John Gilmore Riley Center- Museum for African American History & Culture
419 E Jefferson St
Tallahassee FL 32301
Contact Information
Address 419 E Jefferson St
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Telephone (850) 681-7881
Fax 850 681-7000
Web and Social Media
Donate Directly to this Organization
Donate to this Orgs Endowment Fund at Community Foundation
Riley House Museum & Visitor's Center
At A Glance
Organization DBA
John G. Riley
Riley House
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
EIN Number 59-3518113
Year of Incorporation 1999
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $468,400.00
Projected Expenses $217,846.60
Mission Statement
John G. Riley Center-Museum (JGRCM) is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify, archive and illuminate the blended interrelationship of African American, Native American and European history and preserve African American landmarks and legacies throughout the State of Florida as an enduring public resource through tourism and education. The John G. Riley Center/Museum ("JGRCM") is a historical and cultural gem that sits at the bottom of a hill in the heart of downtown Tallahassee, Florida. The 19th century historic site was once the home of Mr. John Gilmore Riley and represents a community known as Smokey Hollow one of Tallahassee's first thriving neighborhoods of formerly enslaved persons that existed prior to the construction of Apalachee Parkway.
Needs Statement
Long-term needs: 
1. Establishment of a cultural facilities maintenance fund for the 123-year old historic Riley House, and the 2013 newly constructed Riley Visitor Center ($500,000).
2. Operating Support Contingency Fund for ongoing salaries ($500,000) for a 10-year coverage period.
Impact Statement

Our top 3-5 accomplishments from the past year include:

1.    Completion of the new Riley Visitors Center, which was built as a detached annex to the historic John G. Riley house, and is already demonstrating tremendous value-added functionality.

2.    Presidential appointment of the Founder & Executive Director, Althemese Barnes, to the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Board

3.    Riley Museum staff has served as subject matter expert for the city and county’s cultural development initiatives for successful place making (i.e. Smokey Hollow Village, Civil Rights Heritage Side Walk, Frenchtown Legacy Banners; National Blues Marker for Florida at the Bradfordville Blues Club; restoration of Hickory Hill Slave Cemetery in the Miccosukee Greenway)


 Our goals for the current year include:


1) Expanding the membership program to include a more economically, racially and generationally diverse group of local residents, visitors, scholars, researches and industry professionals;


2) Securing recurring funding from major foundations and governmental entities that support the long-term growth and sustainability of the museum;


3) Expanding operational capacity to fund the hiring of two additional staff persons;


4) Exponential increase of online users through implementation of a more interactive website, virtual tour and social media platforms; and most importantly;


5) Preparing the board, staff, stakeholders and Founder/Executive Director for the shift in leadership taking place in 2014, in a way that honors the legacy of a very active and devoted founder as a Director Emeritus, while accomplishing the long-term strategic plan.

Background Statement
The JGRCM is located in the historic Riley House, which is on the fringe of a community once known as Smokey Hollow, in downtown Tallahassee. The Riley home was and is one of few historic structures in Tallahassee that is still standing on its original location, and is open to the public for viewing. The original owner of the house, John Gilmore Riley, was born into slavery in Leon County on September 24, 1857 and died in 1954. After slavery, he chose education for a career and went on to become the first black principal of Lincoln Academy in 1893, and held that position until 1926. By the time of his death, he was recognized as an astute businessman, Grand High Priest of the Royal Arch Masons of Florida, churchman, civic leader, and mentor. He organized Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Churches across Florida and helped to coordinate Booker T. Washington educational tours in 1908-1912.
The Riley House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Riley Center/Museum was established in 1996, and located its archive in the library at Tallahassee Community College in 2003. The museum has an annual visitation of over 8,000, website visitation over 25,000, and has mentored 46 university students through its internship program. It is also the headquarters of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network, which was organized in 1997 as a professional association of statewide museums. The Riley Museum has grown to be a highly contributing resource to the economy, by supporting many local businesses and independent consultants as project contractors and vendors. Riley House serves as an incubator for students with interest in museum management, historic preservation and education, and is frequently recruited by local and state governments and numerous community organizations to facilitate or represent on community-based projects.
Service Categories
Areas of Service
Areas Served
Tallahassee, Smokey Hollow Community, and Frenchtown
Board Chair Statement
   The JGRCM supports small businesses: insurance agents, security agencies, office supply stores, management consultants & account firms - $35,369;
Pays expenses for power, water, telephone, Internet & waste disposal equal to that paid by a mid-sized business operating 365 days per year - $22,000; Has a projected Building maintenance, repairs and other restoration and repair projects of $25,000 annually;
Supports the equivalent of 3 full-time workers and 3 part time people - $128,388;
Provides Educational materials for use in all of Florida’s 67 school districts -   $38,000;
Has Riley initiatives, exhibits & sponsored meetings and conferences that contribute to local tourism dollars with expense to present - $2,000 to $8,000 each.
Intern stipends from Florida A&M and Florida State university students have supported the education of 41 students since 1998 - $10,000.

