SAINT LOUIS SCIENCE CENTER
President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Louis, MO
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Our mission: to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.
The Saint Louis Science Center (the Science Center) is one of the largest science centers in the country. With an average of one million visitors annually, it consistently ranks among the top 10 most visited museums in the United States and the top 15 in the world. By creating a place where everyone can discover together, the Saint Louis Science Center is putting St. Louis at the center of science, and science at the center of a more connected world.
The Science Center traces its roots to the Academy of Science of St. Louis, founded in 1856 as the first scientific organization west of the Mississippi River. In 1959, the academy created the Museum of Science and Natural History. The museum acquired the McDonnell Planetarium from the city of St. Louis in 1984 and following an extensive renovation, reopened as the Saint Louis Science Center.
Following a $34 million expansion, the Science Center opened in 1991 with a larger footprint that included the OMNIMAX Theater and a highway-spanning connection bridge. The Science Center added the EXPLORADOME in 1997 to provide an additional space for large traveling exhibitions. With the popularity of the EXPLORADOME, the Science Center took action to create a permanent exhibition space. Boeing Hall opened in October 2011, providing 13,000 square feet of dedicated space for traveling exhibitions. The 50,000-square-foot area previously used for the EXPLORADOME was renovated into GROW, a permanent indoor-outdoor exhibit dedicated to the experience of the journey of the food supply from farm to fork. GROW opened to the public in June 2016.
A member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the Science Center features more than 700 interactive experiences in 10 galleries, as well as an indoor-outdoor GROW agricultural pavilion and gallery, the architecturally distinct McDonnell Planetarium, and a four-story OMNIMAX Theater. The Science Center helps people discover the genius in themselves and others with award-winning educational programs, exhibits, and attractions designed to challenge and connect people from students, to scientists, to children and adults. To make the search for knowledge feel like an adventure, the Science Center strives to be the first to introduce new and unusual discoveries, technologies, programs, and learning techniques to the region.
The Science Center was named a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2016. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the Science Center has been able to share Smithsonian artifacts, including space capsules, aircraft, and rare minerals, as well as traveling exhibitions and educational collaborations. The Science Center was one of only four museums nationally to host Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission, the recent widely visited special exhibition. In the museum and science center fields, the Science Center has earned a reputation for innovative practices, award-winning educational programs, and successful partnerships in the local community as well as nationally and internationally.
The Science Center is one of five science, arts, and cultural institutions supported by the St. Louis Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD). Since 1971, residents of St. Louis City and County have generously supported the ZMD a property tax-supported district governed by an eight-member board of directors. The Science Center is able to offer free general admission to all who enter its doors thanks to the generous support from the residents of the ZMD.
The Science Center's annual operating budget is approximately $22 million, with 15,000 members. The Science Center has a dedicated and highly qualified staff of 200 and over 400 volunteers, and is committed to a diverse workforce and healthy workplace. The museum is governed by an active and engaged Board of Commissioners, composed of 10 appointed members, and a self-nominated, 36-member Board of Trustees.
Reporting to the Board of Commissioners through the Chair, thePresident and CEO will provide strategic leadership, management, and direction for the Science Center, and pursue a clear, overarching, and impactful vision to move the organization forward. The President and CEO will bring out the best ideas of museum staff, build consensus around clearly articulated goals, and then segue those priorities into actionable plans and strategies in order to grow and strengthen the institution.
The President and CEO will be expected to serve as the principal ambassador for the Science Center, enhance its presence and relevance, and encourage and support the kinds of innovations, new exhibitions, and programs that capture the imaginations of the Science Center's youth audiences, making learning about science fun. While optimizing the overall visitor experience, this person will take the organization from "nice to necessary" in the eyes of St. Louis parents, civic leaders, and educators, nurture external relationships, and position him/herself as a leader within the educational, scientific, and cultural communities of St. Louis.
It is expected that the President and CEO will work closely with the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Trustees to develop, articulate, and communicate institutional goals and priorities. To achieve these goals, this person will play a proactive, highly visible role in fundraising, including developing and implementing strategies that significantly increase the organization's base of financial support from individuals, foundations, government, and corporate sponsorships. Additionally, this person must demonstrate his/her commitment to the Science Center's already strong emphasis on STEaM learning, while providing and serving as a resource that amplifies the appeal of the Science Center to the broadest possible audience.
