Sciencenter Names New Executive Director
Ithaca, New York – The Board of Trustees of the Sciencenter announced today that after several months of careful deliberation, Dean Briere has decided not to renew his contract to serve as Executive Director of the Sciencenter. The Board selected Michelle Kortenaar, who has served the Sciencenter in various capacities since 2010, including, most recently, as Vice President of Strategic Development, to succeed Mr. Briere as Executive Director.
“We are very grateful to Dean for his many contributions to the growth and success of the Sciencenter during his tenure,” said Melinda Oakes, the Sciencenter Board Chair. “Under his leadership, the Sciencenter strengthened partnerships with key members of the community, significantly increased outreach to and access for rural communities, and created interactive programming for adults. Dean also played a critical leadership role in, among other things, the design and development of a number of new exhibits, the revitalization of the Sciencenter’s strategic plan, the renovation of the early-childhood space, and in overseeing the steady growth of the Sciencenter’s endowment. We would like to thank him for his dedication and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
“I am honored to have served the Sciencenter and the Ithaca community for the past three years,” said Briere. “And I am thrilled that the Board of Trustees has chosen Michelle to succeed me. Her background and experience in education, exhibits, guest services, and development uniquely qualify her to lead the Sciencenter forward as it cultivates a broad community of curious, confident, critical thinkers.”
The transition from Mr. Briere to Ms. Kortenaar is effective as of November 22, though Mr. Briere has agreed to serve in a consulting capacity to help ensure a smooth transition for the Sciencenter’s new leadership.
The Board stated: “We are very pleased to announce Michelle Kortenaar’s appointment as the new Executive Director of the Sciencenter. Her years of service as a member of the Sciencenter’s leadership team give her a breadth and depth of knowledge of the Sciencenter, its employees, the communities it serves, and its programs and initiatives. When coupled with her demonstrated commitment to and passion for the organization’s mission and vision, she is an ideal leader for the Sciencenter.”
“I am humbled and excited to be assuming leadership of the talented team at the Sciencenter,” said Michelle Kortenaar. “Together we will engage our community by making science accessible to all. I am grateful to Dean for his generosity and look forward to guiding the Sciencenter in new directions while continuing to build on the strategic goals developed under his able leadership.”
Michelle Kortenaar has been at the Sciencenter since 2010, serving as Director of Education, Senior Director of Engagement and Learning, and most recently as Vice President of Strategic Development. Michelle’s career has focused on providing children with opportunities to explore science through open-ended experiences and discovery. Michelle has degrees in both science and education. Michelle’s career began as a physics and biology teacher in Toronto, Canada and in West Orange, NJ. She served as chair of the math and science departments at her last school. Michelle was recruited as the founding director of a multi-department science center at a large summer camp in Milford, PA. Michelle has led the Sciencenter’s work on a number of federal grants – including the Collaborative for Early Science Learning. She is currently the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grant – that creates opportunities for the Sciencenter to partner with Cornell University to engage public audiences in current NSF-funded STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) research. Michelle serves on the extended leadership team of the National Informal STEM Education Network. She spearheaded the Sciencenter’s partnership with many local institutions including Tompkins County Head Start. She has published in the field and often speaks at national conferences about informal science education and national partnerships.