   These expenses are astronomical for an institution the size of the JGRCM. However, the benefits as noted by the influences that have been generated include: Recognition by the National African American Museum-The Smithsonian, which has declared it and its Florida Network (FAAHPN) to be a model and Vetting of the Executive Director of JGRCM for a congressional appointment to the Institute of Museums and Library Services Board of Directors should be appreciated by all individuals and institutions within the boundary of Leon County and Tallahassee. These high level recognitions  have the potential to bring additional attention to our area as well as the state, and showcase Florida as a national leader, and “the bedrock”, for historic preservation, tourism, and scholarly preservation.

CEO Statement/Executive Director Statement
   The JGRCM benefits Tallahassee, Leon County, and the Big Bend in many ways, reaching various populations through educational programs that focus on appreciation for diversity, and illuminating the blended interrelationship among multiple peoples of the world. Through sponsorship of literacy based youth programs designed to engage students in critical thinking and articulation of ideas as a means of improving academic performance, the museum is helping to build a more informed and culturally tolerant next generation.

   The greatest challenge is having the financial resources to sustain its one-of-a-kind historic facility and the staff in order to maintain high quality programs that are heralded across the state, region and nation.  Continuation of the JGRCM is also a benefit for small businesses, the backbone of our economy, to include graphic designers, printing companies, content developers, writers, artists, exhibit fabricators and installers. Its reputation and success in attracting new meetings and conferences to Tallahassee and Leon County contribute to city/county initiatives to “put heads in beds”, thereby strengthening the economy while improving the tangibles and intangibles that make our communities special.
Description The JGRCM offers a variety of programs:
1. Oral history program
2. Intercultural and multicultural outreach program that includes workshops, lectures, a speaker’s bureau, on-site and walking tours, special exhibits and cultural events
3. Youth Heritage Education Programs
4. Archive at Tallahassee Community College as a research component
5. Internship Program
6.  Conducts research and produces historical publications including heritage trail guides, books highlighting landmarks and legacies in the community
7.  Produces CDs and DVDS that tell stories and share anecdotes about our local and state history
Budget $365,000.00
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served , ,
Short Term Success These are determined via regular staff meetings and evaluated each year during the board and staff retreat.
Long term Success

These are also a part of the annual retreat, evaluation, and re-assessment of goals, objectives and activities.


Program Success Monitored By Success is monitored by the board and staff. In 2010 the organization requested and received a MAP (Museum Assessment Program) review by the National Historic Preservation Association.
Examples of Program Success
  • Received 2003 Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation Education Award;
  • The Executive Director received the 2005 Mary Call Collins Award for Outstanding Contributor to Heritage Preservation in Florida and Volunteer of the Year for the Tallahassee Democrat in the Arts;
  • The organization was selected to host the 2011 National Association of Museums Conference in Tallahassee, Florida
  • JGRCM was selected by Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt in 2010 to provide content that infused African American and African Diaspora history into its new K-8 Civic in Action textbook.
The JGRCM serves as the headquarters of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network Association. The purpose of the network is to coordinate the preservation of Florida's African American historical, cultural, and archaeological treasures through educational, outreach, and advocacy.

