Saint Louis Science Center

Chief Officer for Science and Education, St. Louis, MO


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.

A member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), 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 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 the newly renovated four-story OMNIMAX Theater. The Science Center helps people discover the genius in themselves and others with award-winning educational programs, special 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. Smithsonian artifacts featured in the museum include 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 Science Center is one of five 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 $24 million, with greater than 15,000 members.


Reporting to, and serving as a deputy to the President and CEO, the Chief Officer for Science and Education will provide strategic direction, visioning, operational leadership, and program content for education, exhibits and programs and all related science and education engines of the Science Center, including collections, design, exhibits, strategy and planning, research and evaluation, and community engagement for the Saint Louis Science Center.

The Chief, along with their peers on the senior management team, will serve as champion for the Science Center, enhancing its presence and relevance, and encouraging and supporting the kinds of innovations, new and traveling exhibitions, and programs that will capture the imaginations of the Science Center's audiences of all ages. Specifically, the Chief will be responsible for the overall guest experience around our science and education exhibits and programs and the integration of other departmental functions to ensure that institutional goals and priorities designed to attract and engage new and diverse audiences are met.

The Chief will build, motivate, evaluate, and mentor a team of creative and enthusiastic departmental directors and managers, and support team leaders in their efforts to provide exciting, informative, and engaging guest experiences. The Chief will be responsible for the professional development of their team through effective coaching and performance management.

The Chief will be expected to serve as a leader internally and beyond, within the educational, scientific, and cultural communities of St. Louis. Additionally, it is expected that this person must demonstrate their 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.


The Chief will capitalize on the Science Center's potential and have the following priorities and responsibilities:

  • Develop compelling exhibits, special events, and experiences that build on the Science Center's strengths and major relevant questions and topics; ensure the integration and balance of exhibition and educational objectives; with the President, begin to formulate and lead planning efforts which bring clarity to short- and long-term goals and objectives;
  • 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;
  • Lead the overall design and development of the Science Center's program portfolio and engagement strategies for onsite, offsite, and online programs, initiatives and special projects; in partnership with the exhibition design team, serve as project sponsor and innovator of major permanent and semi-permanent exhibitions as well as special projects;
  • Lead the incubation and launch of new initiatives, such as the Carnegie STEM Pathway (Stemisphere) and Portal to the Public (STEM professionals on the floor);
  • Review and maximize the potential of the Science Center's science and education-related, earned revenue programs;
  • Take the lead in developing a comprehensive strategy to integrate STEaM content, maintain scientific integrity, and ensure connections to the STEaM professional community; facilitate the development of partnerships and collaborations with colleges and universities, area school districts, and community partners;
  • Represent the Science Center through leadership roles in various external organizations based on expertise, as well as at various relevant conferences; cultivate key relationships within national organizations, museum education networks, and STEM learning ecosystems;
  • Support the President in fundraising efforts; cultivate the philanthropic interests of potential and long-time donors as appropriate; work closely with the institutional advancement and marketing divisions to support fundraising efforts, grant opportunities, and promoting visitation to the Science Center;
  • Inspire, motivate, evaluate, and direct staff; nurture an aspirational, warm, diverse and inclusive culture that fosters an environment of creativity, collaboration, and strategic thinking; attract and hire talent appropriately, with particular attention to adding expertise/bench strength to core areas of science and education as needed;
  • To enhance the guest experience, harness and maximize the appropriate use of technology in exhibition and education program development; with the Chief Marketing Officer, craft a social media/digital engagement strategy for promoting the Science Center and for reaching new and diverse audiences; encourage the effective use of new technology, improved internal coordination, and communication;
  • Serve as a liaison for the President and CEO to Board Committees as appropriate, professional organizations, funding agencies, businesses, government agencies, and the general public when needed;
  • Present at conferences, convenings, and facilitate workshops and represent the Science Center as needed in cultivating relationships with national organizations such as IMLS, NASA, NSF, AAAS, ASTC, ACM, AAM, NSTA, IMERSA, ISTE, Smithsonian Affiliates, etc.;
  • Direct research regarding permanent collections, changing exhibitions and educational theory as it relates to STEM, and informal learning; keep up to date on the latest technologies and experience-based approaches for learning;
  • Oversee and administrate the process of data collection, analysis, and reporting of information for institutional measures of success (visitor satisfaction, net promoter, program mission impact),remain current on best practices in nonprofit leadership and innovation in science centers and museums.


The scope of this role will reflect the strengths and experience of the ideal candidate, who, first and foremost, must demonstrate a deep interest in the current role and future potential of the Saint Louis Science Center, and should have or be the following:

  • A forward-thinking and inspiring leader, with a demonstrated passion and understanding of science/technology and their importance/impact on community and culture, with a record of achievement in visitor-centric science and/or education programming;
  • A commitment to educational outreach; leadership experience in nurturing the development of programming, curricula, and engagement; a demonstrated commitment to bringing of the Science Center's educational mission beyond the walls of the institution and out into the community, particularly into communities of need who lack resources; meaningful experience in developing productive relationships with educational institutions and partners;
  • Able to translate vision into workable actions and priorities; a team builder with strong business and management skills; superior communication and presentation skills that are effective with a range of audiences;proven interpersonal skills and comfort interacting with visitors, communities, and coworkers;
  • An advanced degree in some area of science and/or education: MA, MS, or MEd/MAT degree in a STEM field, education, museum studies, or related field (doctorate or terminal degree in related field preferred).

The Chief Officer should also be or have:

  • A person who can grow programs, excite constituents, and expand institutional reach, impact, and visibility; able to coordinate multiple priorities and manage effectively in all directions;
  • Able to generate enthusiasm, inspire others, and delegate with clarity and confidence; proven supervisory capabilities, ideally, in a highly collaborative environment in a public or nonprofit setting;
  • Proven skill in project management as well as program development and implementation;
  • A 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;
  • Persuasive, flexible, resourceful, and energetic;
  • Must be proficient in using office productivity and project management computer applications and cloud-based solutions.

Applications, including cover letters and resumes, and nominations should be sent to the attention of Mark Tarnacki at ScienceCenter@PhillipsOppenheim.com.