Meet Our Leaders

Alison Brown - President and CEO

Alison Brown

Alison Rempel Brown joined the Science Museum of Minnesota as its 16th president and CEO in May 2016, bringing with her a firm investment in the museum’s mission of science education and equity and a commitment to build strategic partnerships to expand its impact. She envisions the museum as an organization that shows all the people it touches through its programs in all 87 Minnesota counties – especially girls and youth of color – that there is a place for them in science.

In the first two years under Brown’s leadership, the Science Museum adopted a new strategic plan that  focuses on the future of museums and their role in society – not only as places for fact-finding and fun, but also as places that prepare the next generation of learners for an increasingly science-rich workforce. The plan positions the Science Museum of Minnesota as a place where visitors can turn for information and have important conversations about critical issues of our time – from race to mental health to climate change.

Together with a new senior leadership team, Brown has launched significant new initiatives that leverage the Science Museum’s relationships and rich assets: 2018’s Year of the Engineer shines a spotlight on the possibilities and potential of engineering careers; and Water Planet, a project devoted to finding sustainable water solutions for more people through exhibits, research initiatives, and public programs.

Before joining the Science Museum of Minnesota, Brown served as Chief of Staff at the California Academy of Sciences, where she oversaw infrastructure and operations, ensuring the Academy’s resources were managed wisely and the organization remained healthy and forward-looking. During her tenure, the Academy undertook a massive rebuilding project. Brown facilitated the creation of a shared vision for staff that led to one of the highest-rated museum visitor experiences in the nation.

Brown is an active member of the Board of Trustees for Pomona College. She received her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where her area of concentration was nonprofit and government organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, with an emphasis in mathematics, from Pomona College.

Mike Day - Executive Vice President

Mike Day

Mike Day has enjoyed a 35-year career in public program administration and museums. After earning a finance degree from the University of Illinois, Day was awarded a New York State Arts Council grant to study museum management in Rochester, New York. He went on to the Cleveland Board of Education, from which he was recruited to Saint Paul to join the Science Museum.

Mike Day was responsible for bringing the Body Worlds exhibition to the museum in the summer of 2006, A Day in Pompeii in 2007, Titanic in 2009, The Dead Sea Scrolls in 2010, and King Tut in 2011. He has traveled the world as an executive producer of giant screen films for the museum’s William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater. He and his film teams spent seven years chasing volcanoes around the Pacific Basin for Ring of Fire and journeyed to the shores of Lake Tanganyika to produce a giant screen film featuring the life’s work of Dr. Jane Goodall. Most recently he was the executive producer for National Parks Adventure, which made its debut in the William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater on March 4, 2016.

Day currently serves as chair of the board of directors of the Giant Dome Theater Consortium, the consortium of seven U.S. science museums housing giant dome theaters. He also is serving as a member of the Citizens League community committee to study a PILOT program in the City of Saint Paul. He is a past president of the Giant Screen Cinema Association, a former board member of the Association of Midwest Museums, and a former treasurer and executive committee member of the Saint Paul Convention and Visitor Authority.

Mark Dahlager - Vice President of Exhibits

Mark Dahlager

Mark Dahlager joins the Science Museum of Minnesota’s senior leadership team as Vice President of Exhibits, leading the team that specializes in the development, design, and production of exhibit programs for our own museum and museums around the country. He brings more than 20 years of experience in exhibit development/design and production to his new position, as well as decades of success in project management, strategic thinking, and collaboration.

As the Science Museum’s Director of Exhibits, Dahlager led the design and development of many notable projects, including California Science Center’s Ecosystems; the Perot Museum of Nature and Science; Conner Prairie History Park’s Create. Connect; MAYA: Hidden Worlds RevealedSpace: An Out-of-Gravity ExperienceLost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science; and Sportsology. In this role, Dahlager worked closely with the museum’s Development, Research and Evaluation, Community Engagement, and Science Programs teams to deliver consistently exceptional exhibit products.

In addition to his exhibits experience, Mark has an extensive background in biology and natural science. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Colorado, and he has completed coursework towards a Master’s Degree in Biology and Plant Ecology from St. Cloud State University. He has worked as a naturalist at several local nature centers.

Laurie Fink - Vice President of Science

Laurie Fink

As Vice President of Science, Laurie Fink brings her scientific training, museum experience, and passion for making science accessible and relevant to her work. Fink leads the museum’s nationally recognized research and collections staff, as well as its museum-wide initiative about water that includes both research and outreach to the public.

Fink joined the Science Museum of Minnesota as a health science liaison in 2001. Since then, she has held multiple exhibit development, science, and leadership positions. She has served as the Principal Investigator on several National Institutes of Healthand National Science Foundation-funded projects. Fink led the development of several exhibits, including Tissues of Life, Cell Lab, Disease Detectives, Wonder Years, Weighing the Evidence, and We Move and We Stay. She consulted on The Tech Museum of Innovation’s DNA Lab and led the Science Museum’s efforts in its development of Biology Base Camp at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Since 2007, Fink has led the museum’s Science Programs Group. In this role, she worked to bring the Science Museum’s scientists closer to its audiences.

Laurie Fink holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota. She has been a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance. She is a regular presenter at international museum conferences, is involved in a national discussion around the future of museum collections, and is exploring ways to incorporate Citizen Science into the museum.