The network uses its resources to:

1. Identify all groups engaged in historic and cultural preservation, and develop a resource exchange for members

2. Offer an opportunity to share information and resources of regional funding

3. Provide continuing education for well established and fledgling organizations

4. Support preservation programs based on needs assessments through technical assistance

5. Provide a brain trust that strengthens and supports its members
Budget $150,000.00
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Cultural Heritage
Population Served Blacks, African Heritage, ,
Short Term Success The network continues as a viable organization having been founded in 1997.
Long term Success The projection is that the network will continue to exist. Presently the National African American Museum of History and Culture is developing a proposal to partner with JGRCM on a collections management and museum professional leadership Succession Strategy, utilizing successful strategies and models that they have identified as worthy of replicating.
Program Success Monitored By The Founder, Executive Director and Riley staff conduct periodic surveys to ascertain impact of the professional association.
Examples of Program Success The Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network (FAAHPN) has operated for several years as a major component of the work done by the John G. Riley Center/Museum. As a proven leader in the preservation of African American history, the Riley organization was – and continues to be – the driving force behind the Network’s creation and continued development.
Program Comments
CEO Statement/Executive Director/Board Comments

We believe that history is not merely a collection of knowledge about individual sites, accomplishments, and events but is a broader continuum of human activity that connects past times to the present, shaping visions for the future.

The Riley Education Director makes visits to schools, gives presentations at community events, and presents to numerous groups on topics that connect people with history and heritage.

We offer training to educators in history and cultural heritage curriculum and lesson plan development, conduct workshops demonstrating basic exhibit fabrication and installation techniques, and make oral and visual presentations about the history and heritage of geographic areas throughout Florida. Through our education programs, we help instill in present and future generations the importance of valuing and preserving the remarkable heritage of Florida.
Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. David Jackson
Company Affiliation Florida A&M University- Chairman, History Department and Professor
Term Sept 2012 to Sept 2014
Board Co-Chair
Board CoChair Gwendolyn Spencer
Company Affiliation Owner of Spencer Law Firm
Term Sept 2012 to Sept 2014
Board Members
Claudia Anderson Private business technical consultant
Nancy Benda Retired State Worker
Brian Crumbaker Attorney- Hopping, Green and Sams
Tara Davis Suntrust Bank VP
Dr. Reginald Ellis Community Volunteer
Helene Gold Tallahassee Community College
Patricia Griffin Premier Bank VP
Melody Hadley Assitant Attorney in the Attorney General's Office
Annie Harris Retired Asst Supt-Leon County and Owner of ASH Gallery
Lieutenant Lewis Johnson Tallahassee Police Department
Kianta Key Community Volunteer
Dave Lang Retired Clerk of Court
Maggie Lewis-Butler Leon County School Board Member
Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley Leon County Board of County Commissioners
Commissioner Nancy Miller Tallahassee City Commission
Torrio Osborne Tallahassee Community College
Al Pasini Executive Director of Downtown Improvement Authority
Audra Price Pittman Community Volunteer
George Reynolds Circuit Judge
Theresa Sawyer Community Volunteer
Roosevelt Sawyer Community Volunteer
Gwendolyn Spencer Attorney
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 17
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 7
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 9
Female 14
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 80%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 80%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 9
Standing Committees
Project Oversight
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
CEO Comments The Riley House can boast of having a very dedicated Board of Directors. What is not received in finances is made up for in expertise and other resources brought to the table to help sustain the organization. These range from yard maintenance when needed, to legal, to financial, educational and more.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mrs. Althemese Barnes
Term Start Jan 1996
Mrs. Althemese Barnes, Executive Director, has served since establishment and is the founder.  She received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in 1965 and 1970, respectively, from Florida A & M University and Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Her coursework included: Museum Management, and participated in a Fellowship Scholars Program at Flagler Museum. She has coordinated and implemented planning that resulted in outstanding and highly regarded historical and cultural preservation projects and programs for all seventeen years.
In 2001 she organized the Florida Statewide African American Heritage Preservation Network and Conference, a professional association, providing management training and consultation for African American and other museums, doing significant programming focused on the history of the African Diaspora in the State of Florida.  She has presented at numerous schools, churches, civic and social community organizations on topics related to the mission of the organization. She has also presented at numerous state, national and international meetings and conferences on Heritage Preservation and Conservation Initiatives including:
  • The African Diaspora National Conference in Bermuda and Nassau;
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in Tulsa Oklahoma;
  • IMLS Collections Management Professionals Training in Denver Colorado and New York;
  • Association of African American Museums in Chicago, Illinois and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 
She was the 2012 recipient of the APEX Award from the Black Meeting and Tourism Magazine, a National Publication headquartered in Los Angeles, California, for her leadership in the heritage tourism industry.  The award was presented at the National Travel Professionals of Color Conference held in Denver Colorado.  She also provided heritage tourism consultation to Andros Island officials in April 2011 and is partnering with a group of preservationists and historians on a Bahamian network project to connect the Caribbean to Florida via heritage trails. She has provided internship experiences for 43 graduate level History students from Florida A&M University and Florida State University, eleven of whom have received or are pursing a doctorate degree. She has received numerous other awards and has to her credit, provided oversight for 28 books and documentaries based on historical research and themes.
Co-CEO Marion McGee
Term Start May 2011

