By Cristin Dorgelo, President and CEO
In this year of renewed strategic planning, I’m excited to announce two new members of the ASTC team who will help ensure that our organization has the capacity we need to undertake strategic planning while delivering excellence to our members.
Christofer Nelson joins the team as our new Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Billie McGrane is starting today as our Senior Manager of Strategic Operations. I had the chance to sit down with both of them on their first day to talk about their backgrounds and why they’re excited to contribute to ASTC’s mission.
Cristin Dorgelo: Christofer, you have served in a wide variety of management and operations roles in your past, including Assistant Director for Open Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Director of Content for the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. How do you think these past roles will inform your work with ASTC?
Christofer Nelson: These positions have afforded me with a wide range of experience with which to support you, our Board of Directors, and our whole membership in strengthening the infrastructure that ASTC has to:
- Support our own staff in doing their jobs effectively and efficiently;
- Build capacity throughout the science center and museum field to expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy; and
- Help close the opportunity gap that we see in STEM skills today.
Specifically, my experience working on citizen science in my former role at OSTP has caused me to be really excited to explore ways that ASTC members can enable members of their communities to use these approaches to conduct their own science.
CD: Billie, your role is focused on supporting our board and staff through strategic operations. What experiences do you hope to draw on to support ASTC in that way?
Billie McGrane: My background working on science policy and supporting senior executives—while serving as Deputy Chief of Staff at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and working as an Executive Assistant to both President Obama’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, and Congressman Henry Waxman—lends itself well to addressing the types of specific needs that our board and you as our CEO will encounter.
CD: What are you both looking forward to this year?
BM: With our summer Board of Directors meeting coming up in Sudbury, Ontario, it will be a great opportunity to work with the board and our leadership team to better understand their ambitions for the future and the challenges we will work to overcome together as we advance global efforts around STEM learning.
CN: I’m looking forward to engaging in our listening process and hearing from our members directly so that we can begin work on a revised strategic plan. At the same time, I’m looking forward to updating our internal processes and other infrastructure.
CD: This has been a great conversation, thank you both for your thoughts. I’ll close with a final question—since our work focuses on supporting science and technology centers, what is your favorite memory from a science center?
BM: Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I have great memories of visiting The Franklin Institute as a kid, sleeping over at the museum, and waking up near the chambers of its signature giant heart!
CN: As an aspiring private pilot, my love of aviation museums as a kid (and as an adult) sparked a real interest in flying that I’m excited to be pursuing.