Gillian Thomas, President & CEO
Gillian Thomas has been with the Miami Science Museum since early 2003, first as a consultant and beginning in August 2003 as President and CEO. During her four year tenure with the Museum, the Miami-Dade County Building Better Communities General Obligation Bonds were approved by voters, awarding $175 million towards the construction of the new Miami Science Museum in downtown’s Museum Park.
Before working at the Miami Science Museum, Gillian was the CEO of @Bristol, where she led the team in developing the award-winning $150 million waterfront Millennium project in the UK, which opened in 2000. With a science center, an environmental center, planetarium, IMAX, art installations and public space, this project revitalized the downtown heart of Bristol and has had a substantial economic impact on the surrounding area. Gillian was awarded a “Grant of the Dignity of an Ordinary Officer of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire” (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth in January 2000 for her work on @Bristol.
Prior to @Bristol, Gillian was the Director of Eureka! The Museum for Children in Halifax, UK. She developed its educational concept and led its design, development and construction. This won the UK “Visitor Attraction of the Year” award. As Assistant Director at the National Museum of Science and Industry in London, she was responsible for new building projects and created a series of galleries.
Gillian received a Bachelors degree in Chemistry from Oxford University, followed by a Masters in Science Education from London University. She has also acted as an international consultant on science center and museum projects for trusts, foundations and governments.
Frank Steslow, Chief Operating Officer
Miami Science Museum’s Chief Operating Officer, Frank Steslow, has over 30 years of experience as a scientist and executive manager in science-based non-profit organizations. As the Museum’s COO since 2008, he oversees overall operations for the Museum in the areas of Finance, Communications, Marketing, Exhibits, Animal Husbandry, Environmental Conservation, Public Programming and Visitor Services. Before joining the Museum, he was CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania where he led the institutions’ expansion and successful opening of a new science center.
Frank has spent the majority of his career directing the aquatic science, education, exhibition development and operations of public aquaria. He has held executive leadership positions at the Florida Aquarium and New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences including 5 years as the Academy’s COO running the day to day operations of the New Jersey State Aquarium and several satellite facilities. His previous positions have included directing water quality, pathology and animal health laboratories, animal husbandry operations, aquatic life support systems, aquatic research/conservation efforts, educational programming and exhibition development. He has been involved in the construction and startup of several new aquarium facilities and major exhibition expansions.
Frank’s research interests have included investigations into the transport and animal husbandry management of many pelagic fish species and in applied water quality management of closed seawater systems. Frank has developed several artificial seawater formulas including two that have been commercially produced and early in his career, led the aquarium industry understanding of the control and use of ozone in marine life support systems. He was responsible for leading the efforts of the successful transport and long term animal husbandry of the first blue shark in a US aquarium.
Before his career in public aquaria Frank worked as an Environmental Consultant in Pennsylvania, as an Environmental Scientist for the State of Florida and as a Biological Scientist for The National Marine Fisheries Service in the Bering Sea. Frank received a M.S. degree in Environmental Health and Science from the University of South Florida where he researched uses of ozone and U.V. light to remove pathogenic bacteria and toxins from shellfish. He also holds a B.S. degree in Microbiology from Pennsylvania State University.
Roxanne Ortiz, Chief Financial Officer
Roxanne Ortiz is responsible for financial oversight of the current Museum’s operations and the new Museum project. She has over 12 years of experience in non-profit accounting and auditing. Before joining the Museum, she worked as CFO of Easter Seals South Florida and as CFO and Chief of Staff at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Roxanne also worked as an audit manager in the non-profit group at Goldstein Schechter Koch, CPAs where she began her career.
Roxanne is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida and has a Bachelor and Master of Accounting from Florida International University.
Dr. Judy Brown, Senior Vice President, Education
Dr. Judy Brown is Senior Vice President for Education, and serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Interactive Learning, a joint venture between the Museum and the University of Miami which aims to encourage the connection between informal science education and the formal education and research community.
Dr. Brown has more than 35 years experience managing state and federally funded projects and has received many prestigious awards. She is the recipient of the 2005 Eleanor Roosevelt Award from the American Association of University Women, in recognition of her leadership in designing and implementing projects that increases girls’ participation in the sciences. She has also received the 1995 Informal Educator of the Year Award from the National Science Teachers Association. Under her leadership, the Museum has achieved national awards for its youth and teacher professional development programs, including the 2001 Institute for Museum and Library Service National Award for Museum Service.
Jennifer Gibbs, Senior Vice President of Development
Jennifer Gibbs has recently joined the Miami Science Museum as Senior Vice President of Development. Jennifer will lead the Capital Campaign project to build the $275 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, which broke ground in Downtown Miami earlier this year. She will build on the momentum ensured by major gifts from Patricia and Phillip Frost, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Jack Taylor Foundation and several board members that include Board Chairs, Trish and Dan Bell, Vice Chair, Joe Falk, and Paul and Swanee Dimare.
