Behind the Scenes: What does a Children's Museum Executive Director Do?
Meet our hard-working highly energetic fearless leader – Amarinda Keys! She’s been with the museum for seven years and planning the new museum for five of them! Amarinda has worked to balance the museum’s budget, pull the organization out of debt, and increase museum attendance and program offerings. In 2016 she began working to relocate the organization to Waterville. In 2015, Amarinda was chosen as an example of exceptional teaching by the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, she was the Central Maine Growth Council’s 2017 Emerging Leader, and she was selected as one of the “Millennials Investing in Mid-Maine Project” developed by Central Maine Growth Council.
When she’s not running CDM’s programs, our capital campaign or meeting with all of the community members helping us out, she loves trying new recipes, growing veggies in her garden, spending time at the lake reading, and she’s a big fan of celebrating holidays – no matter how obscure! She recently slowed down to tell us a little more about herself.
Children’s Discovery Museum: How would you describe your job to a 5-year-old?
Amarinda: I am in charge of making sure that the new children’s museum is created! I get to look at design plans, talk with builders and architects, talk with people from other organizations in the community, and meet with people who want to help us build the new exhibits. And at the same time, I also get to plan and run programs for children and families to enjoy!
CDM: What did you want to be when you grew up?
AK: I wanted to be a teacher. I always loved spending time with children and my parents were also teachers. While I don’t do much teaching now as the Director, I still get to run educational programs here and there.
CDM: Where did you grow up?
AK: I grew up in Southern Maine in an old farm-house with a big backyard and a vernal pool which was a frog pond in the spring and turned into an ice rink in the winter!
CDM: How did you start working for the Children’s Discovery Museum?
AK: When I was in college I used to volunteer at the museum, helping with special events and then running my own Hands-On Science program on Friday mornings. When I graduated, they offered me a job as the Assistant Director and less than a year later, I stepped into the Executive Director role.
CDM: What has it been like creating a new museum from scratch?
AK: It has been much more work than I realized going in! It is amazing just how many people are involved in the project. We have board members, donors, families, staff, architects, community members, etc. We’ve built quite the team! When we first dreamed of a bigger, bolder museum, I had no idea how long it would take, but I am thankful that we kept going. It’s going to be worth the wait!
CDM: What’s your favorite part of your job?
AK: I love meeting new people and finding opportunities for partnerships. Grabbing coffee with like-minded individuals in the community was something I especially missed doing last year!
CDM: What is your vision for the new museum?
AK: I hope the new museum is a space where everyone feels welcome, encouraged and inspired. When people first walk in, I hope they immediately feel excited to play.