Mrs. McGee is the Assistant Director, and helps the Founding Director with general oversight and operations to provide conceptual leadership through specialized disciplines of the museum and affiliate museums.  In accordance with accepted industry standards and professional practices, she helps implement the overall vision, purpose, and mission of the Museum, as well as that of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network.

She collaborates with the Board of Directors to develop policies and procedures that ensure adherence by staff members and volunteers to industry standards, while maintaining a highly efficient operation. Previously, she was  employed with the U.S. Department of Commerce (Bureau of the Census) – Senior Partnership Specialist, trainer for WORKFORCE plus Executive Center, Homebuyers'  Education Trainer for Tallahassee Lenders’ Consortium, Adjunct Professor at Florida State University College of Human Sciences and Statewide Marketing Coordinator for the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and Educational Development Company - Strategic Marketing & Development Coordinator. In addition, she is Abundant Life & Restoration Ministries - Coordinator of the Celebration of Girls Event and Tallahassee Board of Realtors - Florida Licensed Realtor®.

Senior Staff
Title Founder and Executive Director
Title Assistant Director
Title Education/Communications Officer
Title Administrative Assitant/Bookeeper

Director of the 2nd Infantry Regiment United States Colored Troops (USCT) Reenactment Unit and Living History Association

Title Doctor

Director of the Florida African American Heritage Preservation Network and Adjunct Professor in the Department of History and Political Science at FAMU

Full Time Staff 4
Part Time Staff 6
Volunteers 50
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 85%
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation No
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
NonManagement Formal Evaluation No
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
CEO Comments

CEO Comments: At a time when tremendous social forces are driving people everywhere to network and cooperate for sustainable development, there is an almost fanatical attempt by some to cling to past uncooperative practices and to reinforce the top-down model of the few controlling the many. If cultural development demands anything, it is the need to value each person and to recognize that we all have a common story but different ways of telling it.

These different interpretations are understandable as we live in diverse geographical, economic, ethnic, theological and political environments and therefore we often react to similar events differently. What makes these reactions all the more “real” is the way we define the experience. Through language differences and unclear definitions we frequently end up alienating what we should embrace, and demolish what we should develop.

Foundation Staff Comments: Many communities in the US are declining rather than growing and developing; the economy is sinking as debt is increasing; ethnic, theological and political conflicts are growing rather than moderating. The JGRCM must rise to the challenges to make the community more effective in taking its message of heritage education and appreciation to the larger world. Therein is the meaning and significance of support for organizations like the Riley House as we search for meaningful progress in resolving our social, economic, theological and also our political difficulties.

