Meet Our Leaders | Science Museum of Minnesota

Meet Our Leaders

Alison Brown - President and CEO

Alison Brown

Alison Brown joined the Science Museum of Minnesota as its 16th president in May 2016.

Brown comes to the Science Museum from the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco’s largest cultural attraction, where she served as the Chief of Staff, and before that, Chief Financial Officer. She oversaw infrastructure and operations, ensuring that the Academy’s resources were managed wisely and that the organization remained healthy and forward-looking. As a member of the Academy’s senior leadership team, Brown helped lead the organization through the transition to a temporary facility, an extensive rebuilding project, the return to a new building in Golden Gate Park, and the launch of a spectacular new facility. After re-opening, she facilitated the creation of a shared vision for staff that led to one of the highest rated museum visitor experiences nationally, an engaging public floor, and expanded resources for education and science.

Before joining the Academy in 1999, Brown served as Chief Financial Officer of StayWell, a $100 million sales patient education publishing firm previously owned by Times Mirror. She also spent nine years with the Blood Centers of the Pacific, based in San Francisco, as Treasurer and Director of Finance & Information Systems during the period when the AIDS crisis hit blood centers around the world. Before that, she was a Senior Consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co.

Brown is an active member of the Board of Trustees for Pomona College, Claremont Colleges. 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

Barry comes to the Science Museum of Minnesota with more than 25 years’ experience, focused primarily in the consumer products industry with leadership positions at both publicly and privately held firms. Barry’s areas of expertise include Board-level governance, enterprise growth strategies, general management, finance and accounting, organizational development and leadership, mergers and acquisitions, and change management.

For the past five years, he was the Managing Partner at Marathon Investment Group. He also held leadership positions at Bellisio Foods, ConAgra Foods, Ecolab, and Procter & Gamble. Barry currently serves on the Board of Directors for Twin Cities In Motion and the James J. Hill Center.

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 Education and STEM Equity

Joanne Jones-Rizzi

Joanne Jones-Rizzi joins the senior leadership team as Vice President of Education and STEM Equity; 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 awarding 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

As Vice President of Mission Advancement, Mimi Daly Larson heads the team that engages companies, foundations, community partners, government partners, and donors in opportunities to support and advance the Science Museum’s mission to inspire learning, inform policy, and improve lives. She joined the senior leadership team in November 2016.

Larson brings 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, fundraising, and marketing to the Science Museum. Most recently, she served as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Development & Public Policy at Scholarship America, where she created an organization-wide brand strategy and marketing plan. She also created a new strategic development plan, a corporate partnership 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.