Sakurako and William Fisher Executive Director
Chris Flink has always found the Exploratorium phenomenally inspiring. He was honored to become its Executive Director in the summer of 2016 and has been enthusiastically leading the pioneering institution into its next half-century. Chris is responsible for expanding the Exploratorium’s impact by elevating our renowned visitor experience, expanding our world-class teacher professional development programs, and amplifying our influential Global Collaborations portfolio. With his leadership, the Exploratorium’s talented interdisciplinary community remains committed to relentless innovation and is actively reimagining what it may mean to be a science center in these dynamic times. Chris brings 25 years' experience spanning creative leadership, product engineering, business strategy, hands-on education, and the design of engaging experiences. Chris was a senior partner at IDEO for 19 years and a founding faculty member of Stanford University’s d.school, where he served for over a decade as a consulting associate professor. He has presented at TEDx and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Chris holds a BS in engineering/product design from Stanford University and an MS in management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has served on the boards of Fortune 500 companies and lived in a vibrant undergraduate dorm (remarkably, at the same time). Chris has two extraordinary daughters who relish the Tactile Dome and from whom he learns the most important things.
Chief Science Officer and
Senior Director of Educator Engagement
Rob Semper joined the Exploratorium in 1977. Over the years he has had a career developing exhibits and exhibitions onsite and worldwide, creating teacher education programs, producing publications, films, online media and communication programs, expanding the informal science education field and leading major initiatives including the recent relocation of the institution to Pier 15/17. Currently as Chief Science Officer, Rob provides strategy and oversight to the science and science education work of the Exploratorium and represents the Exploratorium to the broader world of science, science centers, and STEM education. As Senior Director of Educator Engagement, Rob is also responsible for developing and leading the institutional strategy for educator learning programs. Rob is the author of many journal articles and invited papers and conference talks, and he has been Principal Investigator on over 50 federally and privately funded projects that include developing new online and media resources, experiments using technology to enhance the museum visitor experience, and programs for teachers and museum educators. In 2018, Rob was selected as a member of the Federal STEM Education Advisory Panel, which meets twice a year to evaluate and offer guidance on the federal government’s strategic plan for STEM education. Awards include APS Fellow 2019; AAAS Fellow, 2006; and the NSTA 2006 Faraday Science Communicator Award. Before joining the Exploratorium, Rob taught physics and conducted solid state, elementary particle and nuclear physics research. He received his PhD in solid-state physics from the Johns Hopkins University.
Blair Richard Winn
Senior Director of Institutional Advancement
Blair joined the Exploratorium staff as the Director of Special Projects for Institutional Advancement in 2015. In his current role, Blair is responsible for facilitating all contributed income strategies supporting the museum’s programs and operations. He also oversees the capital campaign and related planning and outreach. Prior to joining the Exploratorium, Blair was the Director of Advancement for Illuminate the Arts where he completed the fundraising necessary to ensure that Leo Villareal’s light sculpture, The Bay Lights, was reinstalled permanently on the San Francisco Bay Bridge. He has more than 20 years of for-profit and not-for-profit arts management and fundraising experience in New York City and the Bay Area. Blair served as the Deputy Director of Development and Director of Development at SFMOMA, and as the Associate Director and Development Director of Headlands Center for the Arts, an international artist residency program in the Marin Headlands. A native of San Francisco, Blair also served as Development Director for the New Museum of Contemporary Art and The Drawing Center, both in New York City. He has a BA in art history from San Francisco State University and an MA in nonprofit administration from New York University.
Senior Business Director of Global Collaborations
Silva Raker joined the Exploratorium in August 2010. An accomplished business development executive and trained scientist, Silva has successfully grown vibrant, mission-based companies in specialty retail and travel. After graduating with a BA in zoology followed by field studies in California and Cameroon, Silva joined The Nature Company where she spent ten years developing proprietary products, innovative programs, and fruitful partnerships. More recently, as the COO and leading strategist for Backroads, Silva managed a complex global operation while developing both new and existing business segments—including the Family Travel Program with natural history and cultural exploration for kids on five continents. Silva and the business development team are charged with growing earned income while extending the impact of the Exploratorium through our museum consultancy, exhibit services, licensing, retail stores, restaurant concession, event rentals, sponsorships, and more.
Senior Creative Director of Global Collaborations
Tom Rockwell is a Creative Director at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s museum of science, art, and human perception. Since joining the Exploratorium in 2005, Tom has led the exhibits and media departments, the development of new galleries for the museum's move to the waterfront in 2013, as well as the Geometry Playground exhibition and other National Science Foundation supported projects. His interests include exhibiting the human sciences, mathematics, and fundamental physical phenomena, as well as exploring the relationship between science, art, and religion. Prior to coming to San Francisco Tom founded and ran Painted Universe, Inc. where projects included exhibitions such as It’s a Nano World, The Enchanted Museum: Exploring the Science of Art, and illustrations for The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.
Senior Director of Organizational Development
Anne Jennings became Director of Organizational Development in 2015, after holding positions in almost every area of the organization—from teacher education to the exhibit environment and project and program management—since she started making exhibit videos as a volunteer in 1985. She took an 11-year break to found and direct the East Bay nonprofit Community Resources for Science, and then “boomeranged” back in 2009 to manage the move of exhibits and galleries from the Palace of Fine Arts to the Piers. She currently directs the efforts of the Human Resources team, Volunteer Engagement, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, and Internal Communications/Learning Exchange. Anne holds a BA from Brown University and an MA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Director of Information Technology
Chris Axley came to the Bay Area in 1995, and his first job on arriving was a fixed-term position at the Exploratorium for the Multimedia Playground ’95 exhibition. This initial stint at the museum turned into a career in information technology, including positions such as Digital Media Developer, Educator, and IT Manager for various companies. He returned to the Exploratorium's IT department early in the new century and worked in multiple positions before becoming Director of Information Technology. Along the way, he built an adaptable, service-minded department that utilizes good planning and efficient use of technology to increase the effectiveness of the Exploratorium community. He also led the effort to design, build, and move the Exploratorium’s IT infrastructure to Piers 15 and 17. Chris has a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Senior Director of Visitor Experience
Robyn Higdon has worked at the Exploratorium for over 30 years. She’s currently the Senior Director of Visitor Experience, which includes the Public Space, Tactile Dome, Field Trip Program, High School Explainer Program, Public Programs, and Moving Images. Robyn has been a Co-Principal Investigator on NSF, NOAA, and NASA projects, including the Total Solar Eclipse: Stories from the Path of Totality, and NOAA’s Scientific Residency program. She has received several Webby and MUSE awards for her work. On the weekends, she is working on an off-the-grid cabin in the Gold Country.
Senior Director of Marketing
Julie is responsible for developing comprehensive, integrated expressions of the Exploratorium’s brand. She strategizes and creates marketing plans and campaigns that maximize the museum’s presence locally and globally. She developed marketing campaigns for the Science of Sharing; Strandbeest; Inflatables; Self, Made; and After Dark. Julie also manages a communications department, which includes social media and digital marketing, and oversees Visitor Services operations, including retail, ticketing reservations, and membership marketing and sales. Julie has developed business models and worked with local publishers on Exploratorium publications including The Art of Tinkering, Seeing, and The Art of Curiosity. Prior to joining the Exploratorium in 2010, Julie’s professional experience included Hasbro, the DaMert Company, The Nature Company, and Gap Inc. She holds a BA in philosophy from Sarah Lawrence College and an MBA in sustainable enterprise from Dominican University of California. Abbey, her beloved Hurricane Katrina rescue hound dog, is never far from her side.