area.”


Phillips said the foundation has $19 million committed, with $9 million of that in the bank. He said he’s not sure what the exact fundraising goal will be, because the Lowcountry’s expansion has increased demand for construction materials and labor, but he estimated the foundation would need to raise between $120 million and $130 million, slightly more than he estimated last year.

Phillips said he’s embarking in March on a three-week fundraising tour of the country, visiting seven cities and 20 major corporations with foundations.

The foundation is also working on a schematic design review of architect Moshe Safdie’s design for the museum. Phillips said that after that is completed, several national contractors have volunteered to perform a cost analysis of the project pro bono, after which a firm fundraising goal can be set.