January 8, 2009 – The Orlando Science Center Board of Trustees has named JoAnn Newman president and chief executive officer of the Orlando Science Center, effective immediately.
The decision was made following a national search headed by Board Chair Michael Harding and the Board’s executive steering committee. The search lasted six months and generated more than 140 applicants from multiple disciplines, including executives from science centers, museums, education and the private sector. Newman has been the Science Center’s chief operating officer and was serving as the interim president since her predecessor, Dr. Brian Tonner, left office in August 2008.
“JoAnn’s demonstrated leadership over the past six years and especially over the last four months as our interim President lead us to the conclusion that she was the best person for the position. She possesses all of the critical qualities we were seeking in our new CEO: a passion for our mission of making science available to all and building the workforce of tomorrow; a technical education and work experience background; proven leadership ability; a clear vision of the potential of the Orlando Science Center and the ability and experience to be an outstanding steward of the community’s investment in the Science Center and our programs,” said Michael Harding, Chair of the Science Center’s Board of Trustees.
Newman came to the Science Center in 2003 as the Director of Exhibits and became Chief Operating Officer in 2006. During her tenure, she has led the teams responsible for implementing the original exhibits, Touch the Sky and Discover the Daytona 500, and the extremely popular Otronicon events. She was also responsible for overseeing daily operations, human resources and the overall guest experience. “JoAnn’s familiarity with the Science Center’s strengths and weaknesses and knowledge of the organization’s stakeholders in this community are a great asset. Her experience will enable her to ‘hit the ground running’,” Harding said.
Prior to joining the Science Center, Newman was Vice President of Manufacturing for Cirent Semiconductor with responsibility for 650 employees. She began her career as a development engineer with AT&T Microelectronics in Allentown, PA. Newman has a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University and a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.
In her new role, she plans to strengthen relationships with the community, encouraging greater involvement and further aligning the Orlando Science Center with the region’s needs, particularly in science education and workforce development. Through these efforts, she will strive to create greater opportunities for public and private partnerships.
“I am excited about leading the Orlando Science Center in developing a stronger strategic plan and seeing it become an essential resource for this community. Science and math education for our children is a leading concern for this region and our country as a whole. The Science Center can play an integral role in affecting change,” Newman said. “This organization moves forward thanks to the tireless efforts of a very devoted and creative team. It is now time to harness their energies under a unified plan, which will give our group greater focus and create more opportunities for impact.”
Newman takes office with the Science Center hosting a solid schedule of upcoming events for the new year, including January’s interactive technology expo Otronicon v.4, new exhibits like Grossology: The Impolite Science of the Human Body and Hatching the Past (both premiering January 31 for limited engagements), plus the March premiere of Wild Ocean on the Dr. Phillips CineDome and additions to the popular Science Park area coming in the Spring.