Melani Walton Elected to Board of Trustees, Joins Effort to Build Presidential Library

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation has elected Melani Walton to its Board of Trustees. Walton, a well-respected and dedicated philanthropist, is an alumna of Dickinson State University (DSU), where she was an academic and athletic All-American and remains an emeritus member of the DSU Foundation Board.

Melani Walton

“The TRPLF Board of Trustees has been working diligently to make the dream of a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum a reality,” said Board Chair Bruce Pitts. “Melani’s leadership, vision, hands-on work ethic and deep commitment to this effort will propel us closer to making that dream a reality.”

Walton added, “I am honored to join this board and to be part of giving voice and place to President Roosevelt’s legacy. We have the opportunity to help others appreciate and experience the raw magic of these lands, not only as a destination but as a way of life. Growing up with the Badlands as part of our family heritage, I had the chance to learn about TR’s life and know others will benefit from his history.”

Walton’s commitment to the region is grounded in her own family’s history in the western North Dakota area, which dates back more than three generations. Walton also shares Theodore Roosevelt’s passion for conservation, sustainability, exploration and leadership.

“We are deeply grateful for Melani’s dedication to honoring Theodore Roosevelt with a presidential library and museum worthy of his incredible life and legacy,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. “Her strong educational and family ties to Dickinson and the region, her national perspective and her passion for philanthropy will help provide the momentum we need to realize the potential of this important project.”

Walton added, “Theodore Roosevelt understood the deep importance of nature and sustainability of lands and developed our nation's park system for the health of humanity and future generations. He was a visionary who left a lasting impact.”

She and her husband Rob are instrumental in supporting the African Parks Foundation, which has re-established and invigorated parks throughout Africa. More broadly, they have made substantial contributions of their time to Conservation International, participating extensively in its field operations globally. They also created the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative at Arizona State University, whose sustainability programs have reached millions of children and adults. Other Walton philanthropic leadership focuses on research and innovation in the areas of education, arts and humanities, brain health, consciousness studies, and well-being.

Melani Walton has served on a number of boards, including The Nature Conservancy, the Arizona Science Center, The Learning Committee, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Advisory Board, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and the Arizona Women’s Board. She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Women.

Foundation Refocuses Efforts on World-Class Library at National Park and State-of-the-Art Digital Platform

The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF) Board of Trustees today reversed an earlier decision to construct a new facility at Dickinson State University. Instead, it voted to focus on the creation of a world-class presidential library to be built at Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota.

During the Foundation’s March meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to construct two new facilities – one in Dickinson that would house the expanded digitization of Theodore Roosevelt’s papers; and a presidential library in Medora, North Dakota. Since then, the Board has explored new options that will allow the Foundation to more efficiently achieve its goal in reaching an international audience.

“North Dakota is being presented with a historic opportunity to be supported nationally as the location for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum,” said Governor Doug Burgum. “This opportunity is centered around the presence of Theodore Roosevelt National Park within our state’s borders – a park which holds the special designation of being the only national park to be named after a person. New information and exciting new collaboration opportunities are emerging from national partners such as the National Park Foundation and National Park Service, as well as national and local donors.

One of the key anchors that has helped attract this national attention is the work that has  occurred with the support of state appropriations to the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University to digitize to date more than 50,000 Theodore Roosevelt documents and items. Today’s vote is a meaningful step toward enhancing those digitization efforts and building a presidential library worthy of the tremendous life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.”

Bruce Pitts, chair of the Board of Trustees added, “In March, the Board made the best decision it could – and perhaps the only decision it could – based on the information we had at that time. However, it became hard to justify building a brand-new facility at Dickinson State University. The Board wants to be good stewards of Foundation funding, and refocusing on our efforts at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as well as advances in digital technology, will allow us to do that.”

There is a great deal of excitement about continuing the effort at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Board member Marjorie Currey welcomed the change. Currey believes that focusing on the national park, along with funding toward accelerating digitization of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential papers, will enhance the experience for scholars and the general public, ultimately leading to a much broader understanding of Theodore Roosevelt’s role in shaping American life and public policy.

Other board members agreed that focusing on the national park and enhancing digitization efforts makes good sense.