Before joining the Museum, Jennifer was vice president of development for WPBT2 public television station. In this position Jennifer directed major gift fundraising, on-air fundraising, corporate underwriting and membership services, generating more than $5 million in annual donations. Prior to that, she was vice president of development for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, the fourth largest Make-A-Wish chapter in the world, granting more than 500 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions annually. Jennifer was also the Associate Director of Advancement and Public Relations at the University ofMiami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
Sean Duran, Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs
Sean Duran has over 20 years of experience as an exhibition developer, designer and art director. He administers the planning and implementation of the Museum’s exhibit and public program and oversees all exhibit development, production, and evaluation. Sean also oversees the Facilities and Collections sections.
Under his leadership, the Miami Science Museum received from the National Science Foundation its most significant project grant to date. Titled Amazon Voyage: Vicious Fishes and Other Riches, Sean produced a 2.3 million dollar effort toward a national touring exhibition that explored the biodiversity of the Amazon River system. It has so far traveled to nine U.S. cities and has been seen by nearly one million visitors. Most recently he completed the exhibition, The Dinosaurs of China, a ten thousand square-foot collaborative effort with the Beijing Museum of Natural History.
Prior to joining Miami in 1999, Sean held a progressive series of positions at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia ultimately leading development teams that interpreted the research of the Academy’s Biodiversity Group. These projects included the development of significant permanent installations such as Discovering Dinosaurs: The Dig, 1998, and Butterflies, 1996; both were replicated by museums nationwide. In 1995 Duran collaborated with veteran Warner Brothers cartoon director and artist Chuck Jones to create an art and science exhibition titled Crazy Critters: The Animated Animals of Chuck Jones.
Among other projects, Duran is currently working in partnership with the New York Hall of Science on Life Changes, an exhibit and research project about evolution, funded by the National Science Foundation. Heart Smart an exhibition and research project funded by the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the University of Miami, is also currently in production. Sean is a Board Member of the National Association of Museum Exhibitors.
Tony Lima, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Sales
Tony Lima is a seasoned, bilingual, marketing and communications professional with more than 14 years experience in crafting and executing programs that combine advertising, social marketing, media relations, new/social media, corporate communications, guerilla and event marketing, public affairs and community relations.
Tony leads the Miami Science Museum’s marketing, communications and sales efforts. In addition, he directs all marketing and communications efforts for the museum’s new building at Museum Park. He is also the founder of and manages the Miami Science Museum Young Patrons, the museum’s young professional initiative, as well as Miami Science Museum’s community ambassador groups including the MiaSci Moms, the Teen Ambassadors and most recently, a teacher’s initiative. Tony also oversees all museum sales, which include special events, groups and facility rentals.
Before joining the Miami Science Museum, Tony was Account Group Supervisor for GolinHarris, where he led the Miami office’s consumer brands practice and the agency’s Hispanic capabilities practice at a national level. He led successful marketing campaigns for CVS/Pharmacy, Levi’s, Staples, and Toyota, among others. Tony was also instrumental in the opening of blockbuster exhibits like Titanic: the Artifact Exhibition for the Miami Science Museum and the national tour of the King Tut and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs. Additionally, Tony held marketing posts with Northern Trust Bank and the Performing Arts Center Foundation.
Tony has a Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Florida State University and has completed Masters of Science coursework in Integrated Communications at Florida International University. In 2011, Tony was selected to be a Fellow with the Miami Foundation for a Greater Miami, serving to bring higher visibility to the museum and our new museum project, the future Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.
Brooks Weisblat, Vice President of Technology
Brooks Weisblat has been with the Miami Science Museum for 15 years and currently manages the Museum’s technology infrastructure, website development projects and leads technology research and planning to keep the Museum’s technology current, efficient and within budget.
Prior to working for the Museum, Brooks worked for The Florida State University and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University teaching Biology and Computer classes as well as managing computer labs and audio/visual installations.
In the local community Brooks is a Leadership Miami Graduate, has assisted Kristi House and Junior League of Miami with their website and technology needs as well as served on the Technology Advisory Board for Keiser College.
Brooks has Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from The Florida State University in Tallassee, FL and also did Post graduate studies in Viral Immunology at University of Miami in Miami, Florida.
Jennifer Santer, Vice President, Content Development & Programs
Jennifer Santer is responsible for developing content and approaches consistent with the Museum’s mission, vision and values, and for overseeing content delivery through Public Programs. In this capacity, she works with other key staff to develop and test new content and delivery approaches, using the current facility as a platform for experimentation. Before joining the new Museum team, Ms. Santer spent eight years securing funding and managing the Museum’s award-winning federally funded education programs.
Prior to joining the Miami Science Museum in 1999, Jennifer worked for ten years as an international development specialist for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), a consulting firm based in Washington D.C. At DAI, she was responsible for designing and managing multi-year economic assistance projects throughout Africa, Asia, and the former Soviet Union, with an emphasis on micro-enterprise, small business development, gender issues, and information dissemination. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Geography/International Development from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management from San Diego State University.
Carolyn Ruth Robinson, Senior Director of Development
Ruth has worked as part of the Museum family for ten years. Beginning as a part time Summer Camp Registrar while completing her studies, she has remained with the Museum assuming additional responsibilities in the area of Development.
In 2003 she worked with current Board Chairs Trish and Dan Bell in launching the Museum’s annual gala, which remains the Museum’s most significant annual fundraising event.
Prior to joining the Museum team in 1999, Ruth worked in the private sector operating a successful retail business with sales in Latin America and the Caribbean. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Business Administration from Florida International University.