Patricia Mooradian began working at The Henry Ford thinking it would be an interesting experience to go from the for-profit world to a non-profit. If it worked, it worked, otherwise she would go on to something else.
“Here I am, 18 years later, absolutely loving it, probably more than I did when I started,” she said. “I’m so ingrained with the mission now myself, it’s become part of who I am. It’s changed my life.”
When Mooradian – who started as vice president in 2000 and become The Henry Ford’s CEO in 2005 – talks about the work she and her team have done during her tenure, that passion and awe and excitement is in every syllable. You would think this is her first week on the job, not her 936th.
For her, the people she works with – who she called some of the most talented she’s ever worked with – are part of the reason she’s stayed so long. Mooradian knows the importance of being able to work together. She grew up with four sisters, who often had to band together to get things done.
“That opportunity to be resourceful and creative translates into my life today and into my work,” said the Bloomfield Hills resident. “I always seemed to enjoy working with a lot of people and creating teams.”
At her current job she not only works with a lot of people spread throughout the campus’ 250 acres, but a lot of items. The Henry Ford has one of the finest collections in the world representing American progress, innovation and ingenuity.
Mooradian is partial to Edison’s laboratory and the Rosa Parks bus, the latter of which she still gets goosebumps from even though she’s been on it hundreds of times. She isn’t the only one effected by their collection. She recently heard from a family that sat on the bus, which propelled them to have a conversation they may not have otherwise.
“That’s why we exist,” she said. “And when you put that story in to the context of today and all the things that are happening in the world, you can look back in order to look forward. I always say even though we are an American history museum with these great stories of progress and history and American innovation, we’re about the future.”
In the last decade, Mooradian and her team have taken that last part to heart. They know the way the world learns and engages is quickly changing, so they started digitizing their collection, which has turned into an entire department.
These digital changes have had some pretty large effects on The Henry Ford, which now works with people all over the world. The other thing that came out of that was a TV show, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca, which airs weekly on CBS and has been syndicated in 67 countries.
“Part of that is because we digitized, because of technology, because we are trying to extend our brand and become more nationally known, which is helping us become more globally known,” Mooradian said.
Saying Mooradian has accomplished a lot during her time at The Henry Ford would be an understatement, but she shows no signs of slowing down or leaving any time soon. She’s in it for the long haul now.
“There’s so much more to do that I see myself doing it for…well into the future,” she laughed. “Retirement is not a word I use.”
Photo: Laurie Tennent