Meet Your Board Members: Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager

by Circe Olson Woessner,

Over the next few months, I will introduce you to one of our board members. This month, I will feature Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager, who joined us in June 2012. Here’s a little bit about her:

DOD and Navy Brat, Rachael Cleveland

Rachael Cleveland, Education and Social Media Programs Manager , is a military brat, business owner, and freelance writer. Born to a career sailor and a Department of Defense employee (both with 20+ years and still going), she’s lived in six states and three countries. After receiving her Bachelor’s in English from the University of New Mexico, she combined her scholastic know-how and passion for education into a tutoring business, Learn With Rachael. Through social media, networking, and blogging, she hopes to help each military family learn about the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF). She also founded the social groups,  ABQ Brats and SW Brats.

Rachael admits,  “From the very first moment I stumbled upon the museum’s website, I realized that this was something special. I’m thrilled to be in on the ground floor and from this early point. The museum will not only show other military families out there that they are part of a strong, proud history, but it will help demonstrate to the rest of the country that just like our service members, we too, have gone out of our way to support our nation. The museum stands to help future generations come to terms with the military life and offer closure and community to those who have already made it through.”

Rachael adds, “For over 20 years, I’ve been preparing for this position from those early days, standing at piers, squinting at the incoming submarines, and hoping to see one mustachioed face in particular smiling back. Life as a brat has not always been easy, but I understand those difficulties and also the blessings for both military brats and the children of Department of Defense Employees.

“As a young adult, my specific experiences span the Cold War to the War on Terror. I know that my experiences stand apart from those of my civilian peers and with my own stories, I can help other young people today realize the severity of our more contemporary history.”

Rachael is very technologically savvy. She comes to us with years of social networking and technology experience. She has enthusiasm, focus and drive, which we at MAMF really admire and appreciate. Because of her experiences and specific skills, we believe that she can bring a fresh, youthful vitality to the museum to help it connect with the most recent generations of brats and also be a positive, inspiring role model.

Rachael, will help the museum provide outreach to schools and military family and brat organizations.

Rachael says, “I believe that part of civic duty is to give back. This is the way I want to give back to the world that raised me, and I know I have what it takes to make a difference.”

To learn more about Rachael, check out her sites at:


It’s Not Just Our Soldiers Who Serve Country

by | Jun 28, 2012 | Filed under: News

Circe Olson Woessner never raised her right hand and promised “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t served her country. As a wife, a mother and a daughter, she has served in a military role that you don’t hear much about on Veterans Day or Memorial Day — that of a family member.

As a girl, she followed her mother and father around the world as they worked in American Department of Defense schools that served military families. As a wife, she moved more than 20 times during her husband’s military career. And as a mother, she worries about a son who serves in the Army.

It was during her son’s deployment to Iraq when she got the idea for a museum that celebrates the American military family.

“All I could think was that there were Iraqi families that were worried about their sons,” Woessner said. “I thought, ‘military moms are tough, we have to be.’ ”

It also led her online to see what resources were available. And while there are many organizations to help — some supported by the military and others, like the Blue Star Mothers, that are private — there was no one who was collecting the stories of family members.

Ever since the founding of our country, there have been military family members. And their role has only increased as American bases have been located overseas.

And so the Museum of the American Military Family was born. With the help of her father, Allen Olson of Tijeras, Woessner has been working toward getting a permanent home for the museum, as well as creating exhibits and gathering information.

The father and daughter hope to find a location in New Mexico in which to put the museum, and both are optimistic that will happen.

In the meantime, though, they are putting together an exhibit to be shown at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. Woessner says that the exhibit could be up by the fall, but that $20,000 is needed to create and set up the exhibit.

“It sounds like a lot of money,” she said, “but if we can find a corporation to underwrite this it will be easy.”

Without a building and with the need to raise money for exhibits in other museums, the Museum of the American Military Family is mostly an online presence, but it also has a traveling display called Operation Footlocker.

Woessner explained that an old military footlocker stuffed with mementos and is sent to different locations as a community outreach. The footlocker is sent out to different organizations with the trust that it will be returned intact. In addition, Woessner said her museum is working on an educational outreach where a museum member will take a footlocker to a school or other organization and give a presentation.

“We want people to realize that when a service member signs up, there is a family that shares that commitment,” Woessner said. “Our main mission is to preserve the history on the military family.”

The museum is sponsoring a logo contest. Those interested can go to the museum’s website at http://www.museumoftheamerican or its Facebook page at oftheAmerican Military Family to enter the contest, or find out how they can share their stories, photos and items.

Woessner can be reached at 505-504-6830 for more information on the museum.

Contact Rory McClannahan at 823-7102 or by email at

June 2012 News

May and June have been busy months here at the museum. We are in full fund-raising mode. We have two major projects we’re working towards: the five-month exhibit at the National Nuclear Museum and the construction of a permanent space in the Albuquerque metro.


As we meet with service organizations, military families and state and local officials, we have been encouraged to continue our mission to tell the stories of our military families.


We sat down with liaisons from the Albuquerque Mayor’s Office Constituent Services, and members from both the Planning and Parks & Recreation Departments to determine what we will need to do to build a physical museum in the metro area. We have had several productive and encouraging meetings and we plan at least two more in July—each of which will move us closer to our goal of having a building in 2013.


We met with two construction firms, describing what we would like in a structure, and both builders gave us very reasonable initial bids. Because we are in the beginning phase, the blueprints and renderings will be adjusted and tweaked. (Right now we are looking at around $200,000.)


A realtor showed us a possible museum site over in the neighboring city of Rio Rancho, and we also explored other potential locations in nearby East Mountain communities.


Our board met on June 23 to discuss our fundraising progress and to vote on adding another board member to our team. We agreed that the addition of “Brat Liaison” Rachael Cleveland, founder of ABQ Brats, would be super for our organization.


Also, on the 23rd, we spent the afternoon with a group of subject-matter experts developing our strategic plan—we identified our long-term goals and discussed sustainability, our financial perspective and much more. We will meet again in July to complete the mapping. Again, our community’s generosity and support of our purpose is clear: These busy people volunteered an afternoon of their time to help us.


Additionally, we were interviewed by the Rio Rancho Observer in May and the Mountain View Telegraph in June and appreciated the positive media attention.


In July, if we meet our fundraising goals, we will begin designing and building our exhibit under the tutelage of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. We are so excited and honored to have such a strong and generous partner!


So, just into our second year, we continue steady progress. With the further support of generous individuals and institutions, we will continue to celebrate 200+ years of American Military Family history—remember: They Served, too!