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Ogden native Hillary Olson to lead RMSC.

Byline: Velvet Spicer

An Ogden native, whose first trip to the Rochester Museum and Science Center was so impactful that she went on to earn a degree in space sciences, has been selected as RMSC's next president and CEO.

When Hillary Olson was 11 years old, her elementary school class took a field trip to the Strasenburgh Planetarium. The trip changed her life, Olson said, because she became fixated on the size and scale of the solar system.

"It was an obsession. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I earned a degree in space sciences and I still don't fully grasp the scale of our universe, but I've spent each day since that field trip thinking about it," Olson said.

Olson brings to the role more than 24 years of experience working at science museums and informal learning institutions across the U.S. Most recently she served as vice president of audience and community engagement at the Milwaukee Public Museum, a natural and cultural history museum that includes the largest planetarium in the state.

"Hillary brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record in leadership, strategic action and program development that will benefit the RMSC as it looks to the future," RMSC Chairman Tom Mitchell said. "When we embarked on this search we identified the ability to leverage the institution's many assets to promote audience development and revenue growth, and the ability to create and sustain community partnerships, as essential leadership skills for this role. We are confident we have found that person in Hillary."

Olson takes the helm from long-time President and CEO Kate Bennett. Olson and Bennett will work together in the coming months as Bennett transitions to special fundraising projects for the museum. Olson will begin at RMSC in November.

"I am humbled and honored to take the helm from such an impactful, dynamic and beloved leader," Olson said. "For the past two decades, Kate has guided RMSC to the vital role it holds today as a resource for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and lifelong learning for the entire region. I look forward to continuing that work and finding new opportunities to make RMSC accessible to the communities it serves."

Prior to joining MPM, Olson held leadership positions at the Franklin Institute Science Museum, the Long Island Children's Museum, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the Griffith Observatory. She holds a B.S. in earth and space sciences from Stony Brook University, an M.S.Ed. in museum leadership from Bank Street College in Manhattan and was a 2016 Fellow at the Getty Leadership Institute.

"Connecting museum and nature center visitors of all ages to the wonders of exploration in science, natural history and our shared cultural backgrounds is my passion," Olson said. "Everyone has something to learn at RMSC, the Strasenburgh Planetarium and the Cumming Nature Center. I'm excited to be coming back home and to make a difference in the place that first inspired me." / 585-653-4021

Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

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Publication:Rochester Business Journal
Date:Sep 27, 2018
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