The ASTC Senior Leaders Summit on June 15 and June 17, 2021 will take an optimistic and realistic look at the future of science and technology centers and museums, as well as the broader science learning and science engagement ecosystems. Summit participants will share real-time approaches to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and engage in strategic visioning toward building stronger and more resilient institutions. Whether you are working to reopen your institutions’ doors or looking to re-envision your strategies for the future, there will be presentations and discussions for you. View the agenda below.


June 15, 2021 | Day One: Envisioning a New Future for Science and Technology Centers and Museums

11:00 AM EDT Opening Remarks

  • Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute, and Chair of the ASTC Board of Directors
  • Catherine Horne, President and CEO of Discovery Place, and Co-Chair of the ASTC COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force
  • Steve Snyder, President and CEO of The Fleet Science Center, and Co-Chair of the ASTC COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

11:15 AM EDT Featured Remarks + Q&A: Leadership in a Time of Industry and Institutional Transition

  • DJ Patil, Technology Executive ; Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist

11:50 AM EDT Break and Transition

12:00 PM EDT  Session 1: Recovery and Re-envisioning

An exploration of how ASTC member institutions are approaching the key strategic components of post-pandemic recovery and re-envisioning their work going forward. The session will be kicked-off with framing remarks followed by small-group breakout sessions for all participants to share their approaches and support each other in the strategies they are implementing.

  • Denise Young, Executive Director, Bell Museum, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Jane Werner, President and CEO, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1:15 PM EDT Break

1:45 PM EDT  Session 2: New Strategies and Business Models

An exploration of the tactical ways ASTC members are implementing new strategies, experimenting with new business models, and making operational shifts as they recover from the pandemic. Following the framing, leaders will break out into topical groups to explore specific questions that were raised in the pre-event surveys.

  • Lindy Hoyer, Executive Director, Omaha Children’s Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Michelle Larson, President & CEO, Adler Planetarium, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tara MacDougall, President and CEO, Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

3:00 PM EDT Closing Remarks and Preparation for Day Two

3:30 PM EDT Break

4:30 PM EDT Optional Happy Hour

June 17, 2021 | Day Two: Sharing What is Working and Where We Go From Here

11:00 AM EDT Welcome Remarks

  • William Harris, President and CEO of Space Center Houston, and Chair-Elect of the ASTC Board of Directors

11:15 AM EDT Session 3Rapid sharing—What we will continue?

Short presentations from ASTC-member senior leaders sharing stories and evidence of what worked—and what didn’t—during the pandemic that they plan to continue into the future as their institutions reopen to the public. 

  • Andy Bell, CEO, Thinkery, Austin, TX
  • Ann Fortescue, President & Executive Director, International Museum of Art & Science, McAllen, Texas
  • Mary Anne Moser, CEO, Telus Spark Science Centre, Calgary, Alberta
  • Tim Ritchie, President and CEO, Museum of Science, Boston
  • Jose Santamaria Executive Director, Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, Georgia
  • Katrina Stevens, President and CEO, The Tech Interactive

12:30 PM EDT Break

1:00 PM EDT Session 4, Part 1Transformative Leadership

This discussion-centered session will focus on topics sourced from the participant responses on the concrete tactics we are using and the challenges we are facing in pushing ourselves, our teams, and our boards to be willing to stop what is not working, without losing what is working, and being willing to try new experiments and fail. 

2:00 PM EDT Break

2:15 PM EDT Session 4, Part 2: Transformative Leadership and What Comes Next

After a short break, groups will have an opportunity to continue their discussions.

3:00 PM EDT Closing Remarks

3:30 PM EDT Adjourn 

More About the Summit

ASTC’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force has led this summit’s agenda design, with input from the ASTC Board of Directors and fellow chief executives of science centers and science museums have crafted two days of thought-provoking presentations and critical discussions.  

Both days of the summit will speak to these themes. Each day will be divided into several 60–90-minute sessions that focus on key strategies and a specific topic of discussion, which will be further refined through participant input. Breakout groups will be organized based on shared questions and common institutional challenges. 

ASTC has designed the summit around an exploration of the themes emerging from the experiences of the last year, from the practical need to build greater financial resilience into our business models to the strategic opportunities to meet community needs in new ways and on a range of fronts, including rebuilding public trust in science, addressing racial justice, and creating STEM opportunities for all. 

The Summit is open to all chief executives of ASTC science center and museum members in good standing. Chief executives may extend an invitation to one guest who is either a member of their institution’s board or senior leadership team.

Broadly, participants in this summit will explore where the science and technology center and museum field is currently and where it is headed. By surfacing what is working, recognizing where challenges persist, and facilitating meaningful exchange of ideas, ASTC aims to identify new opportunities for ongoing collaboration and collective action by ASTC members to strengthen our field as a whole. 

At an individual level, the summit will provide senior leaders of science and technology centers and museums with: 

  • Personal support, development, and enrichment through shared learning, in-depth discussions, and strengthened connections with peers 
  • Leadership strategies for revitalizing your strategy and leading your team through ongoing challenges and in new directions 
  • Institutional approaches to making difficult changes and creating the organizational and operational structures that support both short-term recovery and long-term resilience  
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