She’s helped the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum grow tremendously over the past two decades, she’s worked for the professional baseball and football teams in Nashville, she’s a native of Kentucky, and she drives a 2019 Corvette.
No surprise, then, that Sharon Brawner has been chosen as the new president and CEO of the National Corvette Museum, assuming her duties today.
“Sharon possesses the necessary skills to expand the mission of this museum and work collaboratively across the organization to help us reach our strategic objectives,” says NCM Board Chairman Glenn Johnson. “Sharon’s leadership skills are proven, and we’re fortunate that her career path led her to our organization.”
For nearly 20 years, Brawner has been senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Under her time there, the museum expanded in 2014, with revenues growing more than 42 percent through 2019 to $42.1 million, up from $29.6 million in 2014.
Her experience at that museum should be very helpful as the National Corvette Museum is in the midst of a major capital campaign for a $12 million, 30,000-square-foot expansion.
Several million dollars have already been raised, and Brawner says the expansion is “very important” to the future of the NCM.
“I fully believe the museum can grow exponentially,” she told the Bowling Green Daily News. “There is more room to grow attendance.”
Brawner also hopes to have the museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. “Accreditation might not mean a lot to the general public,” she told the Daily News, “but it means more to those who would want to give to our collection. That will help us tell our story better.”
Brawner is aiming to expand the museum’s social media and internet presence “to bring along fans from throughout the world.”
“As a Kentucky native and a true car enthusiast, I have long been a fan of the Corvette. I’m thrilled to be able to bring my experience in tourism, museum, and non-profit leadership to The National Corvette Museum,” she said. “I’m beyond honored to accept the position of President and CEO, and I know that, together with the NCM team, we can create incredible new opportunities to continue the growth and success of this world-class museum.”
In her most recent role at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Brawner had day-to-day oversight of the museum’s traditional revenue-producing areas including admission ticket sales, special event sales, restaurant and catering sales, product licensing, corporate sponsorships, and the Museum’s retail store sales. Also operated by the museum, Brawner oversaw the management of Historic RCA Studio B, the Home of 1,000 Hits, and Hatch Show Print, one of the oldest working letterpress shops in America. Additionally, Brawner led the museum’s traditional advertising, promotions, and other marketing communications including the museum’s website, social media outreach, and publicity efforts.
Previously, Brawner was vice president of sales, marketing, and communications for the Nashville Sounds AAA baseball team and, before that, served as the vice president of administration for the Nashville Kats Arena Football team. Early on in her career, Brawner served 10 years in the hotel and hospitality fields within the areas of sales, marketing, and corporate partnerships with the likes of Opryland Hotel, Loews Anatole Hotel, Galt House Hotel, and others.
NCM Search Committee Chair Kai Spande said of the process to find Brawner, “We teamed with a firm specializing in not-for-profit organizations to conduct a thorough, nationwide search to find the best possible candidates. There were many, but Sharon Brawner was the clear choice. Not only does Sharon have extensive experience leading one of the most successful museums in the world, but she’s also a true car buff who was born and raised in Kentucky. We’re looking forward to a bright future with Sharon in the driver’s seat.”
Brawner comes to the NCM with a lifetime of interest in cars, including watching her late father, Jim Hornback, convert a 1969 Corvette Stingray into a race car. Besides her 2019 Corvette, she also owns a couple of vintage 1950s Chevrolets restored by her father.
“When I came home and talked to my husband about this job,” Brawner told the Daily News, “he said it was a job made for me. Cars were a very important part of my life growing up.” Johnson says that Brawner “possesses the qualities and traits that are needed to move the mission and vision of the museum into the future. She’s really a car person, and her experience at the Country Music Hall of Fame aligns with the skills we need at the museum.”
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