Alice Alt was promoted to president of the United States Marshals Museum Foundation last summer to replace Jim Dunn.
Alt moved to Fort Smith six years ago and began working as a consultant to Dunn and later became vice president of development. Alt, 47, earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Lycoming College in her hometown of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and has worked in public relations and marketing for two decades.
In March 2019, Fort Smith voters rejected a ballot proposal for a nine-month, 1-cent sales tax that would have funded the remaining $16 million of the museum’s construction and startup costs. The museum is still expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.
What interested you about working with the Marshals Museum?
The museum interested me on so many levels. First, this institution will have an economic impact not just on the River Valley but also on Arkansas that will affect our future for generations to come. Next, the education component to the museum was another huge driver for me to become a part of the team. Also, being a part of something that would further a creative economy also interested me as the museum sits on the bank of the Arkansas River here in Fort Smith, allowing views to be seen that really can’t be seen anywhere else, and it gives our future leaders a place to craft their thoughts and dreams. And finally, Fort Smith is a unique town with culture, diversity and verve that will play a large role in tourism and destination once the Marshals Museum is open.
What are your goals as the newly minted president of the foundation?
Goals for the United States Marshals Museum Foundation are to finish our capital campaign strong. It’s a $50 million project with $35 million on the books. [There is] $15 million left to go with our sites. $8 million of that is to begin production on the experience design inside the building. [We want] to secure the remaining $7 million and move forward on continuing corporate sponsorships throughout the year and to establish an endowment.
How is the foundation making its case for financial buy-in from the community?
We wrapped our arms around our fellow Fort Smithians and have created grassroots initiatives at personally chosen giving levels. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched so people can give at their chosen level. Time and again, we heard that the people did not want a tax, but that they supported the museum. This allows them to do so at their own level.
What will the museum mean to Fort Smith?
Fort Smith is on the cusp of greatness. So many progressive things are happening in our city. There’s a hum and an energy right now that can’t be denied. When the doors open, the United States Marshals Museum will make Fort Smith and the River Valley a destination.
We are partnering with other cultural institutions across the state to ensure cross-cultural tourism opportunities. It will drive people to our riverfront and create economic development that will continue to move our city forward. It will give Fort Smith a national footprint, as this is a nationally scoped project, bringing in people from across our country and from other nations. It will give Fort Smith a chance to shine both as the bordertown it once was and as an up-and-coming city.
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Fort Smith and the museum go hand in hand, as it has been dubbed “sacred ground” and “home” by marshals across the continent. The Marshals Museum and our town get to walk shoulder to shoulder together to create positive change. That’s the stuff of greatness.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
My father, Arthur Kline Jr., an exceptional human being and my best friend, told me that when you're facing a challenging time, you get 24 hours to lament and feel attacked, and you get one good cry, so make it count. After that, you pull yourself up, you remember who you are, and You. Move. Forward. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You might as well go through it.