Chief Science Officer and Interim Executive Director
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.
Rob Semper's CV
Laura R. Zander
Chief Financial Officer
Laura Zander joined the Exploratorium in 2007. She is responsible for managing the Finance and Accounting, Information Technology, and Campus Facilities groups as well as our Real Estate activities and relationship with the Port of San Francisco. Laura spent the early part of her career in commercial banking and project finance with a specific focus on Latin America at three large financial institutions in New York. She moved to San Francisco in 1999 to get involved in high technology. Laura worked as a CFO to start-up and midsized Internet and high-technology companies in the Bay Area. In 2003, she moved into the not-for-profit sector as Chief Financial and Operating Officer for the Peninsula Jewish Community Center, where she was involved in its large construction and relocation project. Laura holds a BA from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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 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.
Senior Director of Educator Engagement
Jessica Parker joined the Exploratorium in 2017 and is responsible for developing and leading the institutional strategy for educator learning programs. In her previous role as the Director of Teaching and Learning, she oversaw the implementation of the K–12 Science Leader Network, which supported over 800 educational leaders across California with implementing standards-aligned, phenomena-based science education. The Exploratorium was recognized with a Superintendent’s Award for Excellence in Museum Education in 2019 for this impactful work.
Before joining the Exploratorium, Jessica co-founded the Maker Certificate Program at Sonoma State University, where she was previously an Associate Professor in the Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education department. She is the author of Teaching Tech-Savvy Kids: Bringing Digital Media into the Classroom. Jessica received her PhD in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.
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 Global Collaborations
Anne leads Global Collaborations, working closely with partners worldwide and their communities to achieve shared goals for impact. She joined the Exploratorium in 2003 and spent her first decade directing the Field Trip Explainer Program, while also completing her doctoral dissertation on science-learner identity development in a community of practice. In 2013 she successfully launched and directed Helix, a grant-funded, one-year, experimental community science center. Anne brings to this work deep commitments to learning and to community, with extensive experience and a highly collaborative approach. In her early career, she developed and implemented learning experiences at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Environment, Mass Audubon, and the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Anne holds a PhD and an MS in environmental studies from Antioch University New England, and a BA in art history from Northwestern University.
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.
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Veronica Garcia-Luis has more than 20 years of experience researching and developing programs and exhibits to increase access to STEM learning opportunities for non-dominant communities. She is dedicated to leading the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts of the organization toward becoming a more equitable, anti-racist and inclusive workplace in order to better engage and reflect our communities and audiences.
Most recently she has co-led the following NSF-funded programs Cambio: A Professional Development Approach for Building Latinx-focused Cultural Competence in Informal Science Education Institutions; Ciencia Pública: Co-creating Public Outdoor Learning Spaces with Latino Communities; EDGE: Exhibit Designs for Girls’ Engagement; and GENIAL: Generating Engagement and New Initiatives for All Latinos. Ms. Garcia-Luis has a BA in art history from UCLA and an MA in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University.
Senior Director of Science, Arts, and Research
Anne joined the Exploratorium in 2012 as the Director of Grants and now leads the museum’s Science, Arts, and Research group. In her prior role, she was responsible for all fundraising strategies related to grants and institutional funders, including federal grantors such as the National Science Foundation. In her new role, she supports Managing Director Phoebe White in developing and implementing priorities and strategy for visitor-focused exhibits and programs and oversees the program development and operations of the Exploratorium’s core science, arts, and research teams: Living Systems, Social Sciences, Environment/Observatory, Center for Art and Inquiry, Outdoor Exhibits, and Visitor Research and Evaluation. Prior to working at the Exploratorium, Anne spent 15 years in various fundraising and operational leadership positions in a variety of nonprofit organizations. She entered the workforce as a community organizer and spent many years organizing and building community-based political power in South Central Los Angeles. A classically trained opera singer, Anne holds a BA in history and music from Mills College.
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.
Senior Director of Exhibits
After joining the Exploratorium in 1998, Eric worked as an exhibit developer on a succession of four National Science Foundation–funded grants. He went on to be Associate Curator of the Outdoor Gallery as the team began planning for the Exploratorium’s move to its current San Francisco waterfront location. In this role, Eric helped spearhead connections and collaborations between the Exploratorium and local community-based organization and was instrumental in the co-creation of the NSF-funded Ciencia Pública: Agua. As Director of Exhibits, Eric has worked across projects to create systems and organizational models that enhance the innovation of the extremely talented Exploratorium staff. Over the last several years, Eric has worked with other institutions in Korea, China, Singapore, Brazil, and Palestine to help them develop their own exhibit development practices based on an interactive and collaborative prototyping model.