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 three 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 launched significant new initiatives that leverage the Science Museum’s relationships and rich assets. 2018’s Year of the Engineer put the possibilities and potential of engineering careers in the spotlight. Water Planet is a cross-divisional project devoted to finding sustainable water solutions for more people through exhibits, research initiatives, and public programs. And in 2018, Brown led the museum to the adoption of a Statement on Equity and Inclusion that captures the museum’s vision to use STEM as a tool to advocate for justice and equity. One of the first of its kind for a science center in its boldness and honesty, the statement acknowledges that significant change must start from within.

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.

Mark Dahlager - Vice President of Museum Experiences

Mark Dahlager

As Vice President of Museum Experiences, Mark Dahlager leads an innovative area of the museum responsible for exhibits and William L. McKnight-3M Omnitheater offerings that visitors enjoy, as well as planning program themes and experiences that make the museum such an exciting destination. Mark also oversees the Touring Exhibits and Exhibit Sales areas that connect the Science Museum to other institutions around the country, and the globe.

He brings more than 30 years of experience in exhibit development/design and production, and decades of success in project management, strategic thinking, and collaboration. His focus for SMM’s future is to continue to create opportunities for all persons to engage in, learn about, and do science through unique offerings at the Museum.

Some of the recent exhibits that Mark led include Mind Matters, Sportsology, Theatrical Gaming, MAYA: Hidden Worlds Revealed and Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience here at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the California Science Center are examples of projects Mark led across the country. SMM is currently working internationally with The Scientific Center of Kuwait.

Juliette Francis - Vice President of People and Museum Culture

Juliette Francis

Juliette leads the museum’s overall strategy for visitor relations, human resources, volunteer services, and evaluation and research. In this role, she has changed the function, culture, and impact of people across the museum to support its business goals and strategies and to address the needs and aspirations of its more than 550 paid staff and 800 volunteers. She works with leaders across the museum's many lines of business to build and manage a people-centric organization that reflects and supports their dynamic needs.

Juliette joined the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2013 after spending more than 15 years in leadership positions for College Possible, Girl Scout Council of River Valleys, and Fury Motors. She has led teams focused on developing and implementing strategies that drove organizational results, created a positive work environment and experience, and increased levels of engagement. Her areas of expertise include organizational design and cultural development, diversity and inclusion, strategic leadership, workforce planning, compensation and benefits, and risk management.

Francis has a bachelor in Human Resources Development from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Society of Human Resources Management - Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She has served on the boards of Neighbors, Inc., Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, South St. Paul Jaycees, and an advisor to the Inver Hills Community College - Business Program.

Barry Gisser - Chief Financial Officer

Barry Gisser

As Chief Financial Officer, Barry Gisser leads the Finance & Accounting, Technology & Digital, Building Operations, and Risk Management teams in 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, 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) and represents the Museum as a founding member of the St. Paul Downtown Alliance.

Joanne Jones-Rizzi - Vice President of Science, Equity, and Education

Joanne Jones-Rizzi

Joanne Jones-Rizzi currently serves as the Vice President of Science, Equity, and Education at the Science Museum of Minnesota, where she leads the Science Museum’s science and education initiatives, ensuring that they achieve maximum impact and are equitably accessible for all audiences. However, her career at the Science Museum is long and accomplished.

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. She advises museums nationally and internationally on culture, identity, anti-racism, exhibition development, and community engagement.

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 has also written or co-written several books and 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 the 2018 Inclusion Award from the American Alliance of Museums, and a Facing Race Ambassador Award from the Saint Paul Foundation in 2016.

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 strategic planning, 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 nonprofit 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 Nonprofit Management Leadership certificate from the University of Saint Thomas. She has served on several boards, including 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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