Forbes: 9/11 Memorial’s COO Blais is ‘Building a Career on Grit, Grace and Gratitude’

Allison Blais gives a tour of the Memorial pools during the period of construction. She and another woman, both in yellow vests and hardhats, speak beside the construction site.
Allison Blais giving a tour of the Memorial pools during construction. Photo by Amy Dreher.

For more than a decade, Allison Blais has worked on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Before becoming the chief operating officer of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the summa cum laude graduate from Cornell University served as the organization’s senior advisory for strategy and operations and then the chief of staff.

Blais had an integral role in opening the 9/11 Memorial and then the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and now with overseeing operations. She also co-authored a book titled “A Place of Remembrance,” the official book of the organization that covers the creation, planning and building of the 9/11 Memorial.

“Imagine being responsible for the creation of one of the most important remembrances of one of the most horrifying tragedies in modern US history,” Forbes wrote in its Q&A series “This is Fear Factors” published Oct. 31. “All this while raising a family and building a career tied directly to a site that millions study and anticipate and visit to mourn and hope in the same instant.”

Here’s an excerpt of the Q&A between Forbes contributor Nicole V. Cramer and Blais.

Cramer: How do you define success?

Blais: Success is fulfillment: achieving something that holds value for yourself and others and has a real, positive impact. Knowing you’ve changed something that made a difference for people. When I think about the moments I’ve felt most successful in my career, they were transformative: seeing the names being cut through bronze for the memorial (a physical transformation). On a deeper level, watching families find their loved ones’ names for the first time, or children too young to have experienced 9/11 be inspired by the pure courage and compassion of our first responders in the museum.

Read the full Q&A.

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