PRIORITIES AND KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
The President and CEO will capitalize on the Science Center's potential and have the following priorities and responsibilities:
- Offer a broad vision for the museum that ensures the integration and balance of exhibition and educational objectives; begin to formulate and lead strategic planning efforts which bring clarity to short- and long-term goals and objectives; establish and communicate a baseline for success across all programs, resources, and other activities to measure progress;
- Understand the business of the Science Center: its budget, earned income potential, partnerships, and sources of support, including the ZMD, corporate sponsors, and area foundations; ensure that the Science Center is fiscally sound, that resources are aligned with the operating plan, and that the institution is supported by a sustainable mix of both earned and contributed income;
- Recognizing the area's taxpayers as the museum's largest annual donors, the President and CEO will understand the political landscape in the city and county; quickly become familiar with the dynamics of, and work collaboratively within, and serve as an advocate for the Science Center with the ZMD;
- Take a leading and highly visible role in fundraising; develop cultivation strategies that increase the Science Center's base of support, including young patrons; cultivate the philanthropic interests of donors with specific interests, and tap into the passions of long-time donors who may be waiting for the "next big idea" to support; nurture the philanthropic interests of those with a greater capacity for giving who could enthusiastically support the organization at higher levels;
- Develop compelling exhibits and experiences that build on the Science Center's strengths and major relevant questions and topics; expand educational activities and programs that are geared toward reaching the broadest possible audience across a range of age-appropriate, academic, social, and intellectual activities; welcome the scientific community to the institution and continue to build cooperative partnerships with the public schools, universities, and other educational groups;
- Explore new ideas around youth programming and membership, curricula development, lectures, etc.; engage an even larger audience of school groups, civic groups, and the general public with exhibits and educational experiences that invigorate inquiry and make science come alive;
- Be an aggressive, creative, and entrepreneurial force in the pursuit of additional earned income opportunities and enterprises; ensure there is a balance among programmatic integrity, willingness to take creative risks within the business and budgetary realities of the Science Center;
- Foster a strong working relationship with the Board of Commissioners and its leadership; learn their respective roles, responsibilities, funding requirements, and process; focus on and begin to codify the dynamic of working and effectively communicating with both the Commissioners and the Board of Trustees; begin to define and articulate the appropriate relationships and responsibilities with each Board as well as the role of President in relationship to the ZMD;
- Forge strong and sustainable working relationships with the Board of Trustees; understand their strengths and capabilities and bring forth their best ideas, efforts, resources, and contacts; manage expectations and keep Board members well informed and up to date on the Scienter Center's institutional and fiscal standing;
- Inspire, motivate, evaluate, and direct staff; nurture an aspirational culture that fosters an environment of creativity, collaboration, and strategic thinking; model transparency accountability; strengthen interdepartmental communication and interaction; ensure administrative policies and procedures are timely and up to date; attract and hire talent appropriately, with particular attention to adding expertise/bench strength to core areas of science and education as needed;
- Continue to strengthen the Science Center's brand in order to expand the audience base and attract new members; raise awareness of the organization and its programs through external relations, publications, and local and national press, and social media, while reinforcing the reputation of the Science Center as a trusted partner in the scientific community; position the institution as a preeminent leader in the field;
- Harness and maximize the appropriate use of technology and digital media in promoting the Science Center, reaching new and diverse audiences and creating innovative and engaging exhibitions and programs; encourage the effective use of new technology, improved internal coordination, and communication;
- Nurture membership and volunteer participation; assess member benefits and programs to ensure that members are recognized and valued for their support; clearly demonstrate the Science Center's appreciation of volunteers;
- Develop and manage budgets, both the annual and capital, to ensure effective and responsible fiscal practices; ensure that capital assets (collections, buildings, grounds, exhibitions, and equipment) are protected; oversee all management policies, procedures, and systems to ensure the highest level of efficiency and quality throughout the organization;
- On the heels of the recent completion of the Science Center's $62 million capital campaign, begin to formulate and establish the framework for the museum's next capital and endowment campaign efforts.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The ideal candidate will have a deep interest in and a passion for the current and future role of the Saint Louis Science Center, and should have or be the following:
- A transformational and inspiring leader, able to translate vision into workable actions and priorities; a team builder with strong business and management skills and a record of achievement in bringing about change in exciting and creative ways;
- Financial acumen commensurate with running a civic institution the size and stature of the Science Center; experience developing and managing a budget; able to interpret and articulate financial statements and financial performance; entrepreneurial business skills that transfer into growth and expansion of revenue-generating activities;
- Proven track record as a dynamic and accomplished fundraiser; successful results in identifying, cultivating, and soliciting major donors, foundation grants, government support, and corporate sponsorships, and generating other sources of revenue;
- Superior communication and presentation skills that are effective with a range of audiences, including business, academic, and community leaders, the media, and the general public;
- A commitment to educational outreach; leadership experience in nurturing the development of programming, curricula, and engagement; meaningful experience in developing productive relationships with educational institutions;
- Education and understanding of science/technology and their importance/impact on community and culture; a bachelor's degree in some area of science and a graduate degree in finance/business would be preferred.
The President and CEO should also be or have:
- Proven managerial, problem-solving, and strategic-planning capabilities, ideally, in a highly collaborative environment in a public or nonprofit setting; significant private-sector experience may also be considered; able to breakdown silos and manage effectively in all directions;
- A person who can affect and manage change; able to manage multiple priorities and engagement strategies, ranging from the broad and strategic to the narrow and tactical, with the ability to grow an organization in size, impact, and visibility; able to balance external responsibilities with day-to-day, inhouse management priorities;
- A self-starter, hands-on leader and consensus builder who will quickly gain the respect and credibility of all key constituencies; an outgoing people person who will warmly embrace volunteers and community members; willingness to actively participate in the cultural and civic life of St. Louis;
- Persuasive, resourceful, charismatic, and energetic; able to generate enthusiasm and inspire others; the will to win as a team, to delegate and prioritize with clarity and confidence.
Applications, including cover letters and resumes, and nominations should be sent to the attention of Mark Tarnacki at ScienceCenter@PhillipsOppenheim.com.