June 1, 2023 / News & Blog

Association of Children’s Museum welcomes five new board members and announces new roles for its governing board

Arlington, VA—The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM), the world’s foremost professional society supporting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums, and those who work at and otherwise sustain them, is pleased to name its 2023 Board of Directors. Voted as a slate by the association’s membership, ACM first announced the Board at its annual conference, InterActivity 2023: Leveraging Our Voice, hosted April 26–28 in New Orleans.

Newly joining the ACM Board as At-Large Members for three-year terms are:

Rongedzayi Fambasayi, Managing Director, Play Africa Johannesburg

Gretchen Kerr, Chief Operating Officer, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Brindha Muniappan, PhD, Senior Director of the Museum Experience, Discovery Museum (Acton, MA)

Hilary Van Alsburg, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Tucson

Stephen White, Esq., Chief Strategy Officer, Vice President of Partnerships and Business Development, Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (Columbus, OH)

Joe Cox, President & CEO at Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was named President Elect for the 2023–2024 term, and will serve as Board President for the 2024–2026 term.

New officers and committee chairs will join ACM President Joe Hastings of Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Past President Tanya Durand of Greentrike in Tacoma, Washington. They include:

• Vice President Crystal Bowyer, President & CEO, National Children’s Museum

• Secretary Putter Bert, President & CEO, KidsQuest Children’s Museum (Bellevue, WA)

• Treasurer and Finance Chair Felipe Peña III, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Brownsville

• Governance & Nominating Chair Tifferney White, Chief Executive Officer, Louisiana Children’s Museum

• Strategic Initiatives Chair Dené Mosier, President & CEO, Kansas Children’s Discovery Cent

“The ACM Board of Directors represents the ACM membership as leaders in the children’s museum field,” said ACM Executive Director Arthur G. Affleck, III. “The governing body will oversee the association as we implement our newly shared five-year strategic plan. We are appreciative to this important group of volunteers whose willingness to share their expertise and enthusiasm with ACM will help us better serve children, their families, and the community.”

The plan has four inter-related priorities: elevating the children’s museum community; lifting up children and families; advancing the field through advocacy, policy, and research; and strengthening the organization. All the work in every priority will be evaluated through the two overarching lenses of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI), and environmental resiliency and regeneration.

More about the ACM Board leadership:

New Board President Elect:
Joe Cox has served as the President and CEO of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, since February 2018. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Museum connects more than 450,000 visitors to inspiring science annually. He has worked in the museum field for more than 20 years having previously served as the President of the EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature in Worcester, Massachusetts (2012–2018) and as Founding Executive Director of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Florida (2004–2012) where he led a campaign to raise more than $25million to build the Museum. Joe has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science from St. Mary’s University in London with a focus on environmental law and paleoquaternary biogeography and completed his Masters in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. Joe was the recipient of a Smithsonian Fellowship in Museum Practice based at the National Zoo and National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. He completed the Getty Museum Leadership Institute at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Joe is past Chair of the Florida Association of Museums Foundation.

New At-Large Board Members:

Rongedzayi Fambasayi is a children’s rights lawyer who since August 2022 has been Managing Director at Play Africa Children’s Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a passionate champion of children’s rights, the power of cities to support children’s rights, including the right to play. He is also an external expert on children and climate change with the African Union’s Children’s Committee. After attending the University of Zimbabwe for undergrad, Rongedzayi obtained his Master’s in Law and finalising a PhD Law and Development both from North-West University (Noordwes-Universiteit).

Gretchen Kerr became Chief Operating Officer of Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus in July 2010 after serving as the Vice President of Development. Leading all facets of museum operations, including the museum’s DEAI initiatives, and continuing to play a key role in organizational fundraising efforts, Gretchen helped lead the museum’s $16.1 million expansion campaign in 2015. Before joining the museum, she worked for the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross. She is a member of the Association Alliance of Museum’s 2023 Executive Committee for their Annual Meeting, serves on the Advisory Committee for the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Customer Service Program, is a graduate of Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Denver. Gretchen graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S in Kinesiology. 

Brindha Muniappan’s passion for science communication led her from the research bench into the field of informal science education. Since joining Discovery Museum in 2019, she has helped expand the organization’s diversity, equity, access, and inclusion initiatives to connect with more underserved and marginalized children and is committed to sharing Discovery Museum’s efforts widely. Before joining the Discovery Museum, Brindha led the Education and Public Programs team at the MIT Museum and was part of the Current Science and Technology team at the Museum of Science, Boston. Brindha earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and Ph.D. in biological engineering from MIT. 

Hilary Van Alsburg became the Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Tucson and its satellite location inside a nature park after a varied career in law and the non-profit sector in Tucson—to include experience as an entrepreneur, school teacher, and time at the University of Arizona.

Stephen White, Esq. is the Chief Strategy Officer, and serves as In-House Counsel at the Center for Science and Industry (COSI), the number one science center in the nation by USA Today.  During his career, he founded the theory of Servant Learning as an engagement strategy to help bridge the “COVID Canyon” education gap with the philosophy to inspire others to dream more, do more, and become more.  In his role at COSI, he is oversees the development of optimizing the entrepreneurial business model for the organization, building new models of impactful education programming, creating and implementing a global strategy for public partnerships at the city, state, and federal levels, and leading the execution of COSI’s Strategic Plan. As a first generation student, Mr. White earned three degrees, all from The Ohio State University, including his B.A. in English and Political Science, J.D. from the OSU Moritz College of Law, and his M.A. in Public Policy and Management from the OSU John Glenn College of Public Affairs, and extended his learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the OSU Moritz College of Law covering nonprofit law and leadership, as well as several state and federal boards including as Co-Chair of the International Space Station Subcommittee on Education. 

A complete list of the ACM Board of Directors can be found on the ACM website.