Orlando Science Center CEO and President JoAnn Newman has been selected as one of 2017’s CEOs of the Year by Orlando Business Journal. She was nominated by former board chair and board advisor Bob Finfrock (President of FINFROCK), and chosen out of hundreds of nominations for CEOs across all industries and backgrounds.
During JoAnn’s time as president, the Orlando Science Center has seen tremendous growth with the organization reaching more than 570,000 people in 2016 – the highest since the current facility opened in 1997.
Dedication to high quality experiences, investment in key staff, and excellent customer service have been at the core of JoAnn’s transformation of the Science Center since she became CEO. Under her leadership, the Science Center has become the most attended cultural institution in Central Florida, thanks to entrepreneurial program development, content development, educational programs that reach more than seven counties, and blockbuster traveling exhibits.
In the past 12 months, the Science Center has received two prestigious federal grants (NASA and Office of Naval Research), as well as an appropriation from the State of Florida, and was selected as a finalist for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ National Medal. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.
Under JoAnn’s guidance, Orlando Science Center has made it a priority to develop impactful STEM-based opportunities that are not only relevant but also accessible to every child, regardless of ability, gender, race or socioeconomic status. The Science Center increased accessibility to the museum by offering family memberships, summer camps and afterschool programs at reduced prices for those in need. This past year, the Science Center partnered with IMLS’s Museums for All Initiative to provide EBT cardholders admission for $3, which has impacted over 32,000 visitors since launching in January 2016.
In addition to transforming Orlando Science Center into an award-winning, essential community resource, JoAnn is the driving force behind the $30 million Unlock Science Campaign to revitalize the exhibits and programs of the Science Center. Her team has raised more than $8M and successfully completed new KidsTown — a $5 million project focused on the developmental needs of children under 7. KidsTown opened in October 2016 to great fanfare and represents the first major permanent gallery overhaul at the Science Center since the building opened in 1997.
A total of 22 highest-level local executives were chosen by Orlando Business Journal’s selection committee for demonstrating significant achievements in their careers over the past year, having a strong record of innovation, and being actively involved in our community.
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