“Theodore Roosevelt National Park exemplifies the landscape that changed Theodore Roosevelt’s life. It will be a great site for the library and museum,” said Board member Niles Hushka. “The site can serve as a great base for telling the story of his life to the rest of the world. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most prolific and dynamic characters in our nation’s history. We will have plenty of great material.”

Jay Clemens, a Board member from North Dakota with decades of experience working in Silicon Valley said, “Building a state-of-the-art online platform associated with the library will allow us to showcase the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt in ways that few can imagine, creating an educational experience that will reach around the globe and be relevant for decades. We are excited to collaborate with the educational, business and governmental sectors to create an actual and virtual library of which the entire region can be proud.”

Roosevelt organizations challenged to "dream bigger"

On Tuesday, February 20, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF) hosted a subcommittee meeting at the Rough Riders Hotel in Medora, bringing together local and national organizations whose missions are inspired by Theodore Roosevelt.

Throughout the day, guests engaged in thoughtful discussion and sparked conversation about the future of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in western North Dakota.

Former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer welcomed the participants. Reflecting upon Theodore Roosevelt’s accomplishments and work ethic, he said, “That life of charging up the hill and making a difference for all continues to be important in today’s times. Let’s get to know that life.” His address ignited a sense of pride and unity throughout the room, a great transition into the keynote address by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Governor Burgum’s speech was uplifting and inspiring. He encouraged all involved to think wider and collaborate together, saying, “I invite you to dream bigger. I challenge all of you to break down whatever it takes — to break through to something more meaningful and more important than you’re thinking now.”

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After his keynote address, an open discussion with the Governor and Theodore Roosevelt Humanities Scholar Clay Jenkinson allowed guests to express their aspirations for advancing the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. Those who participated in this Q&A included Scott Davis of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission and Theodore Roosevelt V, among others.

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When Theodore Roosevelt V spoke, he addressed what this project means, saying, “You are on the cusp of creating something meaningful. Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy reminds us of the importance of being an American citizen in the broadest sense, and that’s increasingly important work.”

Overall, this meeting proved just how many national and local associations have positive interests in the future of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. The event inspired all involved to think about the larger impact of the library and museum. As Ed Schafer concluded in his opening remarks, “We are all here to advance the actions and direction of Theodore Roosevelt to the rest of the world.”

TRPLF elects Serena Roosevelt to its Board of Trustees


The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF) has announced the election of Serena Torrey Roosevelt to its Board of Trustees.

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“We are honored to have Serena’s support of our mission in bringing the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum to western North Dakota,” said Board Chair Bruce Pitts. “She is an extraordinary woman – one who exemplifies the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt perfectly. We couldn’t be more humbled that she will be on the front lines with us as we build our capital campaign to honor one of the most accomplished presidents in our country’s history.”

Ms. Roosevelt is a strategy, communications and design-thinking consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently completed a year at the Stanford University d.school, a hub for innovation, collaboration and creativity. Prior to her time at Stanford, Ms. Roosevelt was the general manager of startup solutions journalism company, NationSwell.

“Serena’s entrepreneurial spirit will guide our strategy to ensure the museum and library becomes a forward-thinking, interactive hub for visitors to find inspiration in discovering their own role in our democratic society, just as Theodore Roosevelt did himself,” said TRPLF CEO Wally Goulet. “We are thrilled to have Serena on our Board.”

From 2003 to 2013, Ms. Roosevelt worked for New York magazine, running communications, strategy, and business development for the outlet and the company’s award-winning digital business. From 1997 to 2003, she served multiple political campaigns and a number of government office-holders, and remains passionately involved in politics.

“I am honored to be joining the board of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation and very much look forward to partnering with the dedicated men and women who have worked tirelessly to launch this important project. Almost 100 years after Theodore Roosevelt’s extraordinary life ended, it is time for Americans and scholars from around the world to have a place to gather, study, celebrate and advance his work,” said Ms. Roosevelt.

Ms. Roosevelt serves on the Board of Directors of EWG, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to education about and advocacy for environmental health. She was born and raised in New York City, graduated from Brown University, and lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, Theodore Roosevelt V, and their three children.