Juliette Francis - Vice President of Human Resources

Juliette Francis

Juliette Francis joined the Science Museum’s senior leadership team in November 2013. She brings experience in employee relations, workforce planning, compensation and benefit management, and training and development to her position overseeing the museum’s service to both its paid staff and its expansive volunteer corps.

Juliette comes to the Science Museum from College Possible, a national nonprofit headquartered in Saint Paul that provides low-income students with an intensive curriculum of coaching and support to help them earn college admission and college degrees. As Director of Human Resources and Operations, Francis oversaw the organization’s HR, new site operations, and technology functions. Her professional experience also includes human resources work at Girls Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys and Fury Motors.

Juliette has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She has been actively involved in the Saint Paul Winter Carnival for more than 13 years, and she sits on the Business Programs Advisory Board at Inver Hills Community College.

Barry Gisser - Chief Financial Officer

Barry Gisser

As Chief Financial Officer, Barry Gisser leads the Finance & Accounting, IT, and Risk Management teams in supporting and advancing the Science Museum’s mission to inspire learning, inform policy, and improve lives. He joined the museum in 2017 after spending more than 25 years in leadership positions at both publicly and privately held firms including Procter & Gamble, Ecolab, and ConAgra Foods. Barry’s areas of expertise include finance and accounting, mergers and acquisitions, enterprise growth strategies, general management, organizational development, and change management.

Gisser is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) with a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and an MBA from The Kenan Flagler School at The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Barry currently serves on the Board of Directors for Twin Cities In Motion and the James J. Hill Center. He also serves as a judge for MN Cup, the largest statewide start-up competition in the country.

Joe Imholte - Vice President of Visitor Experience

Joe Imholte

As the Vice President of Visitor Experience, Joe Imholte provides strategic leadership to ensure that the Science Museum is a premier destination for all visitors. Joe has worked at the Science Museum—the museum he grew up loving—for his entire 24-year museum career. Joe started as a part-time visitor assistant and worked his way through a variety of visitor-facing and strategic-thinking positions, including Exhibit Operations Manager, Project Leader, and Program Director. Imholte has led several major exhibition projects at the Science Museum of Minnesota, including A Day in Pompeii (2007) and The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World (2010).

Imholte has a degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Hamline University in Saint Paul. He is a graduate of the Noyce Leadership Institute and serves on the Board of Directors for Theater in the Round, the longest running theater in Minneapolis. He is the Fundraising Chair for the National Association for Museum Exhibition (a professional network of the American Alliance of Museums) and is a Committee Member for the International Association of Amusement Parks at Attractions’ Science Centers and Museums Committee. He is a trained racial justice facilitator and serves as an accreditation peer reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums.

Joanne Jones-Rizzi - Vice President of STEM Equity and Education

Joanne Jones-Rizzi

Joanne Jones-Rizzi joins the senior leadership team as Vice President of STEM Equity and Education; however, her career at the Science Museum is long and accomplished. In her new role, she will lead the Science Museum’s education initiatives, ensuring that they achieve maximum impact and are equitably accessible for all audiences.

Jones-Rizzi has a decades-long career working on systemic, ecological change within museums, specializing in expanding meaningful access through exhibitions relevant to audiences who do not yet think of museums as their cultural institutions. In her previous role as Director of Community Engagement at the Science Museum of Minnesota, she led a group that is committed to being intentional about defining community and creating approaches that advocate equitable access, reciprocity, meaningful participation, and cultural relevance to a broad range of communities. Before coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota, Jones-Rizzi was an exhibit developer and cultural program director at the Boston Children’s Museum, where she led an initiative that addressed the institution-wide politics of inclusiveness, ranging the full spectrum from community partners to the museum’s board of trustees. She is the co-author of Opening the Museum, a book that reflected on this process. She has also written numerous articles exploring ideas related to identity, race, and community.

Jones-Rizzi is the co-creator and concept developer of several award-winning exhibitions, including The Kid’s Bridge (Boston Children’s Museum, 1990), The Kid’s Bridge (Smithsonian Institution, 1992), Boston Black: A City Connects (Boston Children’s Museum, 2004), and RACE: Are We So Different? (Science Museum of Minnesota, 2007 with a national tour through 2015). She is the recipient of several awards for her anti-racism work, including a Facing Race Ambassador Award from the Saint Paul Foundation in 2016. She advises museums nationally and internationally on culture, identity, anti-racism, exhibition development, and community engagement.

Mimi Daly Larson - Vice President of Mission Advancement

Mimi Daly Larson

Mimi leads the Marketing, Public Relations, Development, Membership and Government Relations efforts to support and advance the Science Museum’s mission to inspire learning, inform policy, and improve lives. Her career spans 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, fundraising, marketing, and public policy programs; with special expertise in organizational development, change management and growth initiatives. Prior to joining the Science Museum in December of 2016, she served as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Development & Public Policy at Scholarship America, a national non-profit with more than 1,000 local chapters focused on higher education financing support. While there she created an organization-wide brand strategy and marketing plan, new strategic development plan, corporate sponsorship program, and launched the organization’s public policy agenda and advocacy program. Before that, Larson was the Vice President of Marketing at the Greater Twin Cities United Way. 

Larson is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) with a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College and a mini-MBA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of Saint Thomas. She has served on the boards of the Catholic Community Foundation and Visitation School and is a graduate of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Saint Paul program.

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