Lincoln Bicentennial Commission behind in fundraising ... appoints new director

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Eileen R. Mackevich, co-founder and president of the Chicago Humanities Festival from 1989 to 2005, has been chosen to be executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
Mackevich was selected from three finalists because of her high energy level and her fundraising abilities, Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, said Thursday. The commission is significantly behind in its plans to raise $100 million for events commemorating the 16th president's 200th birthday in 2009, he said. LaHood co-chairs the bicentennial commission along with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer....

Mackevich, who will start Oct. 10, will be paid an annual salary of $163,500 plus a $20,000 relocation fee to move from Chicago to Washington.

Diane Liesman, chief of staff for LaHood's congressional office, has served as acting executive director of the commission since May when the previous executive director, Michael Bishop, left. LaHood would not say if Bishop resigned or was fired. "It was a parting of the ways. It didn't work out," LaHood said. "I'll leave it at that."

However, asked if the commission was behind in its fundraising, LaHood said "very much so."

He said the commission still has time to get back on track with fundraising for a series of planned events culminating in 2009 with fireworks and a celebrity-studded event at the Lincoln Memorial. "All of us felt that she's the person who could really energize those people around the country that have a deep interest in Lincoln around those events that we need to fund," LaHood said.

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