Plans & Policies
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted 2010
Management Succession Plan? Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
The JGRCM has partnerships with Tallahassee Community College (houses the Riley Archive); Florida Museum of History co-sponsorship of the annual Emancipation Proclamation Celebration; Goodwood Museum and Gardens sponsorship of the annual Blended Lives, which was started by the JGRCM; Visit Tallahassee and Downtown Improvement Authority – collaborate to bring special meetings and conferences to Tallahassee; Florida Department of State-Riley will partner for VIVA Florida Commemoration in 2013; Legal Advise – Holland and Knight Law Firm; Financial Advisement- Spencer Accounting Firm.
Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation Education AwardTallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation Inc.2003
Mary Call Collins Award for Outstanding Contributor in Heritage Preservation in FloridaFlorida Secretary of State's Office2005
Volunteer of the Year for the ArtsTallahassee Democrat2005
Selected to host the National Association of Museums ConferenceNational Association of Museums Conference2011
Selected to provide historical content infusing African American and African Diaspora history in its new textbookHoughton Mifflin, Harcourt2012
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01 2013
Fiscal Year End Dec 31 2013
Projected Revenue $468,400.00
Projected Expenses $217,846.60
Endowment Value $88,218.00
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage (if selected) 3%
Form 990s
Audit or In-House Financial Documents
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201220112010
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$286,683$152,424$204,567
Individual Contributions$1,179$50,835$558
Investment Income, Net of Losses$2,474$4,258$4,114
Membership Dues$0$5,223$7,856
Special Events$0$25,574$32,112
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201220112010
Program Expense$220,713$206,280$198,456
Administration Expense$98,264$59,679$57,291
Fundraising Expense$20,582$11,679$8,408
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.870.870.96
Program Expense/Total Expenses65%74%75%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue7%5%4%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201220112010
Total Assets$279,366$323,734$359,246
Current Assets$175,029$211,498$238,479
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$279,366$323,734$359,246
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201220112010
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201220112010
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Campaign Purpose Completed a campaign in August 2012 for construction of a Riley Visitors Center in order to serve more people and bring in new revenue.
Goal $300,000.00
Dates Aug 2011 to Aug 2012
Amount Raised To Date 300000 as of Aug 2012
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Organization Comments

In the coming year, the Founding Executive Director and Assistant Director will continue working together to effectively meld existing institutional knowledge with current best practices in museum management. Activities will focus heavily on leadership skill development, increased concentration on the specific components of the museum operation, team building, solidifying support staff, engaging in meetings that strengthen partnerships that have the potential to attract additional resources, ongoing training to enhance knowledge and performance in other key areas of managing a non-profit museum. The major outcome expected at the end of the 2-year grant period will be the transition of the current Assistant Director, Marion McGee, who possesses a strong background in management, administration, program planning and implementation, into the role of Executive Director.

Central to the training, and to the success of the Succession Plan, will be close coordination between the current Assistant Director and Founding Director in assessing on an ongoing basis the performance of the new leadership team and provision of feedback to assure that the goals and objectives of the succession plan are progressing in accordance with schedule and guidelines. With this design, the JGRCM will be able to build upon the excellent foundation that has been the hallmark of the organization for the past seventeen years, and help the Board and staff to take the organization to a greater dimension-locally, nationally and internationally.  


Completion of a new Visitors Center has resulted in more adequate administrative space for full-time salaried personnel and multi-purpose, public programming space for the surrounding community. The successful funding, construction and completion of the new facility has also served as a catalyst for more value-added partnerships to emerge; effectively increasing traditional revenue generators (i.e. Annual Signature Events, Museum Memberships and Exhibit Tour Frequency) through improved technology integration and ongoing promotion of the JGRCM as a destination and viable collaborative partner for long-term resource development endeavors.

Our most important goals for the next five years include: 1.) Capitalizing on the new annex building by marketing the museum as a destination for meetings, small events, and tourism hub for local residents and visitors; 2.) Increasing annual operating budget to $500,000 [or more] with 30% ($150,000) consistently generated through private donor support; 3.) Expanding the membership program to include a more economically, racially and generationally diverse group of local residents, visitors, scholars, researches and industry professionals; 4.) Securing recurring funding from major foundations and governmental entities that support the long-term growth and sustainability of the museum; 5.) Expanding operational capacity to fund the hiring of two additional staff persons (1full-time &1part-time).

Foundation Comments
  • Financial figures were taken from 990s
  • Contributions from foundations and corporations are included with total for individuals as they are not separated in a 990
  • Top 3 funding sources are not reflected above as they are not indicated in a 990
Additional Documents
State Charitable Solicitations Permit
Additional Comments
Nonprofit John Gilmore Riley Center- Museum for African American History & Culture
Address 419 E Jefferson St
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Primary Phone 850 681-7881
Donate with a credit card
Donate to Endowment Fund at Community Foundation
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Mrs. Althemese Barnes
Board Chair Dr. David Jackson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Florida A&M University- Chairman, History Department and Professor
Year of Incorporation 1999